A Look Inside Vic Casanova’s Tasting Panel at Culina

Have you ever wanted to peer into a chef’s test kitchen and, like your idol Simon Cowell, rate his creations? With this in mind, Culina chef Vic Casanova has helped organize The Tasting Panel at Culina, a combination cooking class/dish tasting/wine pairing demo/R&D; session now available on the second Sunday of every month. The two-and-a-half hour, $85 session finds Casanova demoing a few new dishes that may or may not make it on to the menu, depending on your feedback. The chef shows you how to cook it, lets you eat it, and then asks you to rate and discuss what worked and what didn’t, while sommelier Brick Loomis does his best to impair your judgement. The food selection changes with each session, but for this past weekend’s very first class, Casanova showed Grub Street how to grill Santa Barbara spot prawns and ahi steak, prepare a crudo involtini, and top it off with a dessert of fragole. Come take a look at what’s cooking at Culina in our slideshow.

First order of business ? Get organized!
When the chef presented the live Santa Barbara spot prawns, one leaped out of the bowl and tried scurrying away.
Casanova stated that the simplest approach to prawns is the best, given their natural flavor and sweetness. He just threw them on the grill and later added just a little salt and pepper.
With wild arugula, corn shoots, grilled corn, and heirloom tomato vinaigrette.
Funghetto typically refers to mushrooms, but here it is eggplant caramelized in the style of mushrooms.
Over eggplant funghetto with bagna cauda.
Casanova prepared involtini (typically rolled meat) out of cucumber, yellow tail, sea urchin, and basil, with sea urchin vinaigrette
For dessert, the chef served Harries Berries’ strawberries with whipped black pepper sheep’s milk ricotta, fresh basil, olive oil, and aged balsamic.
A Look Inside Vic Casanova’s Tasting Panel at Culina