Saturday, March 27, 2010

majolica embraces economy by offering an edible education

(above a photographic recap of the sample dishes Chef Andrew Deery offers during his cooking demonstrations.)

Food-obsessed fiends may have lamented when Chef Andrew Deery announced early 2009 that his locally-inspired eatery, Majolica of Bridge Street, was painstakingly closing its doors.

With the economic downturn significantly impacting his and his wife's, Sarah Johnson, establishment, the darling duo confessed that they could not "go anymore."

"We ran out of money and we hit the wall," retold Deery. "It was an honest-to-goodness closing."

Since late 2008, when economy led many daring diners to have an acute accountability per each penny spent and also, created them to dine out in upscale eateries less and less, the entrepreneurial couple decided that they could possibly recover if they reexamined and modified their business for the ever-present economy.

Inspired by the outcries of those had come to love the old business model of the sophisticated, luxurious "special occasion spot," Deery and Johnson downsized their kitchen staff, sliced their prices, mapped a menu approachable to the masses and even, added Sundays to their open availability.

However, what Deery did not think twice of doing was compromising his craftsmanship, opting to always continue his offerings of eclectic, skillful entrees paired with delicate, seductive sauces and cozy, small-plated bistro creations.

With a reemergence onto Phoenixville's dining scene as of the summer of 2009, Deery also announced he was willing to weasel is way outside of his kitchen to host a series of cooking demonstrations for the local community to uncover, step-by-step, the pinch-perfect quality of his edible successes.

As a chef, who has spent a majority of his professional career behind closed doors, surprisingly offering cooking demos has also become an awarding experience for Deery, as well.

"It has really helped me out personally and I have come to enjoy being in front of people," he confessed.

Twice a month, with a distinct theme per each, the proprietor entertains his dining room of almost 20 guests with the tricks of his trade, and appealingly concludes each affair with a succulent sampling of what was just prepared before their hungry eyes.

As an evening defined as a "conversation," Deery invites attendees, along the way, to share their personal experience with whatever the chef is crafting at each given moment. He also promotes the hands-on approach to the course by allowing his guests to continuously sneak to the front of his room and practice slicing, dicing, twisting, sculpting, or reenacting whatever kitchen-inspired motion he previously demonstrated.

Adoring the simplicities of the ritual of making and eating food together, Deery suggests that his classes aren't just pumped with people looking to fill their stomachs (although that is a perk), but rather those in attendance are generally interested in learning the subject manner.

A chef who appreciates the value of keeping your money local and supporting your community, Deery leads programs pumped with local produce and materials on pasta making, knife sharping and skills, dessert making, vegetarian cuisine, and much, much more.

"There's value in shaking the hand of the farmer that grew your food," he said.

Following suit of Majolica's philosophy to bring the farm to the table, the operating duo also invites local farmers and business partners into their restaurant for specialty dinners, like their extremely popular, upcoming Sly Fox Beer Dinner on March 30.

"A lot of farmers and small businesses recognize the benefits of working together," said Deery.

Deery devised a menu with Sly Fox's brewmaster Brian O'Reilly to together feature the best of both of their worlds. Additionally, the chef will use Sly Fox's wert (un-fermented beer) to create a mild sweet syrup that pairs wonderfully with a spread of cheeses.

Other specialty dinners that will have Majolica diving deep into the spring season includes a meal with Birchrun Hills Farm, held April 27; a jazz dinner featuring Erin Dickens, held May 4; and a sustainable fish dinner and discussion, with a date to be announced.

To tantalize your kitchen techniques via Deery's friendly expertise, his April cooking demonstration is themed around knife sharpening and how to always achieve the sleekest and sharpest blade on all of your kitchen's knives, held April 6 and 20.

"I'm forming friendships I never would have envisioned," concluded Deery of his evenings of entertaining his guests with an edible education focused around approachable foods.

For more information, or to participate, visit Majolica here or call 610-917-0962.

Also published here.