Chef Corey Comeau at Williams-Sonoma

On Thursday night, I attended my first, and definitely not my last, free cooking demo at the Williams-Sonoma store in the Copley Place Mall. I heard about the event from the very nice people at Warner Communications, and since it involved a Chopped winner and local executive chef, I made a point to attend.

Chef Corey Comeau is the Executive Chef of Stephanie’s on Newbury and Stephi’s on Tremont and was the winner of the Food Network show Chopped this past October. For his appearance at Williams-Sonoma, he cooked up one of Stephi’s menu items, seared sea scallops with butternut squash puree and cranberry port reduction, served with a little arugula salad and mustard vinaigrette.

Chef Corey Comeau at Williams Sonoma

Williams-Sonoma cooking demo

Chef Comeau talked and answered questions throughout the demo, and I actually learned quite a bit, especially about cooking scallops. His were cooked to a nice, caramelized brown on each side, something I strive for but never seem to be able to accomplish. To cook the scallops, which were U10 sea scallops, he used a mixture of butter and olive oil and used fresh scallops, never ones that are frozen and water packed. He also recommended not crowding the pan with scallops. He only cooked six at a time to ensure that the scallops received even heat and did not cool the pan down.

Chef Corey Comeau

He made a few interesting points about butternut squash and its naturally watery consistency. It should never be boiled because boiling just waters it down and makes it stringy. Instead, Chef Comeau cooked peeled squash in a pan with butter and onions and pureed it at the end, leaving a creamy, flavorful squash without any added sugar. Because he didn’t boil it, he didn’t need to add lots of extra flavorings. I could have eaten an entire pan of the squash alone.

The cranberry port reduction was simply dried cranberries and port reduced down through cooking on the stovetop.

Williams-Sonoma cooking demo

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The smells in the demo area of the Williams-Sonoma store definitely drew a crowd, and because scallops cook so quickly, we didn’t have to wait for a tasty sample of Chef Comeau’s cooking. Each member of the audience received a bed of arugula, butternut squash, and cranberry port reduction topped with a perfectly cooked, sweet sea scallop. This was actually a satisfying little appetizer all in itself. I loved how simple it was and how Chef Comeau walked us through the cooking process. This is definitely a dish I would feel confident making at home.

Diver Scallops

But that wasn’t it! Chef Comeau also brought some of his chocolate cupcakes topped with buttercream that contained Williams-Sonoma peppermint bark. I was eyeing the cupcakes up the second I arrived at the store, and they did not disappoint this lover of buttercream.

chocolate cupcakes with peppermint bark buttercream

Served atop even more peppermint bark, the cupcakes were rich and chocolate-y with the perfect contrast from the cool, refreshing peppermint.

chocolate cupcakes with peppermint bark buttercream chocolate cupcakes with peppermint bark buttercream

The cupcakes were picture-perfect and the perfect holiday treat Smile.

chocolate cupcake with peppermint buttercream

There were so many great things about this demo, Chef Comeau’s informative, laid back style of cooking and teaching, the delicious food samples, and the questions from some of the people who wandered in from their holiday shopping. I am one of those people who never think of a question in the moment at events like these, and I appreciated the people who had questions and asked them. Chef Comeau answered each and every one, sometimes a few times to accommodate shoppers that arrived at different times, and it gave us all a nice glimpse into the type of chef he is, and for those who hadn’t eaten at Stephi’s or Stephanie’s, an idea of the menus and ambiances of the restaurants.

Now that I know the demos are so much fun, I will definitely keep an eye out for more of them. And ever since seeing Chef Comeau do the demo, I have been thinking about the lobster macaroni and cheese at Stephi’s. Tis the season for comfort food, and I love the way they do it at Stephi’s!

Have you ever been to a chef demo at a store or other place? When you think of comfort food, what is the first thing that pops into your head?

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Tags: Boston, Chef Corey Comeau, Chopped, cooking demo, Cupcakes, Food, scallops, Stephanie's on Newbury, Stephi's on Tremont, Williams-Sonoma

  1. Michelle’s avatar

    I have seen signs for chef demos and book signings at Williams Sonoma but I haven’t actually gone to one. Please let me know the next time you are going because I’d love to join you!

    Reply

  2. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic’s avatar

    I’ve never been to a demo at Williams Sonoma! I’ll be on the lookout for the next one, I would definitely like to check it out. When I think of comfort food, I think of pasta!

    Reply

  3. Elizabeth’s avatar

    A chef after my own heart; butternut squash followed by cupcakes. I love Williams-Sonoma. I can just get lost in there amongst all the fun stuff.

    Reply

  4. Daisy’s avatar

    This looks like such a fun and informative time. Holy buttercream frosting on those insanely good looking cupcakes. Jody Adams cooked scallops at her demonstration class too! I think it is great to learn such easy and invaluable tips from the pros!! Oh and my favorite comfort food besides what you already mentioned would totally be a heart grilled cheese with bacon and tomato, and tomato soup!!

    Reply

    1. Daisy’s avatar

      *hearty grilled cheese. hehe

      Reply

    2. Elina (Healthy and Sane)’s avatar

      I’m tempted to check out their demos on Sunday every week but never seem to make them. I’ll need to make it a priority soon! Wanna make a date?

      Reply

    3. Heather’s avatar

      I have never been to a food demo but let me tell you – I’m drooling at my desk. Not only are scallops one of my favorites, but peppermint bark too!

      Reply

    4. Sandra’s avatar

      Everything looks so good! Photos are FAB! Thanks for sharing

      Reply

    5. Tina’s avatar

      That sounds fantatsic. I am green with envy. I LOVE Williams Sonoma and that would be a great day for me to see a demo. Great photos – love your post :-)

      Reply

    6. A Boston Food Diary’s avatar

      Great recap of a delicious evening! I was really impressed with the set up as well- cant wait to attend more!

      Reply

    7. Terri’s avatar

      You can make this meal for me!!

      Reply

    8. Katie’s avatar

      I’ve always wondered about these! Very cool that you went. Those cupcakes looks really good! yum!

      Reply

    9. Megan’s avatar

      W-S peppermint bark in the buttercream — oh I so need to make those! I can’t say there’s much better than being at W-S (best store ever) and watching a chef demo and getting samples. Sounds like a fabulous evening!

      Reply

    10. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

      I just saw him on TV Diner. He seems very down to earth. This must’ve been a really fun event.

      Reply

    11. Kelly’s avatar

      I can’t even focus at all on the rest of this post because I want one of those cupcakes SO badly… that peppermint bark is my current obsession and cupcakes are always my obsession. But back to the butternut squash, I want some of that.

      Reply

    12. alicia’s avatar

      I love chef demos – and I’ve seen a few. I always get so geeked out by chefs…
      I end up just standing there mouth gaping and I can never think of a good question…..

      those scallops look perfect.

      Pasta is definitely one of my favorite comfort foods.

      Reply

    13. Emily’s avatar

      I attended a demo at WS on knife skills.. it was interesting, although I feel with this sort of demo it’s best to do not just watch. Those cupcakes looks delicious!

      Reply

    14. Amanda @ bakingwithoutabox’s avatar

      That looks like fun! I love when chefs will Q&A on their dishes.

      Reply

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