Date Night In: The Chef & The Dish

This is a true Throwback Thursday, but it is no less important than any other fantastic experience we have had since we moved back to WNY. In fact, this particular experience has been one of our favorite dates ever.  A month ago we used our passports for the first time to head over the border to the Scotia Bank Convention Center to participate in the Niagara Food and Wine Festival as guests of The Chef & the Dish. We took to the demo stage and performed an act of culinary prowess (or a complete culinary comedy show) with professional chefs around the globe.

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What is The Chef & the Dish? Private cooking lessons given via Skype by a professional chef in a country of your choosing. Each chef has been hand selected by founder Jenn Nicken (read all about her adventures here), and prepare 2-3 dishes with you over the course of a couple hours. Not only do you learn how to craft a dish, but you have the opportunity to interact with the chef and learn all about their culture and their home of origin.

Owner and Founder Jenn Nicken

Though we never expected to be asked to demo on stage at the Niagara Food and Wine Festival, it was an absolute honor to cook with Chef Agnes from Budapest, Hungary and Chef Ana from Seville, Spain. We donned our aprons and mic’d up and cooked several incredible dishes with two dynamic and talented chefs.


Saturday we enjoyed the company and skill of Chef Aggie, who delighted us with stories from Hungary. We cooked Potato Paprikash, one of Aggie’s signature dishes. Though we cooked for the audience and therefore more than doubled the recipe, the ingredients and directions were simple enough for us to replicate this at home.

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On Sunday we explored Spanish cuisine with Chef Ana, and had our first experiences with cuttlefish. I am not normally as adventurous with seafood in our kitchen, but after our foray into the sea with Ana, I’m motivated to continue the exploration. Not only did we craft what was a lovely seafood dish, but we made a traditional gazpacho which I never knew was so easy! My family has strong ties to Spain and Spanish culture, and so speaking with Ana about familiar dishes was comforting as well as educational.

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Hear me now: this experience was transformative. I’ve been missing our date nights in the kitchen, sipping wine and creating while dancing to crooners or jazz. Scott and I adore cooking, and though we wish we could travel more, The Chef & the Dish allowed us to bring a foreign culture into our lives with just a computer screen. Speaking with Agnes and Ana reminded me that this world, though very large and complex, really boils down to sharing culture and food with others, a lovely and basic social ritual. Food truly unites all, and this opportunity was one we will cherish forever.


A profound thank you to Jenn and Olivia from The Chef & the Dish, as well as our culinary experts Chef Agnes and Chef Ana. We adored our time with you and look forward to more experiences in the future!

To learn more about The Chef & the Dish, check out their website – let us know when you book your own experience!


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