For students in the Culinary Arts class, CUL 195: Food and Wine Pairing, supplies for their final full class session were pans and spatulas instead of pencils and Scantron® forms.
Rebecca Davidson, Certified Sommelier, instructor for this course is also the wine supervisor at Total Wine & More, in Reno.
Two local chefs enrolled in the class. One of the chefs is Tim Meevasin. He is a 2008 graduate of Truckee Meadows Community College in Culinary Arts. Since then, Meevasin has been working as a professional chef. His business, Tim Meevasin, Personal Chef, features in-home prepared meals, private dinner parties and "massive paella events". Another student in the class, Didier Laborde, is an executive pastry chef at Eldorado Resort Casino.
Chef Meevasin enrolled in the class in order to better recommend best wines to pair with meal courses he prepares for clients. Typically, his plated dinners are three courses and each can be paired with a different wine.
The week before their final assignment was due — their final full class session on April 25 — three local wine professionals gave a panel discussion about developing restaurant wine menus. As a thank you to the panel, the students in the class cooked a multi-course gourmet meal for the guest panel.
The courses were salad, paella and dessert, each with its chosen wine. Meevasin prepared paella, a Spanish rice dish with seafood, vegetables and saffron.
“Saffron is the most expensive spice, by weight, in the world,” Meevasin said.
Professionally, he utilizes three huge paella pans, and each pan can cook enough food for 50 people (so, three pans can serve a 150-guest wedding).
Chef Laborde prepared the dessert for the thank-you dinner.
Culinary Food and Wine Pairing is a semester-long course
This Fall, students read chapters of the textbook, completed take-home assignments, and brought in articles relevant to the readings. Davidson brought wines for pairing to each class and talked about characteristics of each. A paid culinary aid at TMCC prepared menu items, and some of the students also volunteered to buy or cook sample foods to bring in and share. Cheese was one of the favorites.
“The thing that made this class so successful was that we were able to taste three or four wines and taste food that goes best with these wines at each class,” he said. “So it really builds your palate during the course of the semester.”
The final exam was separate from the last full class thank you dinner. For the final exam, students created a wine menu, with the appropriate wine pairing for each course. Creating a wine menu reflected one chapter of the course. Final work was due on May 2, along with an essay and written exam.
He said the food and wine pairing class was an immersive experience.
“It was a great way to learn in depth,” he said. “If you just read about pairing and don’t actually taste the wines with food, it doesn’t give you the full experience that you get when you read about it and then actually taste the two together. So, it was a very successful course.”
For more information, please contact TMCC's Culinary Arts Program.