On Thursday night, 160 participants had the chance to cook alongside two top Delaware chefs thanks to the Food Bank of Delaware’s inaugural “Cooking for a Cause” virtual event.
Organized by Food Bank of Delaware Board of Director Jeff Whitmarsh, participants sipped drinks carefully curated by Sommelier Chuck Lewis and enjoyed a four-course meal planned by Chef Bill Wallen of Grain and Chef Michele Mitchell of Michele Mitchell Pastry Designs.
The production, hosted by Whitmarsh, showed participants how to make each course. Ingredients were prepped in advance by Chef Bill’s team at Grain, and Food Bank of Delaware volunteers carefully boxed each item for participants so they could follow along from their home kitchens.
“This past year has proven to be so difficult for all of us. We have spent in some case, days, months, without the hug of our family. It is our hope, with this event, it will help you feel connected with the Food Bank in a meaningful way,” said Whitmarsh.
Sommelier Chuck Lewis kicked off the evening by showing participants how to make the event’s signature cocktail, a French blush. The cocktail featured pink grapefruit juice, lillet blanc, gin and elderflower liqueur. He shared mixing techniques and explained how flavors compliment one another. To accompany the appetizer and salad, Chuck suggested sancerre blanc and pinot noir wines. While wines and ingredients for the cocktails were not provided, attendees were provided the suggestions in advance to purchase on their own if they wished to indulge.
Chef Bill kicked off the cooking portion of the evening by showing participants how to make Grain’s popular OMG Crab Nachos. A block of cheese, crab meat, cucumber, wonton chips, Old Bay seasoning and salsa were provided so guests could assemble the dish at home. Chef Bill showed how to cube the cheese for melting and how to layer each ingredient to make a delectable plate of nachos.
For lighter fare in the second course, partipants made a strawberry spinach salad. Their ingredient boxes included spinach, strawberries, red onion, feta cheese and a viniagrette dressing.
Throughout the evening, Nelly’s Echo, Season 3 contestant on ABC’s The Voice, provided entertainment in between courses.
Larry Haas, Food Bank of Delaware Chief Development Officer, and Tim Hunter, Chef Instructor, talked to participants about key Food Bank initiatives including the organization’s COVID-19 response and the Delaware Food Works culinary training program. Proceeds from the evening benefitted student scholarships to The Culinary School.
The main course featured a bourbon-glazed salmon with herbed cous cous and charred brussel sprouts. Chef Bill showed participants how to cut and prepare the brussel sprouts and how to cook the cous cous. The salmon was sauteed with a bourbon glaze prepared by the team at Grain.
Chef Michele Mitchell of Michele Mitchell Pastry Designs closed out the evening with a chocolate mousse soufle. Participants received six ounces of chocolate, powdered sugar, lemon juice and sugar and were asked to have butter and 4 eggs on hand to complete the dish. Chef Michele showed home bakers how to separate and whip egg whites. She advised not to overwhip the egg whites or to overmix the batter. Throughtout the segment, Whitmarsh commented on how delicious the kitchen smelled and couldn’t wait to dig in.
One guest commented, “The entire evening was AMAZING! The menu selection, livestream and entertainment was superb. I will be donating to the scholarship fund and look forward to volunteering in the future!” Another participant said, “What a wonderful fun time!”
The night would not be possible without Chuck Lewis, Chef Bill Wallen, Chef Michele Mitchell, Nelly’s Echo, Jeff Whitmarsh and our generous sponsors!
Thank you to our sponsors for making the night possible!
Check out some scenes from the evening!