Jean Georges Restaurant Lagoon at the St. Regis Bora Bora.
One of the best days on the honeymoon.
On our second to last day some friends we made told us that the resort offered 1 hour cooking lessons at the famous Lagoon restaurant. Considering I AM RhodeyGirl ;), PB and I decided to sign up. Unfortunately, the lessons were only held on Sundays and this was Monday (and we were leaving the next afternoon). Fortunately, the resort accommodated us by arranging a private cooking lesson just for us!!!!
The night before worked out perfectly as we got to enjoy dinner at the restaurant before seeing the ins and outs of the kitchen the next morning.
Special Appetizer sent over by the chef… turns out this is one of the things we would be making at the cooking lesson!!!
Happy and in love (and full):
On the morning of our lesson, I couldn’t exactly skip the breakfast buffet, so before our 10 am lesson PB and I had a nice big breakfast. I needed to bid adieu to my favorite buttery and flaky croissants on our last day!!! So I did.
Around 9:50 the manager of the Lagoon Restaurant came to escort us to the restaurant. What awaited us there was surprising and even better than anything I could have imagined! I was embarrassed because they had a nice little set up of bakery items for us along with place settings, coffee, and tea, but I had insisted to PB that we need to eat a good breakfast on our last day. Whoops! The kitchen was spotless, and they were ready for our arrival.
They had folders for us with the recipes of the two dishes we were going to make- Chicken Samosas with a Cilantro Yogurt Dipping Sauce & Grilled Mahi Mahi over a White Sesame Vinaigrette with Crunchy Salad. I didn’t expect the lesson to be so professional, but it was! They even gave us our own aprons to wear and then take home with us:
After getting to know our chefs Franck and Maxine a little bit, it was time to get to work. The first item to prepare was the filling for the chicken samosas, as it would have to chill before we put together the final dish. One interesting thing about the Jean Georges restaurants is that many of them carry the same few signature dishes.. this is one of them.
They had prepared most of the mise en place for all the dishes prior to our arrival. I was surprised by the volume of spices they added for the chicken samosas.
We started by mostly watching and listening to Franck and Maxine, and slowly over time we got to do more and more of the actual cooking ourselves. Both chefs were very knowledgeable and eager to share that knowledge with us. What we learned during the preparation of the chicken samosa filling is not to worry when the spices stick the bottom of the pan and turn kind of brown. When you add the chicken, because of its water content, it will all be picked up. That is a trick to add flavor to the dish. Also, we did not add the coriander to the filling until right before assembling the samosas.
After making the filling we went on to make the cilantro dipping sauce. The sauce was quite simple to make, and I bet it would go well with many other food items too! Here is our mise en place:
Pouring in the blended cilantro (blended with a bit of the yogurt):
And it was done!
When it was finally time to put together the chicken samosas we had already gotten to know Franck & Maxine quite well. We had also learned a few things from making the chicken samosas that we are sure to bring back into our own kitchen.
1. Grapeseed oil is a great oil to cook with as it is light in flavor.
2. You should always chop onions by hand even if it takes longer, as the food processor just won’t make the onion the same texture as when chopped by hand.
3. White pepper doesn’t burn, so it is a good choice for cooking
Now, on to assembling the samosas! As many of you know, my father is from Jordan. That means I grew up knowing all about assembly lines in the kitchen. Stuffed grape leaves? Assembly line. Easter cookies? Assembly line. So it came as no surprise to me when the chefs started lining up the pastry dough in an assembly line. Putting them together was super easy. We brushed the whole side with egg, dropped a tablespoon of the filling (now with the coriander added) on one edge, and folded into a triangle. It was important to make sure there were no holes in the dough for the filling to escape from.
Here’s the type of dough we used:
After a quick drop in hot oil to fry them, they were ready to eat!!!! The spicy samosa dipped in the cilantro yogurt dipping sauce was really the perfect combination. The cilantro + yogurt balanced out the spices!!! We were amazed that we were a part of the process that produced this:
PB was happy:
I was too!!!! Even looking back now at the pictures of these samosas I feel so proud. We learned to make a really special dish and any time we make these we will be brought back to our day with Franck & Maxine.
As you can imagine, this lesson was not one hour as they had originally told us. From start to finish, just making the samosas took a couple of hours. It was such a special day for us, and such an amazing experience. Come visit again tomorrow to see the rest of our cooking lesson, including a special giveaway later in the afternoon (really really really excited about this!!!!!)