Friday, October 8, 2010

Crab Cakes in Minnesota?....You Betcha!

Crab Foo delicious!

I'm going to be honest. I didn't know who Chef Tom Douglas was before I went to see him. I received notice from Macy's Culinary Council about a week ago that there was to be another cooking event, this time at the Macy's downtown. As luck would have it, I had requested the day off from work, so I decided to take a look see. This time Pete came with me (he is still upset that he missed the Cat Cora event) and we met my sister and niece at the store. What a great time we had!

For the uninformed (like me), Tom Douglas is a cookbook author and restaurateur (his restaurants are all in the Northwest, so I guess I don't feel so bad about my ignorance). In 1994, he won the James Beard award for Best Northwest Chef and, here's a fun fact, he was up against Iron Chef Morimoto on Food Network's Iron Chef America--and won! Recently, he partnered with to create an exclusive line of kitchen products to instill "confidence in the kitchen".

The theme of this event was based on his most recent book, I Love Crab Cakes!, an amazing collection of all things crab cake. His first recipe was for Avocado and Crab Salad "Cakes" with Spicy Mayo. Fresh crab salad and avocado slices are shaped with ring molds (he actually uses PVC pipe at home, although you can use tomato cans with the tops and bottoms removed). To finish it off, he topped it with a little salmon roe.

Before things really got started Chef Tom passed around a bowl of crab for us to smell how fresh crab should smell. It smelled like the ocean.

Avocado and Crab Salad "Cakes" with Spicy Mayo

Here's the sample we got. It was lovely.

That the Chef is an advocate for "confidence in the kitchen" was especially evident when he described the kitchen tools he liked to use or that he recommended the home cook to use. His advice was all about comfort, from the type of knife to use (he recommends the Wusthof brand, with a textured handle for comfort) to the best kind of saute pan (stainless steel works best for high heat--just use a scrubby to clean it out). It only makes sense that a cook who feels confident and comfortable will have success in the kitchen.

The next recipe on the agenda was for the Crab Foo egg foo yung made with fresh crab, but without the gelatinous gravy that you find at most restaurants.

This little sample was gobbled up fast.

All the while our Chef was cooking, he was keeping us engaged and interested. At one point, he asked us which chef from the Macy's Culinary Council was our favorite so far. Like an idiot, I shouted "Cat Cora". He made some amusing comment about her popularity and then my husband shouted out that his favorite chef was Tom Douglas! We all know that was the right answer----he called Pete up front and center, grabbed one of his cookbooks, signed it and practically gave Pete a big kiss. LOL

Pete makes his way up to see Chef Tom.

Pretty risky stuff---the chef's wife was in the audience.

The last recipe of the event was the absolute best, in my opinion----Mr. Joe's Tomato Gravy Crab Cakes with Smoky Bacon. Chef Tom brought us back to his childhood where his next-door neighbor, Mr. Joe, used to invite the family over and serve toast smothered in a tomato gravy--canned tomato sauce and bacon grease. The Chef grew to like this so much, that he uses it to this day.

As cliche as it sounds, it just doesn't get much better than this. Pete is bound and determined for me to learn how to make this one!

In the end, Chef Tom left us feeling like we could make all of these great recipes in our own kitchens with no problems at all. A light hand with the crab, the right equipment, fresh ingredients and confidence are really all we need.

Chef Tom Douglas and me. I can't wait to travel to the Northwest to dine in one of his restaurants.

Macy's was kind enough to offer me a $25 gift card to share my thoughts about Tom Douglas' demonstration. I think I'll put it toward a cookbook when the next chef comes to Macy's and then have a giveaway. What do you think?


  1. I went on a food tour of Seattle and we had his crab cakes! They were amazing - I think they were my favorite thing we tasted. You lucky duck you!

  2. Wow! How exciting! All the crab cakes look yummy!

  3. I need to get up to Seattle and go to Lola. That is SO totally cool that you got to hang with him... Funny that you mentioned the Avocado Crab cakes though. I just had a warm avocado half with a crab salad in it for lunch today.

  4. Oh, Cathy, I truly did LOL when you said the wrong chef's name, how funny. And then Pete gets a book autographed 'I Love Pete'.....what a great day! You are going to be famous soon, I just know it!

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