Lunch Hour Chef at CUESA

One of our Lunch Hour Chefs shows off some freshly grilled peaches.Friday, August 1st marked the first of a month-long series of Lunch Hour Chef, a partnership between CUESA (the Center for Urban Education and Sustainable Agriculture) and Parties That Cook. It’s like a quick mini-version of a cooking party while offering a nice respite from work in the middle of the day. You have to eat anyway — why not make it fun, healthy and homemade? This menu consisted of Grilled Chicken (or Grilled Vegetable for non-meat eaters) Sandwiches with Marinated Artichokes and Lemony Hummus and a Salad of Arugula with Grilled Peaches, Gorgonzola and Candied Walnuts. Not only do you get to make a yummy lunch, learn tips from super-Chef John Silva while making new friends. It’s the perfect antidote to those days when you’re nose is to the grindstone but you feel like you’re getting nowhere. This isn’t work; it’s instant, delicious, friendly, buttery, sweet, grilled gratification.

Parties That Cook and CUESA go together like wine and cheese, and the gathering began with a brief discussion by Christine Farren of CUESA. We got the lowdown on the farmer who grew the peaches we were grilling, as well as some of the perks of shopping at farmers markets (in short, supporting the farmer over supporting the corporation is the healthiest choice for the consumers, the growers and the earth). Then PTC Chef John helped everyone get into the groove by demonstrating tips for the menu, such as how to “show the peach who’s boss” and how to butterfly a chicken. Armed with the correct tools and tips, the guests broke up into two groups to begin lunch.

The grill was aflame, the oil was steeping and nearly everyone wielded a knife (when else can you play with knives during the workday?) as chickpeas were whirring for hummus and fragrant peaches were brushed with sugar and fruity olive oil while waiting to be roasted for the peppery and creamy Arugula and Point Reyes Blue Cheese Salad. You might even call the experience therapeutic as the bursting aromas, the sunny crisp background and the relaxed yet energetic company all offered a nice preview of what the weekend might hold while offering a break from that grindstone — at least enough so we could go back in and tackle it sated, educated and refreshed.

I think it’s safe to say that a tasty and fun time was had by all. For more information or to sign up for a class, go to





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