Chef Kevin showcases twists on traditional holiday fare at next Chef’s Table
The holiday season calls for some delicious new hors d'oeuvres to serve at family functions and holiday parties. On Dec. 7, Culinary Services invites students, faculty and community members to spend the evening with Ohio University Chef Kevin Hurst as part of the latest Chef’s Table dining experience. The event, which will take place at 6 p.m. in the Jefferson Marketplace Culinary Studio, will feature plenty of twists on traditional holiday fare.
The last Chef’s Table event was completely sold out, so be sure to grab tickets soon!
Chef Kevin recently took some time away from Nelson Court to talk about his hand-picked holiday menu, what he loves about cooking demonstrations, and how he came to OHIO.
Food is such a big part of the holidays. How did you go about creating a menu based on something so personal for so many people?
I wanted to incorporate Thanksgiving, Christmas and the holiday season in general. There’s always a lot of family meals and cocktail parties around that time. I thought it’d be nice to have appetizers and things that can be shared with everyone and passed around. I looked at things that interested me and that I thought would be fun and different, but also would cross lots of different flavors for your guests. I have some spicy things, some things with a lot of meat, sweet things― there’s something for everyone.
Tell me about the dishes you’re making and why you chose them.
One of them is the palmiers, which is puff pastry that can be rolled with jam, cut thin and baked. When it’s rolled in from both sides, it looks like a bowtie. It’s easy to make but looks fancy. Another thing is the chicken and waffle bombs. Obviously, chicken and waffles is very popular, and this is just a little play on that. It’s a small little bite―crunchy, sweet, salty―all those things. Then we have bacon-wrapped Brussel sprouts because I love Brussel sprouts, especially in the winter, and anything wrapped in bacon is better. They’re small, sharable and give you a burst of flavor.
Can people make these dishes at home during their own holiday parties and gatherings?
I tried to make them easy enough that the average person could attempt them, but they can be involved if they want to. Some of them can be super easy―like with the chicken and waffles, you don’t have to make them from scratch. You can get the ingredients premade if that’s your skill set. The palmiers are nice because the puff pastry is a frozen dough you can get anywhere, and it’s very easy to work with. When you’re making holiday recipes, it’s important that you can spend time with your guests and not spend the whole time in the kitchen. But when you are you in the kitchen, you should be enjoying what you’re doing.
Have you done Chef’s Table before?
I have not, but I have done cooking demonstrations before. I like the small atmosphere of cooking demonstrations and working with the guests. It’s fun to be able to start in one direction and see where it goes, and maybe even teach someone something while I’m there.
What were you doing before you worked at OHIO?
I went to Hocking College in the Culinary and Baking program and worked in Columbus for six years. Then I worked at a wholesale bakery making cakes, pastries and desserts. I still bake as a passion, but now my real passion is recipe development and seeking out new ideas.
How did you come to OHIO?
I moved back to Athens, and I worked as a chef at the country club for a number of years. Then the university had an opening, and it seemed like a good step. I’ve been at Ohio University ever since. I’ve run Latitude 39, the coffee shops, West 82, and now Nelson Court.
Describe your day-to-day at OHIO.
All over the map. I could be in meetings, out working with cooks and fielding questions, ordering food, or working on recipes and programs for the coming semesters. It changes every day.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef at OHIO?
Getting to work with the students and the student leadership staff is a big one. It’s such a wide variety of people and interests, and it’s great to work with the students and watch them grow and get to see them be better students and better people. And I enjoy working with the cooks, too. It’s nice to teach them new techniques and skills. With this job, every day is different. I can come in and not know how today is going to go. You just have to go with the flow, and it’s kind of nice. It keeps me moving.