Beginning this month, chef Matt Haley’s SoDel Concepts will be offering a series monthly cooking demonstrations. The first will be held on Sept. 19 at NorthEast Seafood Kitchen in Ocean View.
“We started doing them last year. The owner, Matt Haley, used to do a food chat years ago, and that’s kind of what we’ve tried to resemble with what we’re doing here,” explained Colby Pusey, general manager at NESK. “It’s kind of nice in the off-season to bring people that are around the area in one place to enjoy food and drinks and have a fun night of cooking, talking and discussing food.”
Pusey said that, this year, the cooking demos will focus on East Coast cuisine, beginning in Delaware with the September demo and ending in Maine in April.
“We wanted to have a theme. We had one last year, which was more about the time of year we were in. This year, we’re focusing on a different state from Delaware to Maine each month. So each month we’ll do something that is indigenous to that area, whichever state we’re featuring — what’s local in that area, what we have local around here to use.”
For the September cooking demo, NESK chef Ronnie Burkle will work alongside Bluecoast head chef Doug Ruley to present Delaware-inspired dishes.
A cocktail hour will begin at 4:15 p.m., with small fare available to attendees, and the demo will begin at 6 p.m. Although the event is free, seating is limited and reservations are required.
“There is no cost to see the demo. It is free to the public,” emphasized Pusey. “The only thing that would be of cost is if someone were to indulge in an appetizer and drink from the bar. We’re going to have a small menu with some appetizers on it — just finger foods and a cash bar.”
The demo will run about an hour and give attendees the chance to see the recipes created by the SoDel chefs come together from ingredients to finished plates.
“The demo will start by our chef talking about the food, how they make it. They’ll demo a couple of things, and then everyone comes up and tries what they’ve cooked,” explained Pusey. “The whole point of this is to go home, try your recipes and come back and let us know how you made out. We want people to go home and try these things for their friends and families and come back and tell us how they did.”
Though the September demo will feature chefs from two SoDel restaurants, Pusey said that not all of the chefs running the demonstrations will be part of SoDel Concepts.
“We use a guest chef from other restaurants in our company, or we use a distributor from where we get our produce or fish from to come in and to speak to the guests that are here for the cooking demo on where to find good fish, good produce, the importance of using local products. The whole point is just educating and enjoying the experience together with the community.”
He noted that the cooking demos have grown from just 18 attendees to a full house of 70, with an additional 60 people on the waiting list for some of the events.
“It’s been great. We’ve seen the same faces back every month, but we also have new faces that sign up. That’s kind of why we do the reservation list, because a lot of the people that come to the demos say, ‘Can we just sign up for the next one?’ We don’t do that because we want everyone to get an equal chance to get on the list.”
Pusey added that he hopes the community will come out to learn a little bit about local food and maybe be inspired to cook something at home.
“The whole reason we started it was to bring people together in the community and have a great time in a casual atmosphere,” he said, “and just educate and learn from other people, too. That’s one of the great things about these demos: some people bring questions or have insights into what we’re doing. It helps us learn, too, and it makes it easy for us to create recipes that are easy to follow at home.”
For more information, or to register for the event, call (302) 537-1785 or visit www.northeastseafoodkitchen.com online.