The Peabody's Capriccio Grill has hired Brian Barrow to be its new chef de cuisine. Barrow, a California native, began his cooking career in his late 20s after leaving his family's construction business. He attended Johnson & Wales University's College of Culinary Arts in Miami and stayed in Florida after graduation to work for the Ambassador Hotel in Fort Lauderdale and Do & Co International Event Catering.
As executive chef for all of Do & Co's domestic operations, Barrow was responsible for a staff of 138 that catered events in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami. Barrow soon built a reputation for being able to shape any kitchen into an efficient operation that consistently turns out great food.
At Capriccio, Barrow will be cooking up prime steaks and chops, and he'll be starting a series of quarterly wine dinners.
Capriccio Grill, 149 Union (529-4199)
Sheri McKelvie is the new pastry chef at the Inn at Hunt Phelan.
McKelvie, who worked for the now-defunct City Bread bakery, started La Morinda, her own wholesale bakery, two years ago. She supplied European-style crusty breads to area restaurants, including the Majestic Grille and the Inn at Hunt Phelan as well as local coffee shops and delis. Stephen Hassinger, who heads Hunt Phelan's kitchen, plans on having McKelvie bake at least some of Hunt Phelan's breads but wants her to focus on pastries first. The position was vacated by Heather Ries, who has taken a position as personal chef to a local food entrepreneur.
The Inn at Hunt Phelan, 533 Beale (525-8225)
The Viking Cooking School is offering two not-so-everyday classes in April.
The Essential Wine Series, starting on April 2nd, is a six-week course designed for the wine lover who wants to learn more. The series was developed for Viking by Karen MacNeil, chairwoman of the wine department at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, star of the PBS series Wine, Food & Friends, and author of the award-winning Wine Bible. The first two-hour session focuses on wine tasting -- what you should look for in a wine, how to know if a wine tastes the way it should, what makes great wine great, etc. The next five sessions focus on specific wines: crisp and aromatic whites, elegant and earthy reds, as well as sparkling and dessert wines.
The price for the class, including a copy of The Wine Bible and a wine aroma wheel, is $399.
Roland Mesnier, former executive pastry chef at the White House, will be at Viking on April 13th for a demonstration class about presidential desserts.
Mesnier grew up one of nine children in a small village (population 140) in France. He began his culinary career at age 14 in a French pastry shop and traveled extensively to learn recipes and techniques from other countries. During his career, he has worked at pastry shops in Germany and at hotels, such as the Savoy in London, Georges V in Paris, and the Princess Hotel International in Bermuda. In 1979, first lady Rosalyn Carter recruited Mesnier from the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. His career at the White House spanned 25 years.
During his years at the White House, he worked endless hours, one time making 1,500 cookies without assistance and another time preparing half a ton of fruitcake, also by himself. When he retired in the summer of 2004, Mesnier had created hundreds of desserts for state dinners, teas, parties, and receptions, without ever making the same dessert twice.
The price for the demonstration class, which runs from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on April 19th, is $79.
For more information on both classes, visit vikingcookingschool.com.
Viking Cooking School, 1215 Ridgeway (763-3747)
Back by popular demand are the Saturday-morning cooking classes at River Oaks Restaurant. Chef Benjamin Vaughn and local guest chefs will focus on preparations that can easily be re-created at home. In the first class on April 7th, students will learn the culinary basics, a course that will continue the following week with the next level. Then it's classes on sushi, elegant and easy desserts, shopping like a chef, knife skills, tapas and martinis, and the ultimate spring dinner party.
Classes are $30; lunch included. Reservations are required. River Oaks Restaurant, 5871 Poplar (683-9305)