Special Guest Jet Tila at Westminster Canterbury
Photos by George Culver of I Heart Food
“Everyone raise your right hands, and repeat after me. ‘I will not shake the coconut milk can,’” Chef Jet Tila said.
Last week, cooking lessons were learned and palates were satiated by a delectable Asian-inspired, three-course dinner. Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay hosted their 2nd Annual Cooking Demonstration and Dinner featuring Food Network’s Chef Jet Tila to benefit Westminster-Canterbury Foundation.
Chef Jet has appeared on Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen and Iron Chef America and is the inaugural Culinary Ambassador of Thai Cuisine, just to get a feel for his credentials. But, among all his titles, he’s a very witty, humble, personable “token Asian guy.” Yes, those are his words, not mine.
My husband, Cody, asked Jet the question that we’ve all wanted to demand from the judges of Chopped (from our couches, of course): “Is 20 minutes really enough time to cook anything?”
In case you’re not a Chopped follower—yet—chefs are given 20 minutes to whip up an appetizer and 30 minutes each for the entree and dessert rounds, all while using a basket of mystery ingredients that are only unveiled seconds before the clock starts.
Jet replied, “Ah, good question. But, yes.” He explained that any good, experienced and trained chef should be able to make an appetizer in 20 minutes.
Upon arrival we were offered Jet’s delicious Drunken Noodles on one tray and mini chicken lettuce wraps on another.
Signature cocktails were served, and we got to mingling. My favorite cocktail was Chef Jet’s velvety Thai Silk made with Nigori sake, pineapple rum, simple syrup, sweet and sour and a touch of kaffir lime leaves.
Once we found our seats, Chef Jet demoed his Satay Lamb Chops with a peanut sauce. To make the peanut sauce, he began with coconut cream as an aromatic frying medium. The coconut cream is the luscious layer found on top of the milk without shaking the can. Once the cream is cooked down with an assortment of spices, peanut butter gets added until a wonderfully nutty, rich sauce is achieved. He grilled the satay lamb chops, laid them over a cabbage and fennel slaw and sealed the dish with a drizzle of the creamy peanut sauce.
“For me, cooking is an art. You can be an intuitive good cook or you can be a precise cook,” Tila said.
After the demo, the three-course dinner commenced! First was a bowl of tangy Thai coconut chicken soup followed by roasted salmon served with ancient grains that resembled a risotto consistency.
Next were the satay lamb chops, cooked to a nice medium rare, served over slaw with the same rich peanut sauce.
The dessert course presented an almond cake with a Franzipan cookie and a poached pear over top. A sort of chewy brittle propped up against the pear along with a Japanese pinwheel and toasted almonds.
But my favorite part of this last course was the mulled spiced sake—ooh it was like a sip of Christmas.