It’s been almost half a year since that fateful day when Will Gilson announced he was leaving Garden at the Cellar. I remember the shock, the sadness, and hopelessness I felt when I found out the terrifying news.
What to do now? Garden at the Cellar was our go-to place, our neighborhood restaurant less than a 3-minute walk from our home. Where would Will go?
Well, for those of you who have been following Will’s whereabouts, you know that he spent the summer at a pop-up restaurant inside of Adrian’s Restaurant in Truro, MA (near Provincetown at the Cape). But summer was far from over.
Where has Will been since then?
Just a few weeks ago, I got an email inviting me to attend a cooking class with Will Gilson. It didn’t take me long to reply “yes please!”
Muir Glen, one of the largest producers of organic canned tomatoes, sponsored this class. You may remember a Muir Glen event I went to last year, where Will cooked up a bunch of different dishes using Muir Glen’s Reserve canned tomatoes.
This year they decided to vary it up a bit, and instead hold an intimate cooking class at the Boston School of Adult Education.
Along with a small bunch of folks (many bloggers like myself), I got my hands dirty and started chopping, chopping, and chopping!
I prepped the herbs, while others diced cucumbers, summer squash, and eggplant. Can you guess what we are making?
As we stood around the gorgeous kitchen at BCAE, Will talked to us about the key elements to making a good ratatouille (and no, this version is way easier than the Thomas Keller-like version you see in the movie!).
One is to add ingredients in the reverse order of how long each takes to cook. First saute the onions in olive oil, then add the eggplant and peppers. Finally, after about 10 minutes, add the canned tomatoes and zucchini.
Will also showed us how to make his classic tomato soup, which was super popular (and probably still is!) at Garden at the Cellar. The version incorporated smoked paprika as well as tarragon. For an even smokier depth, use fire roasted tomatoes instead.
Served together with grilled cheese sandwiches, it was the perfect combo.
After the cooking lesson, we sat down to enjoy the fruits of our hard work!
First, we tried the Reserve tomatoes right out of the can! This year’s reserve tomatoes are really pretty because they are a mixture of yellow and red tomatoes. They were actually quite flavorful by themselves. It was a tad saltier than I liked, but would work perfectly mixed with pasta or rice.
We then sampled the ratatouille, which was rustic, healthy, and quite tasty. I still personally prefer the Thomas Keller version. However, if you don’t have three hours to kill, this one comes together nicely in less than 20 minutes!
We also tasted his classic tomato soup as well as some grilled cheese sandwiches. This soup is always good, and easy to make at home (post coming soon!)
What else is Will up to?
He’s teaching a class for culinary students at Newbury College. In fact, he will be setting up a pop-up restaurant at the school in December with his students helping as part of their final project. They are doing an upscale take on “dorm food.” Rumor has it that O Ya’s chef will be helping out by teaching them how to make his interpretation of ramen!
Will has also been working weekends at various places. He still cooks at the Herb Lyceum, his parent’s restaurant in Groton, on most weekends. He’s also cooked at Menton one weekend, and talked about maybe stopping by Clio for a weekend to work as well.
He was mum about any new brick & mortar plans, unfortunately, although he promised he would let us know as soon as he could.
Of course, I tried to convince him to open up a restaurant in my new hood. We’ll see if he takes my suggestions.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 small eggplant, cubed 2 red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) Muir Glen® diced tomatoes
3 to 4 small zucchini or summer squash, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1. In 4-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add eggplant; stir until coated with oil. Add peppers; stir to combine.
2. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep vegetables from sticking.
3. Add tomatoes, zucchini and herbs; mix well.
4. Cover and cook over low heat about 15 minutes or until eggplant is tender but not too soft.
Muir Glen was generously enough to give me THREE special baskets full of this summer’s harvest of tomatoes! In each basket you get 2 cans of organic reserve tomatoes, 1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilies, and 1 can of no salt diced tomatoes. You also get a fun little recipe book that includes dishes designed by various chefs around the US, including Will.
To enter, please comment below letting me know what kind of posts you enjoy or would love to see on Tiny Urban Kitchen. You can suggest a particular restaurant write-up, a dish for me to make, or just any food (or even travel) topic. Of course I can’t promise to write about them all, but perhaps you’ll inspire me to try something I never would have thought of otherwise.
1 entry per person. US addresses only. Giveaway ends this Thursday, November 3rd at midnight, Eastern Standard Time. I reserve the right to pick a new winner if I cannot contact a winner after 3 days.
Disclaimer: Muir Glen sponsored the cooking class, the food, and the Giveaway prizes
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