The Chef Mickey Experience + chiles en nogada

Honestly, I don’t call myself a person with a virtue for cooking – I’ve been known to burn water for coffee…or bread for sandwiches. That’s why when I was invited to join a cooking class with Chef Mickey (in Plaza del Sol, along Blvd. Fremont), my only thought was “Oh goodness…what did I get myself into just from saying that I adore Chiles en Nogada.”

So, on the morning of Saturday April 14th, I showed up for the class with fear filling my heart. Only just a few years ago, my Aunt almost bit my head off in not believing I did not know what a “sifter” was (a word of course that is part of my vocabulary forever). Nevertheless, as I stepped through the door into Chef Mickey’s restaurant, and saw Mickey welcoming everyone and calmly chatting with other students, I could once again breathe.

I was armed with my camera while others grasped notebooks, along with pens and pencils (and even a Palm).  Mickey invited us into the most intimate part of his restaurant – the kitchen, and the class began.

First, as an introduction – a little history about Chile en Nogada. It was created in Puebla by the Clarisa Nuns of the Convent of Santa Monica for Agustín de Iturbide when he came back from signing Mexico’s independence, hence the colors of the flag (green chile, a white nutty sauce, and red pomegranates). After sharing this history with us, while Chef Mickey turned to prepare the meat filling, he told us about the tenacity of his Sous Chef, and culinary arts student, Gabriela Mata who had stood alongside him during this past February’s Iron Chef competition (which he won).

I began to lose my fear of the kitchen as the lively words of the chef took us through the preparation. One by one he named off the ingredients, and showed us each so there would be no doubt: carrots, chiles, nuts, creams, condiments, etc.  One by one they paraded joyfully in front of our eyes, marching their way to be part of the dish.

It’s curious, in noting down the ingredients, everything sounds tremendously complicated and yet Chef Mickey was very patient, explaining step by step and throwing in cuisine tips every now and then. He answered each and every question, and then asked us questions to make sure everything was clear. Throughout the class, the difficult “knot” I believed I had to unravel at the beginning simply began to melt away like Oaxacan cheese.

After a long wait, and after having tempted our appetites for just under an hour, we all finally tried the delicious chile en nogada…there was silence as we all took our first bite, then there were murmurs of admiration and approval (the typical…. “mmmmmm, delicioso, yummmm). There was not a palate in the place that could complain.

Now, I  believe it is the simplest of things to prepare chiles en nogada! The class was done so well, and explained so thoroughly, that I almost feel I could prepare them without even looking at a recipe….I won’t say that’s actually true, just that that’s how confident I feel. So, what’s on the schedule for next week?  Some type of shrimp surprise!!

Mickey’s Saturday Cooking Classes are $20 US / max 15 people (Instruction in Spanish & English as needed). Get your reservations and “class fee” to Mickey by the Friday before the class. Private classes also available for groups of 8 or more (at the restaurant). Information: 388-9500 or cell: 638 386-4736 chefmickeyone@hotmail.com  Chef Mickey’s place is located toward the back of Plaza del Sol on Blvd. Freemont

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