The Magic Behind Ridge Tahoe's Personalized Cooking Class

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The Ridge Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe Nevada is a magical stop in the Lake Tahoe area, particularly for families. See our separate write up on the resort itself and why we think so. They offer a number of outside activities on-site for kids and adults, from athletic classes and swimming to cooking classes.

Ridge Tahoe chef Stephen Moise is a sheer delight to spend an evening with, which you can do by taking one of his cooking classes on offer on Tuesday nights. Stephen started his career at only 12 years old and has worked with some of the greatest Chefs in the world. His passion for food and particularly fresh organic food is inspiring and electric.

The class, which is priced at $99 a person and lasts for about 5 or 6 hours, is designed to get you more comfortable with preparation and working with seasonal ingredients. In the kitchen (his kitchen), you work with him to prepare a three course meal and in the process, undergo a culinary journey. At the end, you will get a chance to enjoy your creations and wine samples in a family-style gathering in the main restaurant.

He starts you off with preparation of the first course, which was a Thai Chicken and Pineapple wrap. Stephen asserts that cooking is as much about connection as it is about the food. He said, “cooking is about connecting with people and it’s about sharing love through the art of what you create.” Well said!!

We spent a lot of time on herb oil, which he feels is the key to real flavor. Rather than try to make a ‘perfect dish’ Stephen suggests that you just try to be as effective and purposeful in your cooking as you can.

The ingredients in our appetizer wrap dish included chicken, iceberg lettuce, diced pineapple (half is sauteed and half is a puree), sliced green onion, chopped jalapeno, cilantro, chopped fresh ginger, chopped garlic, shallots and sweet chile sauce.

Says Stephen, “There is no shortcut for success and the basics are simple-first identify what the highest standards are and always strive to achieve them. Second, use only the best quality products because you can’t make champagne out of vinegar. Oh and let’s not forget cook with reckless abandon and have fun doing it!”

The second and main course was a Grilled River Trout, which was served with root vegetable hash and citrus butter. The ingredients include boned river trout, one cup of medium diced turnips, medium diced rutabaga, medium diced parsnips, medium diced  celery root, medium diced yam, sliced green onion, diced tomato and herb oil. The sauce is a simple one — fresh orange juice and salted butter, with added salt and pepper to taste. He suggests that you always toss salt and pepper over a dish from as high up as you can, which will more evenly distribute both spices over the dish.

Above and below, Stephen puts the cut up diced root vegetables in the oven. He actually cut them up two days before cooking them, but while we were together, we prepared them to be sauteed in the oven in herb oil.

Lastly, there was dessert, which was a warm poached pear dish with cinnamon ice cream, orange syrup and macadamia nuts. Yum! He used pears, the zest of one orange, cinnamon sticks, ice cream and toasted macadamia nuts. The sauce consisted of four cups of orange juice, six cups of sugar and two cups of water. If we opt to make this dish at home, he suggested we buy hard pears, not the softer and riper ones.

Below is an early look at the main course, before he finished dressing up the plate.

Now, with the dressing around the sides of the trout.

Now, for the tossed greens on top.

And, finally — dinner at last! Below is the final presentation of the Thai Chicken and Pineapple wraps.

This is the final presentation of the Grilled River Trout dish, served family style for our table of ten.

It’s time to meet Stephen, a man of authentic and warm charm and a wealth of knowledge about the art of cooking.

Below are a couple of videos I shot of our experience. We give it a major two thumbs up and would highly encourage anyone heading to Lake Tahoe to sign up for the class, even if you’re not staying at the Ridge Tahoe resort. Visit the dining page of their site for more information. Part I of the video is of Stephen with us in the kitchen and part 2 is where he starts to tell stories in the dining room as we’re having a beautifully prepared meal.

Note: we were hosted by the local tourism board and the Tahoe Ridge in South Lake Tahoe, but all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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