Winter Chef Series hosts executive chef of Noca in a personal cooking lesson

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Photos by Madeline Pado

In an intimate room set for 12, the smell of sizzling bacon filled the air as an executive chef shared his recipes and cooking tips in a personal cooking lesson.

Following the success of their Summer Chef Series, Devour Phoenix and the Phoenix Public Market have paired again to offer a personal cooking experience. The Winter Chef Series is a twice-a-week opportunity for customers to meet local chefs while watching and participating in a demonstration on how to create a signature three-course meal.

Tuesday’s two-hour demonstration was presented by Matt Taylor, the executive chef of Noca.

The demonstrations familiarize members of the community with using seasonal produce while providing a unique cooking experience, said Margaree Bigler, event coordinator for Devour Phoenix.

For $55, participants not only observe and learn how to cook three dishes, but they also dine on the full meal, paired with local beers and wines.

Travis Timmons, 38, came from Chandler to Tuesday evening’s demonstration. As a former cook, Timmons said he liked “getting to know the chef personally, where his influences come from and the stories behind why he cooks things that way.”

During his demonstration, Taylor shared stories about the producers Noca buys its ingredients from. He explained how these stories often inspire the cooking at the restaurant.

In addition to supporting local producers, Taylor is an advocate of buying ingredients from within the country. He emphasized the importance of sustaining the nation’s producers by sharing knowledge on how rice grains in America were almost extinct after the Civil War.

Devour Phoenix and the Phoenix Public Market share a mission of supporting local producers. They encourage their featured chefs to incorporate products that the market sells, said Natalie Morris, Phoenix Public Market Public Events Manager.

Scott and Lisa Schoneman, a couple that attended the Tuesday demonstration, were returning participants of the Summer Chef Series. They live downtown and patronize the Phoenix Public Market.

The couple go for the personal experience and casual atmosphere.

“Food is a very personal thing, and it tastes different when you know who’s cooking it and why they are cooking it that way,” Taylor said.

Unlike the typical restaurant setting, the Winter Chef Series encourages customers to ask questions and learn not only about cooking but also about the chef as an individual.

Saturday’s session will feature Chef Danielle Leoni of The Breadfruit. Leoni will be sharing recipes for Appleton rum scallops, braised ox tail and Caribbean chocolate souffle.

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Correction: January 30, 2012

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Travis Timmons as Travis Simmons.