Local chef Harley Ray Guy and four U.S. VETS culinary students prepared a four-course dinner Saturday, May 19 for Master Chef II – Passport to Paris.
Serving about 70 people at the Hilltop Café of Prescott Meals on Wheels, Guy said the idea to do a French menu came from wanting to do a different technique after last year’s inaugural event that featured Caribbean food.
“I wanted to show these guys, instead of super creative and off-the-wall, intricate cooking, I wanted to show them classic techniques,” he said.
Guy is the chef at Park Plaza Liquor and Deli.
The menu consisted of herbed goat cheese and broken nicoise olive tapenade on a toasted French baguette, seared ahi tuna nicoise haricoverts, fingerling potatoes, poached egg and champaign vinagarette, steak au poivre, roasted vegetables, cherry tomatoes and Hollandaise and pot de crème cheesecake with pernod and hazelnut.
Carolyn Baca, U.S. VETS culinary instructor, said it’s amazing to see her students be invited and work with a chef.
“It gives me such great pleasure to know that at the beginning of this, they did not have much kitchen experience,” Baca said, adding that now “they are comfortable in the kitchen, they know their way around.”
The U.S. VETS culinary program is a 13-week course designed to give veterans the skills to either go out and get a job or be self-sufficient when they get home, she said.
One of the participants, John Ross, said he took part in the program to keep busy and hone his skills as he’s had prior experience in the restaurant field and owned restaurants in Minnesota. Being able to cook in Master Chef II feels good and he’s learned quite a bit, Ross said.
“I learned a whole lot I never knew before working with Chef Harley,” he said.
Guy said he’s honored to have been asked back after doing the inaugural Master Chef event last year. It’s great to be a part of the event, helping and raising money for Prescott Meals on Wheels, he said.
“Giving back is a huge thing for me too,” Guy said. “In my recovery I haven’t really been able to give back to the community as much as I want, so any time I can do events like this, I’m happy to do it.”