Areeya Tipyasothi, writes about Shorewood Culinary Arts' Premier Chef Dinner. She shares her story with us.
Thursday. 2:25. In the few minutes after the school bell signaled the start of the three-day weekend, students poured out of their respective classrooms and into the already packed hallways.
Some navigated the masses in an attempt to find their friends; others pushed their way through the crowd, desperately hoping that their ride hadn't left without them yet. Chatter filled the Commons and people excitedly yelled their plans for the long weekend, their voices competing with two hundred other equally as excited students. But as time moved on, so did people.
Less than an hour later, the Commons were silent, save for the occasional squeaking footsteps of a lingering teacher or the low whir of a custodial cleaning machine.
Shorewood had been deserted by it’s main inhabitants for the weekend. Most of them, that is.
Near the hallway of the 1100s wing, the sounds of sizzling, clanging pots and pans, and scurrying footsteps infiltrated the otherwise hushed school. Farther down the hall, a melody of tantalizing savory scents infused the air with a feeling of warmth, only further accentuated by bubbly laughter and babble streaming from an open door.
The after-hours activity was coming from the students of Diana Dillard and Wendy Jordan’s Culinary Arts class, though it certainly wasn’t normal for them to stay after school to cook, no matter how enjoyable class was.
The reason for the students’ culinary diligence was that the evening marked the first ever Chef Dinner of the school year and the first ever Chef Dinner prepared and executed in the shiny new school kitchen.
The Chef Dinners are a series of events over the year where professional and highly-acclaimed chefs in the Seattle area volunteer their time and expertise to supervise SW students in making a classy multiple-course dinner complete with dim lights, flickering candles, and long, elegant tablecloths. Though before the twinkly lights and tasteful clinking of silverware against china could happen, there was work to be done.
Situated in the Culinary Arts-classroom-turned-dining-room, Dillard observed the frenzied activity of students with an excited glint in her eye and began describing how the transition from the old school has affected the Chef Dinners thus far.
“We’re in the new building this year, so things have changed. This is our first chef dinner here so that’s why things are a little crazy right now[because] we’re kind of trying to feel things out and figure things out. Last year with two rooms, we were able to sit 83 and tonight we’ll try[to sit] 80 people in one room,” said Dillard. “We can do larger parties in the Commons but for our first Chef Dinner I thought we would just stick to this room."
The Commons are located just down the hall from the Culinary Arts kitchen, providing ample seating for guests if necessary, which it should be when word gets out that pros like Chef Desmond “Desi” Bonow of Tom Douglas’s Palace Kitchen as well as Chefs Adrienne Chamberlain(Etta’s) and Nate Crave(Seatown) are participating. All three chefs have already been involved with Shorewood’s Culinary Arts in one way or another and all three found themselves coming back for more.
“All three of them said that they wanted to come back to share and do something nice for the program; they found that it was just really worthwhile of their time - their precious time - to come in and work with these students. They get a lot out of it themselves.”
Chef Desi was eager that afternoon to work with the young chefs-in-training. “It’s actually really exciting to see young people who are showing interest in cooking, so... I’m very excited, it’s going to be fun," Bonow said.
Chef Dinners are $35 per person. Upcoming dates can be found online at www.shorewoodculinaryarts.org/chef-dinners. Tickets go fast, so get yours today!