I love this town. Where else can you have an intimate cooking lesson, over the course of two-and-a-half hours, with the head chef and founder of one of the best restaurants in the area, for the price of a meal at said restaurant?

The Seasonal Cook‘s evening classes generally follow the same format: You and seven other people sit around the chef’s table, close enough that you can practically feel the heat from the burners, and watch as he or she prepares dishes according to the theme for that evening. There is no imposed structure. Ask questions along the way, chat about restaurants and farms, follow the recipe exactly or not, have some wine. The personality of the chef dictates how it goes.

This latest class, featuring Chef Mark Gresge of l’etoile and a theme of “New Spins on Lost Tradtions of a Backyard Cocktail Party,” was like a scene from The Absent-Minded Professor crossed with an episode of The French Chef with Julia Child. Chef Gresge’s disarming affability, rustic sensibilities, playful innovation, and technical mastery combined to create a most relaxed but entertaining and educational evening.

He made and we greedily ate cream cheese balls rolled in toasted cumin, red pepper flakes, fresh cilantro, and cracked pepper; a greek yogurt-based roasted garlic onion dip, served with baked potato chips; the freshest and tastiest beef tartare imaginable, with mustard, onions, capers, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and a quail egg on top; and vibrant Polyface eggs deviled two ways: truffled and lobster-stuffed.

We’re happy to spread the recipe love if you think you need any of these, and I assure you that you do. It may be hard to find the truffles or grind the beef, but everything else is reasonably easy to prepare, and delicious!