An Evening of Culinary Education

Photographer: 
Audrey Hall
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With their cooking lesson concluded and the main course in the oven, guests take in the view while sipping Cosmopolitans.
The menu highlights fruits and vegetables at their peak of freshness, paired perfectly with savory meats and cheeses.
Whole Trout in Parchment — pick up this month's issue of Mountain Living for the recipe.
Preparing the Pancetta for the recipe Pancetta with Goat Cheese and Fresh Pear.

For the complete Entertaining story, see the May/June 2006 issue of Mountain Living.

When photographer Audrey Hall and her longtime fishing companion Whitney Johns-Martin decided to plot a dinner party at Hall's Livingston, MT, home that would bring together an eclectic group of friends who had never met before, they knew they needed a unique way to break the ice.

Enter Bay Area teaching chef Phil Estipular, an old friend of Audrey and Whitney.

Every spring Phil, accompanied by his wife and teaching assistant Micki Napp, comes to teach a benefit cooking class at Montana State University's Billings campus.

"So we twisted their arms," says Audrey, "to come and do a class in my home, too."

"We wanted to emphasize local ingredients," says Audrey, "so Phil came up with a main course featuring trout, and he would teach us a special way to bone it and then cook it sealed inside parchment paper."

But did the process of learning and cooking together cause the guests to harmonize as magically as the chicken broth, saffron, licorice-scented Pernod, and clam juice that Phil combined to make what he calls his "secret sauce" for the trout?

"Having fun together in the kitchen," says Whitney, "created a relaxed environment for open conversation."

Adds hostess Audrey Hall, "Everybody contributing to the meal created an incredible spirit of sharing and giving. You can't ask for much more than that."

MENU

STARTERS
Pancetta with Goat Cheese and Fresh Pear
Citrus Cosmopolitans

FIRST COURSE
Avocado and Mango Salad With Passion Fruit Dressing

MAIN
Whole Trout in Parchment
Roasted Asparagus Bundles with Feta

DESSERT
Pear-Almond Tart

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