We arranged for Chef Shelby with Cozymeal to come to our house for Spanish tapas with 10 adults.
We had expectations regarding the tapas because half our family is Spanish; we have traveled extensively in Spain, and we wanted to learn how to make them.
The menu consisted of :
• Serrano Ham with Melon
• Traditional Spanish Frittata
• Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Smoked Chili Oil
• Albondigas in Saffron Almond Sauce
• Prawns with Garlic and Chili
• Grilled Lamb Brochette
• Spanish Flan
We were a little hesitant with some of the items, especially those with chili oil and chilis, but figured the chef wanted to do some fusion. We were open to that as we thought we would learn something new.
• Shelby and her assistant were friendly
• Fresh ingredients from reputable stores
• The comfort of our own home. No need to rush to get out of a cooking facility
• No Interactive Class - we had specifically requested the cooking class be interactive as we wanted to learn by doing things ourselves. However, Shelby would tell us what we were going to do but we never really had a chance to do it. For example, she would say to us that we were going to cut the lamb as she showed us how; but by the time she finished talking, the lamb was already cut, and therefore, we were just standing and watching. We counted that half of our group didn’t even participate once. This occurred several times with cutting melons, tomatoes, and other food. We thought she would bring the class together and make sure everyone participates. But at the end, It felt like a one-woman show.
• Dialog – A problem many of us is that we didn’t understand her. She spoke too fast, and we had to ask her to repeat.
• Utensils – We had called before the class and asked what we needed to provide so that everything was ready when she got here. But, during the event, we were continually getting more bowls, more serving platters, and baking sheets. There were about four of us rushing around getting all of these things. More precise instructions would have been helpful and would have made better use of our time. We did not enjoy this.
• Food Preparation/Stations – Shelby said to create a few stations, so we set several areas with cutting boards. However, as previously stated, she and her assistant were doing all the work, and most of us were just standing around, some at one station and others at another. The session was highly unorganized and rushed. And because Shelby was doing several things at once, the meatballs and lamb were overcooked. Also, there were a lot of food items “thrown” on a plate – an antipasto platter that was just purchased from the store. More thought and detail could have been placed on the delivery of the presentation. Lastly, we weren’t even sous chefs - more like kitchen porters, e.g., drying off prawns from the store, getting additional ingredients, and cookware.
• Tapas in General – Shelby told us that she worked off the menu but also wanted to get quality and fresh ingredients that were in season. We had no problem with this - but if you have traveled to Spain, you would know what tapas are. From our experience, the only thing that was tapas on the menu was the albondigas. In northern Spain, we had fantastic tapas that are put on bread and secured with toothpicks. We figured the menu would show us something cool and exciting that would involve typical Spanish tapas. Shelby told us about some of the spices she was using and how she incorporated into her dishes. While they were not Spanish; we were happy to learn about it. We also learned about a new melon, but we all knew how to put prosciutto around melon pieces. We recommend the chef ask the “students” about their cooking experience and adjust their teaching as needed.
• Dessert –Tres Leches is not from Spain. Not even close. We did think it was interesting she took a sheet cake and put holes in it and added more cream and orange juice, but it was purchased and then altered.
While the polite opinions of some of our guests varied, the overwhelming sentiment was that the service provided by Cozymeal was pretty disappointing, considering the overpriced cost of $110 per person.
We did not receive a cooking class, but a very expensive catered dinner that we watched Chef Shelby and her assistant prepare as we scurried to get items and then later cleaned after the party. Shelby and her assistant were friendly, and I believe, meant well, they took the time to get fresh ingredients and shared with us a few spices and ingredient substitutions.
This was at best an amateur cooking show – we learned something, but many of us cook exciting things. In fact, during this cooking session, we decided to add some true Spanish tapa cuisine and cooked our own pulpo a la gallega and padron peppers.
We recommend to Cozymeal that their chefs set clear expectations. Know your audience, know your cuisine, slow down, show us and then hand the work to the party.
We are sorry to say, but we will not be using the Cozymeal service again and would also not recommend it to others.