Fizell’s cooking classes at The Regatta give participants both culinary erudition and the pure enjoyment of cooking well. Students work together, two per station, following specific directions on slicing vegetables, preparing fritter batter for hors d’oeuvres, or properly stirring the ingredients of a made-from-scratch vinaigrette in a saucepan on the stove. The chef is on hand to offer helpful guidance along the way. “I don’t have any secret recipes, that isn’t the important part. It’s the technique that counts,” says Fizell.
Connie Agahigian relishes the knowledge she received from Chef Fizell: “I feel as though I learned a lot,” she says. “You pick up great hints here and there. I’ve been cooking for years, but enjoyed doing things I didn’t think I would in the classes, like making my own pasta. It tastes completely different.”
In a recent class, members adapt quickly to this interactive learning environment, enjoying a large amount of freedom in the kitchen. People get to work at the start of class, and soon tantalizing aromas of grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and delectable glazes rise through the air and linger there enticingly. The student-cooks chop, slice, sprinkle and sauté, smiling knowingly at each other. “This is going to be so good,” their smiles say without words. They know that after plating at the end of class, they get to taste everything and take some home when they are finished.
Student George Silva says, “What strikes me is I’m a family doctor, and I tell people all day long how to eat healthy, and then I come here and do a complete 180 when we make all these rich sauces.” Silva adds with a grin, “Everything in moderation.” Students begin reaching for pots and pans with familiarity, as though at home in their own kitchens. They chat with classmates as though with family or friends they’ve known for ages, mixing up delicious concoctions, often without asking the help of Chef Fizell. They are gaining confidence in the kitchen.