Kitchen Aid’s 90th BirthdayAlthough the new book was not yet supposed to be available in late August, I agreed to do the first major event which was the Epicurean Classic held for the first time in St. Joseph, Michigan, home of Kitchen Aid. And by some miracle 40 books arrived early and in time for the event! We were not so fortunate with the weather which was cold, rainy, and windy, but this did not serve to keep people away. Never have I seen a more attentive and appreciative crowd. I must begin by saying that I am blessed to have Woody Wolston as my assistant. This was the first demo event we have done together. Not only did he bring backup pans for all four cakes for the demos, he did the majority of the prep, making finished cakes and weighing out all the ingredients for the mis en place AND all the while he managed to take over 200 photos! I’ve managed to edit them down to 44 but will post in three separate segments to make downloading easier for you. We arrived at the Chicago Airport and were picked up by a van for the two hour ride to St. Joseph. I brought one of the only two advance copies of the book to give to Woody and to show at the event. This was the first time he saw it in its completion. The event took place in the large parking lot off the Boulevard Inn where we stayed. It was all in tents or open air Kitchen Aid demo kitchens. There were 4 tent-covered demo kitchens each with seating for over 100 people. The prep area was in a nearby tented area with 10 work stations and a full array of kitchen utensils. There were 100s of Artisan Kitchen aid mixers of every imaginable color. The moment we arrived we went into the prep tent to start doing the prep for the next day’s demo which was the Golden Lemon Almond Cake and the Deep Chocolate Passion Layer Cake—two of my top favorite recipes from the new book. Bridget Charters, event coordinator, did an amazing job directing the Culinary students and organizing all the presenters equipment and ingredient requirements. “Student Amabassador” Eunice, newly graduated from Cornell School of Hotel Administration and Hospitality showed us the cart where she had all our things arranged. Woody had offered to bring our favorite Myweigh scale and I was glad he brought the 9 inch heart pan as I could not have made the Rose Red Velvet cake in the 12 inch version that had been ordered in error. Woody wearing his first chef jacket he had made for the event by ChefWear.
We wanted to finish in time to go to Brian Maynard’s (director of marketing for Kitchen Aid) evening party for the presenters. Woody worked with great focus and concentration unmolding the Deep Chocolate Passion Cake. Wearing his Tai Chi shirt didn't hurt! I was beaming with delight that we turned out a perfect Golden Lemon Almond Cake. It's always scary using other people's ovens (but not as much as usual since these were Kitchen Aid ovens) and we had to run the cake batter in the pans over to the ovens which were about a minute away. We got so caught up in the prep, and my watch (with new battery) conspired by stopping, that we almost missed the party! We liked Eunice so much on first sight, and watching her in action, we trusted her to finish syruping the cake! Thank goodness we didn’t miss the party and were only one hour late. It was such a great opportunity to see Brian and his wife Barbara after several years had passed since our last meeting. And it was so great to see other old friends such as Jean Joho of “The Everest Room,” Andrew Schloss, Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein, Mary Sue Millliken etc. and to meet new ones such as Gale Gand’s lovely family (she came with her husband Jimmie and twin daughters Ruby and Ella). Brian is a Culinary Institute trained chef but wanted to be able to spend time with all of us so he had dinner catered by what he described as the best caterer in St. Joseph :Chef Eduardo Pesantez of Cravings Catering of Stevensville Michigan. It was indeed fabulous: an exceptional artichoke dip (I had three helpings), seared tuna with wasabi, lamb kebabs with chimichuri sauce, spicy grilled shrimp, stuffed mushrooms, bruschetta. Desserts were provided by the best bakery in town “Bit of SwissTime” Tim Foley (photos of his terrific bakery and cakes in posting three). The Dessert Bar The next morning we finished prepping and presented the first one hour demo followed by a book signing in a nearby tent. Woody brought over slices of cake for people to taste as they were standing in line. Then we rushed back to the prep tent to start prepping for the next morning’s demo of the Rose Red Velvet and Génoise Rose. Anna Thomas had finished her first demo and sustained us with two fabulous soups. She enjoyed watching me make the Génoise Rose which came out text book or should I say cookbook perfect. Again we were vastly relieved because a génoise batter needs to be baked immediately after mixing and once again Woody hot-footed the batter in the pan over to the stage oven. Was it any wonder that by 10:00 that night I got so sick I started thinking “where is the nearest hospital.” I told Woody he would probably have to do the demo the next day but by the next morning I was feeling a lot better. The weather, however, had a taken a turn for the worse. It was so windy I didn’t dare risk sifting the flour before adding it to the foamy batter for the génoise so predictably the batter deflated more and the finished cake was much lower than the one we had prepped in the tent the afternoon before (an excellent object lesson!). Fine Cooking Magazine did a live podcast of the demo and I met editor Laurie Buckle for the first time. She did a short live podcast interview after the demo and then I was rushed back to the signing tent. Love the proud expression on Woody's face! We were both remembering how a year earlier we were experiencing the grueling task of copy editing. The Happy "Team Rose" We owed much to Eunice for the success of our demos and were very grateful. After the signing Woody and I took a walk on the pier, watching the wind surfers enjoying the rollicking waves of Lake Michigan that just the day before had been smooth as glass. I never realized a lake could resemble an ocean. Next posting is photos of several of the other participants and of the superb eat around Saturday night dinner.