The lucky people who took George Mendes’ class on Spanish and Portuguese cuisine at the New York Culinary Experience learned and ate a lot. An energetic, engaging and passionate chef, Mendes artfully translates restaurant cooking for the home chef; his class was filled with the intoxicating scent of garlic, tomatoes, shrimp and intermittent practical tips, all of which could be taken home.
Running from one pan to another, adding a few rounds of olive oil, and stopping briefly to teach someone how to form a claw with her hand while chopping onions, he paused in front of the simmering and aromatic shrimp heads to extoll the importance of seasoning throughout the entire cooking process: “Taste, Taste, Taste” he proclaimed, throughout every stage and then re-season again as needed. Another piece of shared wisdom: Buy a rubber spatula. It’s perfect for scraping bits from the sides of the pan.
Mendes made some of the most popular dishes at his restaurant Aldea, highlighting prominent Spanish and Porteguese ingredients like saffron, pimentón, garlic and, of course, olive oil.