Apr 19, 2010

The Chamber Chef School at the JW

Doreen Bolhuis of GYMCO stole the show with this apron

I was afraid to tell our executive chef, Andrew Voss, that I've agreed to host 25 guest "chefs" from the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce board for a JW Chef School. We just have never done a chef school for such a big group. But since I'm on the board, we had to figure out a way to make it happen. Frankly, we couldn't think of a better team builder than the chef school. What a better way to get to know your colleagues than in a neutral field where most people are away from their comfort zones. 

Our new chairman, Curt Wells of Huntington Bank, insisted of doing away with the all day retreat and usual club sandwiches. It's time for fun and he couldn't agree more than to host a chef school. 

The group was divided into three teams and each team were assigned their respective culinary coaches. Due to my familiarity to the setting and the program, I thought it was best that I stayed neutral. So I decided to DJ instead and lead the judging along with my celebrity judges, Azizah Hines and Laura Caprara. The niceties lasted just a few minutes with the teams before the competitiveness of all these type A-players started coming out. With music blaring, each team peeled, sauteed, deep fried, boiled their way through the process (with a few thrown food items along the way). A surprise flambe course was thrown in to ruffle the team's timing a bit. Oh, what fun it was to see CEO's sweat a little bit! 

The teams tasted and plated each course with the flambe course prepared table side in front of the judges. To the delight of many of the participants, these neophyte culinarians produced some pretty amazing dishes. The beauty of this team builder is everyone went home feeling a little bit more accomplished and proud of surviving their first JW Chef School. You just can't beat it.

The JW has hosted about 100 chef schools in the past year. For more information, please email Phil Weaver at phil.weeaver@jwgr.com. Leave me a note, too, if you'd like and I will send your company a brochure. By the way, we have also hosted families, including teenagers for this fabulous team building event.
A delicious slider
Mike Mraz of Jade Pig Ventures was a flambe expert
Selection of goodies form the JW kitchen
Are we having fun?
After this event, Davenport University will probably consider a culinary program!
It's all about how you look
Chamber president, Jeanne Englehart, couldn't escape Curt's delightful personality in the kitchen
A deep fried delight
Doug Small of the CVB was a natural in the kitchen
The Chamber Culinary Team
Doug Dozeman of Warner Norcross & Judd shows Kent County Commissioner, 
Sandi Frost Parish his unique way of tenderizing meat
The flambe set-up
Sonya Hughes methodically cuts bacon
This was a favorite with the judges
World class presentation
Sandi and Jerry Kooiman of MSU College of Human Medicine shares
a good laugh with culinary coach, Matt Varley
Kevin Stotts was at home with the big stove
Pad Thai so good, one of the judges took some to-go
Scallops with "colorful" sauces
The Flambe King at work
Curt using every possible way to "bribe" the judges,;Azizah Hines
 and Laura Caprara of Grand Rapids Social Diary


Natasha Ohlman said...

George, what a wonderful and fun idea! I want to do it:)

George Aquino said...

Natasha, Do you love to cook?