When Food University comes to Caesars Palace from March 27 to 29, some of the country’s top chefs will all be brought together under one (very large) roof. Duff Goldman, Alex Stratta, and Frank Pellegrino Jr. will all be teaching classes, along with master knife makers, sommeliers, mixologists, cheese experts, fine food purveyors, and farmers. One of the biggest names on board, however, is François Payard, the renowned pastry chef behind four New York bakeries. He spoke to The Daily Meal about the event, when he’ll be teaching, and his overall philosophy on cooking classes.
"When you teach a class, everyone is on a different level, and are looking for different experiences," the Nice, France-born chef said. "I don’t want to demonstrate something that just shows my skills, but that nobody else can actually do. I want them to say 'wow,' but not at what I can do, at what they can do."
At the event, which will be the first cooking class he’s taught in Vegas, Payard will teach students how to prepare flourless, butterless chocolate meringue cookies that also happen to be kosher for Passover, a no-bake chocolate pudding cake, and a lemon tart with orange supremes on top. They’re all classic Payard recipes that have been featured in his cookbooks.
"Pastry is very delicate, and very complicated," he said. "I don’t want the students to just stand there watching me work, though. I want to be a great teacher, but I want them to be able to say 'wow, I can do this at home.' Some teachers want to show off too much of their own skills. But I want these students to have a great experience; they’re not just going to a show."
Payard will also make sure that no class has more than 25 participants, in order to assure that everyone has individualized attention. So if you attend the class (tickets to the event are available here), be prepared to get your hands a little dirty. A parting tip from Payard?
"If you take the class you’ll enjoy it, but make sure you bring a translator," he joked. "Don’t worry, I’ll speak slowly."
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.