Cooking Demo at McArdle’s Gets “Fired Up” with Sold Out Crowd

Jonathan Credit: Karen Sheer

Author and culinary teacher Jonathan Bardzik displays his latest book. Credit: Karen Sheer

Cook, author and storyteller Jonathan Bardzik engaged a sellout crowd at McArdle’s Florist & Garden Center Tuesday evening. The class “Fire It Up!” emphasized the best of local flavors, bridging Jonathan’s culinary talents with home grown organic herbs and vegetable plants available at the shop.

The audience was fully engaged watching Bardzik chop, dice and sauté as he told tales of his early cooking experiences as a kid. “Without a doubt my mother was probably the single biggest influence on me, I grew up in a very food-centric home.”

Jonathan set up the demo as all were anticipating learning his techniques and recipes. Credit: Karen Sheer

Jonathan set up the demo as all were anticipating learning his techniques and recipes. Credit: Karen Sheer

James McArdle introduces Credit: Karen Sheer

James McArdle introduces Bardzik to the sold out crowd. Credit: Karen Sheer

How to 'snap' an asparagus spear. Credit: Karen Sheer

How to ‘snap’ an asparagus spear. Credit: Karen Sheer

Spring asparagus was cut into small lengths and cooked, then a compound butter was whirled in. Credit: Karen Sheer

Spring asparagus was cut into small lengths and cooked, then a compound butter was whirled in. Credit: Karen Sheer

Asparagus with Tarragon Goat Cheese Butter. Credit: Karen Sheer

Asparagus with Tarragon Goat Cheese Butter. Credit: Karen Sheer

He has such a friendly demeanor, and boisterous showmanship; the attendees learned how to compose simple and delicious little dishes with fresh herbs used not as a garnish, but a main staple of flavor.

One could tell this chef (although he has no formal training) has been in front of many audiences sharing his passion for cooking and teaching the basic principles of growing your own food. He has a degree in performing arts, and is a natural in front of a crowd deglazing a pan or vigorously emulsifying a dressing.

A serving of Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes with Anchovy. Credit: Karen Sheer

A serving of Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes with Anchovy. Credit: Karen Sheer

Thai Cucumber Salad with Fresh Mint. Credit: Karen Sheer

Thai Cucumber Salad with Fresh Mint. Credit: Karen Sheer

Portobello and Blueberry Tacos with Cilantro. Credit: Karen Sheer

Portobello and Blueberry Tacos with Cilantro. Credit: Karen Sheer

Enjoying sampling the creative Tacos. Credit: Karen Sheer

Enjoying sampling the creative Tacos. Credit: Karen Sheer

Most Saturdays he can be seen at Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market, an indoor and outdoor farmers’ market in DC near his home, in all his glory staging cooking demos.

“Good food just makes life better,” he said. “Simple, delicious food brings people together,” he energetically added.

McArdle’s was the perfect setting for his farm-to-table themed demonstration. Lush with potted flowers, cut flowers and shrubs scattered throughout the sprawling shop, Bardzik displayed their extensive line of fresh potted herbs and vegetables. He offered tips on the characteristics of each, with essential growing tips.

And the food… four dishes were carefully assembled, a tasting of each was offered. Asparagus with Tarragon and Goat Cheese Butter, Thai Cucumber Salad with Mint, Portobello Blueberry Tacos with Cilantro and Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes with Anchovies were all tasty with bright and bold flavors.

Bardzik chops mushrooms for the tacos. Credit: Karen Sheer

Bardzik chops mushrooms for the tacos. Credit: Karen Sheer

The taco mixture is stirred, plump blueberries added sweetness and a bolt of color. Credit: Karen Sheer

The taco mixture is stirred, plump blueberries added sweetness and a bolt of color. Credit: Karen Sheer

Yum! All attendees sampled the simple and delicious food with local ingredients. Credit: Karen Sheer

Yum! All attendees sampled the simple and delicious food with local ingredients. Credit: Karen Sheer

Throughout the evening, tips were offered for culinary techniques like, how to chiffonade herbs, mash garlic into a paste, (with coarse salt) and grate just the zest from a lemon.

All left the class with an understanding on the health benefits of eating seasonally, and many determined to follow in Bardzik’s footsteps and plant some edible food in the garden.

Cookbooks were signed by the author. Credit: Karen Sheer

Cookbooks were signed by the author. Credit: Karen Sheer

Bardzik is the author of two books, Simple Summer: A Recipe for Cooking and Entertaining with Ease and Seasons To Taste, and were available after the demo, as were the shop’s selection of spring greenery.


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