Think you know everything about Houston’s venerable, high-class hotel Four Seasons? The hotel is full of nooks, crannies, kitchens, wine rooms, special suites and ballrooms. Every Friday in July starting at 7 p.m., executive chef Maurizio Ferrarese and his staff of the hotel’s restaurant, Quattro, are taking culinary adventurers on an interactive tour full of fun, mystery, food and plenty of wine.
The Chef’s Culinary Tour is a progressive dinner that has a little bit of everything. It starts in the kitchen with a glass of bubbly. Guests have to sign a waiver, as they’ll be doing a bit of cooking later. It’s no fun to give all the secrets away, so we’ll just say on the way to your first course, you’ll make a brief stop for a guessing game.
For many of us, this might also be the only time we’ll ever be inside the Presidential Suite, much less dine in there. The first course of the evening is inside the chic accommodations, which is as big as many people’s full-time residences.
From there, it’s back down to the kitchen—specifically, the garde manger, a room used for the preparation of salads and other cool dishes. In this case, though, it’s for an exploration of caviar. Guests will get to see first-hand how Quattro smokes its own salmon roe, taste it and two other kinds, then try their own hands at putting together a warm appetizer topped with the delicacy.
Next, it’s off to a private dining room set up with many simmering pots of water, colanders and cutting boards. That’s right: it’s pasta time and chef Ferrarese leads a demonstration on how he makes long sheets of dough. Amateur cooks need not worry. None of the cooking is particularly difficult, but there’s still something rewarding about cutting homemade pasta and putting a bit of your own effort toward the delicious homemade tomato sauce. That is not to say that experienced cooks won’t end up with a few tips and tricks as well.
Soon, guests realize that the pasta they've worked on is simply a side dish as servers bring in the main dishes. There's also a flight of pinot noir that represents vineyards up and down the Western coast.
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Finally, it’s dessert time and the students are given all the components needed to make their own tiramisu: espresso spiked with marsala wine, ladyfingers and mascarpone cream.
All along the way, Quattro’s sommeliers and bartenders make sure that no glass goes unfilled and the libations change along the way to match every course of the traveling dinner. For food lovers, it’s one of the most fun dates or outing with friends to be had in Houston and should not be missed during this brief time that it is available.
There is only one way to improve upon the experience. Should you care to spring for it, it would have been great to have a room at the Four Seasons to crash in afterward for sweet dreams made of caviar and cream.
The Chef’s Culinary Tours begin at 7 p.m. and cost a very reasonable $79 per person or $145 per couple. (Frankly, it's a phenomenal bargain consider all the food and drinks included—not to mention the whimsy.) Reservations are required as space is limited for each tour. To reserve your spot, call 713-276-4700.