Years ago I was invited to a friend’s birthday party that was being held at Debbie Duggan’s Central Coast Culinary. I had met Debbie on a few occasions working at KSBY as she was our local “celebrity chef”. She would rise ridiculously early to inspire us with a fantastic (and fast) dish on the morning show. I was excited to see her in action in her own kitchen and so I made my way to the location that houses her demonstration kitchen and where her catering originates from on a side street off South Higuera. The outside was basic but when you opened the door it was like visiting someone’s warm and cozy Italian kitchen with an extra-long breakfast bar. We pulled up stools and the staff that consists in large part of volunteer chefs-in-training uncorked our wine. We had a fun and delicious evening leaving stuffed and full of recipes to try out on our families.
I remained on the newsletter list for years but never could make the time with busy schedules and becoming a mom to return. I would drool over the themed evenings wishing I could make another class. I would pin the class schedule to my bulletin board. So to put me out of my misery, my loving and patient mother signed us up for Mother’s Day this year and treated me to a class I had always been excited by — cooking with all things Trader Joe’s. On the menu I was particularly interested in a Kale Salad. We had began subscribing to the Talley Farms fresh veggie box and frequently Kale would appear as an item in the box and I had yet to know what the heck to do with it — or why in fact anyone would want to. We arrived with our wine and Jerry — Debbie’s “right hand man” — opened it for us. There was lively chatter from the other “guests” or students until we all quieted to listen to the chef! We learned how to let the Kale marinate in an orange juice and dried cranberry dressing over night — or several nights — and the process would turn it from chewy rubber-like leaves to yummy deliciousness! What magic! We we also watched fresh salmon become perfectly baked and full of flavor as well as learned how to grill romain hearts for a twist on the traditional Caesar.
2078 Parker Street, Suite 110
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Debbie taught me more in two classes than a lifetime of watching the Food Network. I know where to buy (and more importantly where not to buy) my fresh fish. I also know that searching for authentic Mexican vanilla on my next visit to Tulum is a waste of time. I know how to make my fresh local strawberries last longer and I am not afraid to make caramel! It is a much different experience to sit and watch the process happen without staging and the “magic” of television. And as each dish is made it is passed along the bar as a family style dinner — leaving you stuffed and satisfied having sampled an average of eight to ten menu items. You can bring your own wine or buy from their selection of wines by the glass.
I look forward to returning without such a long break in between. It makes for a fantastic girls night — and you come away with new finesse in the kitchen! I mean, who knew I could make my family eat and love Kale?! Come visit Debbie and pick up some of her wealth of culinary knowledge. I’ll see you there!-