It can be easier to guess Wordle on the first try than to score a table at the new Snuff Mill Restaurant, Butchery & Wine Bar in Brandywine Hundred.
The intimate eatery opens reservations to the public a month in advance and books up fast.
But on Thursday, March 31, you can sample ingredients that make this newbie such a hotspot.
Think skillet-seared ribeye steak with roasted garlic, string beans with shallots and Café de Paris butter and ricotta gnocchi with spring asparagus, shrimp, Meyer lemon zest, leeks and basil.
The catch? You will make it yourself.
But that won’t be a problem considering chefs Robert Lhulier and Maddie Sutton will be in your homes to walk you through it.
The virtual cook-a-long provides participants with everything they need to make dinner, dessert and a beverage in the comfort of their own home.
At 6 p.m., the students log on to a broadcast to start stirring, dicing and searing.
The premier event in April 2021 raised $20,000 for the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School Scholarship Program.
Now that organizers have already experienced technology-related hiccups, they’ve made changes to improve the experience.
No gown. No tux. Great food.
The first event occurred during the height of the pandemic, when galas, golf tournaments and other fundraisers skid to a halt.
After watching chef friends teach Facebook classes during quarantine, Jeff Whitmarsh, a Food Bank board member, came up with the idea. An in-home fundraiser presented multiple advantages, he realized.
“The virtual format allowed us to reach anyone who wanted to participate, regardless of their vaccination status or health condition,” Whitmarsh said. “Also, it was fun and new, which sparked an interest.”
Guests didn’t need to up or leave the house, noted Kim Turner, the Food Bank’s communication director.
As far as the charity is concerned, there was no cap on participants. More than 160 people logged online for the first event, whisk in hand. Many offered valuable feedback that organizers “took to heart,” Turner said.
Ready, set, cook
Participants pick up the ingredients at the Food Bank’s Newark or Milford location. This year, they will also have their recipes in advance. “Prep your kitchen with utensils, dishes and ingredients ahead of time,” Turner recommended.
You can also prepare certain items in advance if you wish, Lhulier says. And you can cook at your own pace. Certain portions are prerecorded, so participants won’t miss anything if their screen freezes. Hit pause if needed, Whitmarsh said.
Also, he promised the audio will be sharper, and the chefs will instruct at a more measured pace than they did last year.
Try this at home
Turner maintained that the recipes are manageable for the home chef, and Lhulier agreed.
His menu is “seasonal and accessible,” he said. “The ingredients are fresh and at their peak.”
The evening will start with a Lemon-Basil Smash with Belvedere Organics Lemon-Basil Vodka, created by mixologist Sasha Winterling of Breakthru Beverage Group. Ingredients for the garden-to-glass cocktail will include herbs from the Food Bank’s farm.
Lhulier’s portion will include the ribeye with roasted garlic and ricotta gnocchi.
For dessert, Chef Maddie Sutton will make sticky toffee pudding with brown butter toffee sauce, an English dessert and a popular dish at Snuff Mill.
One of Lhulier’s partners is David Govatos, who also owns Swigg, a wine and spirits shop. Recommended selections for the evening include Giovanni Almondo’s 2020 Vigne Sparse Roero Arneis, an Italian white wine, for the pasta, and Chateau Panchille’s 2016 Bordeaux Superieur for the steak.
“Drink the wine while cooking, not just with dinner,” Lhulier quipped.
Indeed, make it a party. “We hope that people who participate do so with friends and family,” Whitmarsh added. “It’s more fun that way.”
Tickets are $75, and the meal serves two. For information, visit fbd.org/cooking.
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