Dinner at the EVOO Cooking School was one of the highlights of my stay in Cannon Beach. This well-loved foodie destination includes a cute but stocked gift shop, free Saturday food and wine tastings (11 am to 3 pm), and the Dinner Show, a four course interactive dinner hosted and prepared by Chef Bob Neroni and his wife Lenore Emery-Neroni. We were unfortunately unable to meet Lenore on the evening of our dinner show as she was called away on another commitment.
Bob began his culinary career in the early 80′s. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, but grew up in the kitchen as his grandfather owned a Jewish deli on New York’s Delancey Street. His Italian grandparents on his father’s side taught him the essentials of Italian cooking. He’s worked as an executive chef for Lowe’s, L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC, The Seattle Sheraton Hotel and Towers, and various Marriott Hotels around the US.
A move back to Seattle saw him working as a culinary educator, consultant, and regional director of events and catering for Compass Group USA, the world’s largest food management company. I asked him if a restaurant is in the works. His answer: “We still may have a restaurant under our belt.”
Why EVOO? That’s one of the questions I asked Bob during the evening. Bob and Lenore picked 100 names, whittling selections down to a dozen, and so forth. As the couple like to cook with any culture that uses extra virgin olive oil in its cooking, this seemed like a fine solution. It also gives them a lot of latitude to try different things in their business.
The dinner show is hosted six nights a week in summer, four in winter, plus a Sunday supper, summer Farmer’s market meal, and hands-on classes. As well, EVOO hosts two yearly culinary trips to Tuscany, through their Encore Club. This allow 14 guests to partake in the region’s culinary delights, and Bob offers trip priority to his regulars.
Bob had two culinarians to help out for the evening: Florencio and Eduardo. They managed our group of 16 (a full house), with wine pouring, course platings, kitchen help, oven to stove trips, etc. both smiling along the way.
The dinner show menu changes monthly, using 100% sustainable and organic ingredients. That means 100% of the animal or fish that’s purchase is used. Seafood choices change rapidly to reflect the fishing season’s demands. The wild mushrooms are locally foraged and used within two days of picking.
Bob likes to explain as he goes along, allowing for questions from the group. As well, Bob discusses each wine, what we’re tasting, and how to enjoy each pairing with its chosen dish. Bob: “It’s important to find the essence and tastes in each wine to help pair it with food.”
Chef Neroni’s culinary ‘trinity’ includes sel gris (sea salt), black pepper (Tellicherry peppercorns), and ground coriander.
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