I would like to thank Danielle and Federico from Parmigiano Regianno for inviting the South Florida Bloggers to an exclusive cooking class at the Biltmore’s Culinary Academy with Executive Chef Dave Hackett.
24 Bloggers were invited to a three hour cooking class at the Biltmore Culinary Academy during which we cooked 6 different dishes with one common ingredient: Parmigiano Reggiano.
The three-hour cooking class was a magical experience. All the bloggers shared the beautiful enormous kitchen at the Biltmore Culinary Academy. The kitchen is the midpoint between an industrial kitchen and a designer kitchen with an industrial stove and oven in the center; but fine cabinets lining the walls. Every wall in the kitchen is painted with chalkboard paint, allowing the instructors to write out important instructions/information on the wall such as the wi-fi password or draw beautiful informational murals like this Parmigiano Regianno mural.
Before we started cooking Danielle talked about Parmigiano Reggiano and I realized there were many things I did not know about Parmesan cheese.
Things I didn’t know about Parmigiano Reggiano
- The most surprising fact I learned is that Parmigiano Reggiano is the only true Parmesan Cheese. It is the only cheese made in the Parma Province of Italy where it has been produced since 1200. (What?! Thats over 900 years!) Much like the sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region in France is the only true Champagne, Parmigiano Regianno is the real Parmesan Cheese. In Europe only cheeses produced in the regions of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Modena, and Mantua are allowed to call themselves Parmigiano-Regianno or Parmesan Cheese. Naming conventions are a less stringent in the US. So if you want to be sure you are buying true Parmesan Cheese, you will want to buy the Parmigiano Regianno brand – available at most supermarkets including Publix and Fresh Market.
- Parmigiano Regianno has amino acids that aid digestion. You can actually see them if you look at a piece of cheese up close – they look like little crystals.
- Parmigiano Regianno is lactose-free.
Once we learned about Parmigiano Regianno, Chef Dave Hackett took the floor and laid down some ground rules of the kitchen. The first were some obvious but important pointers such as: if you are walking around with a knife, point the knife towards the floor and hold it (from the handle) parallel to your leg, and close to your body; other good pointers for working in a crowded kitchen include saying “Hot behind you” or “Sharp behind you” to warn fellow cooks about your current hazard walking behind them; and keeping your station and floor clean to avoid slipping and accidents.
Then, it was time to start cooking! We split up into groups of four and each one of our groups was assigned a dish. We had to cook enough for 24 people in three hours and it was so much fun! We all had wine while we cooked and worked in teams. Chef Dave Hackett, Chef and several assistants walked around helping teams and answering questions, but the bloggers took over the kitchen as they cooked their meals.
The menu was delicious and all the recipes were by Chef Dave Hackett:
Chef Dave Hackett Parmigiano Regianno Menu
Parmigiano Reggiano & Cilantro Gnocchi with Key Lime Butter Sauce
Parmigiano Reggiano & Crusted Sea Scallps with Cumin Corn Salsa
Parmigiano Reggiano Taco Shells with Cuban Picadillo
Iberico Ham, Phyllo, Parmigiano Reggiano Asparagus Fingers
Parmigiano Reggiano Potato Flan served with Chorizo, Wild Mushroom and Tomato Ragu
Spicy Chocolate Dipped assorted fruit with dusted Parmigiano Reggiano and Coconut Flakes