The Main Course: Up Close & Personal with Executive Chef Andrew Pearce
You’ve never experienced private dining like The Main Course, A Guided Culinary Experience with Executive Chef Andrew Pearce. This exceptional affair will satisfy your hunger for fine dining and elevate your cooking to the next level. Learn all about how Chef Andrew Pearce designed this upscale dining experience.
Question: How did you discover your love of cooking?
Chef Pearce: Growing up, my dad was always working, and he had a small catering job on the side. I figured a way for us to get closer would be if I learned how to cook so I could help him. I went to high school for culinary arts, and I ended up getting really good at it. After a while, I stopped doing it for him and it became my passion. After high school, I went on to culinary school and was on Hell’s Kitchen, and now I’m here.
Q: Describe the training you’ve had and how it’s shaped you as a chef.
CP: I went to a French culinary school in Pittsburgh, PA, Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts, and there I learned all of the classic French techniques. I learned quality and making sure that everything is perfect. It was there that I discovered my love of details. I worked in Florida for Colombian chef Alberto Avila. I developed my thick skin and learned how to take criticism very well working with him. When I moved back to Philly, I was a sous chef at The Palm, and learned from another chef named Johnny, who was probably the most talented chef I ever worked for. He taught me a lot about what being a mentor was. Johnny taught me about taking pride in what I do and taking chefs and building them up. Taking lead from my general manager here at Hugo’s, I learned how to be part of a family environment and show the chefs that if you take interest in their lives, they’ll do anything for you.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
CP: Seeing the reaction on people’s faces when they try my food! When I’m cooking, I always grab people to come test it because I love to see people’s reactions. I love watching their faces light up and see them smile. My favorite part of being a chef is making people happy with something I created.
Q: What does a normal day look like for you?
CP: Normal day starts off in the kitchen; going through the walk-ins, checking product and making sure everything is in its right place. Doing inventory in the morning and making sure you have enough food for the night shift. After that, I usually break down fish, doing salmon and sea bass, filleting and deboning. After that, I’ll make sure everything is up to par from the salads to the food items. I’ll connect with the nighttime cooks, let them know what happened during the day and what we have going on for the night. If we have any parties, I’ll make sure they have support if they need any help. I’ll get with the sous chefs, talk to them and see what’s going on. I’ll greet my staff; each day I try to make sure I have at least one conversation with everyone that’s working that night. On busy nights, I’ll check every piece of food that leaves the kitchen. I’ll welcome guests, go into the dining room and check on the people there. I want to see if they liked everything, or if there’s anything we can improve. We’re always trying to make the guest experience just a little bit better. We only get one chance with the guests that come in, so I really preach to my staff about making every meal count. Everyone who walks in the door is a celebrity.
Q: Tell us about The Main Course. What can guests expect?
CP: The Main Course is something unique to us. The guests can expect an amazing experience with one-on-one contact with me from start to finish. We’ll be going over how the meal is prepared, talking wine, where to source great beef from, where to get fresh vegetables and how to get seasonal items. And it’s going to be a lot of fun! It’s a cooking class where you’ll get to interact with the best meal of your life. The one-on-one with the chef makes it special. Usually you go to a restaurant, order your food, and eat. If the food was great, you can tell the servers to tell the chef it was great. With The Main Course, you get to see from start to finish where the meal comes from and how it ends up being that delicious meal you get at the end.
Q: How many courses can guests look forward to?
CP: We’ll be doing a four-course dinner. The last course, possibly the main event, is always dessert. There we’ll present our huge, seven-layer chocolate cake. Courses 1-3 will be seasonal yet unexpected seafood or steak items I’ll prepare.
Q: What is the intention behind educating your audience while preparing excellent meals?
CP: My intention is to get guests involved, to have fun with the food and see them smile. It’s not just dinner; it’s an event. It’s something different. My intention is to have them leave wanting to come back again. It’s not just about The Main Course, it’s all about the evening. I preach in my kitchen that it needs to feel like family as soon as you walk in. It should feel like you’re at the dinner table with friends and family where everyone is laughing and enjoying themselves.
Q: What are you most excited for with this new dining experience, The Main Course?
CP: I am most excited for the first bite. When I put the food down in front of guests and they get that “Wow!” look on their face. When you take that first bite of something that is absolutely delicious, and you pucker your lips and you make that “Mmmm!” sound. That’s what I’m most excited for.
Q: How did you choose which dishes you would feature in The Main Course?
CP: I really want to focus on ingredients that guests wouldn’t be able to get in other places. It’ll be a customizable menu based on what’s in season. If a guest loves the meal and wants to come back again in the summer, the meal will be completely different from what they tried in the winter or the spring. It’s going to be this ever-changing, exciting and fun menu.
Q: Will you reveal your favorite ingredients used in meals for The Main Course?
CP: Scallops! I love incorporating scallops into every menu. A sneak peek into the menu for December would be seared scallops, with a pumpkin risotto, dried cranberries, cinnamon mascarpone and a sage brown butter, a little bit of toasted pumpkin seeds, roasted beets and some crushed pistachios.
Q: How is The Main Course unique?
CP: It’s going to provide a dining experience unlike any other. You get to see it in action, right then and there being prepared. You can stop me, ask me questions, see the food raw until it becomes the final product. Most chef dinners show the creative aspect of the chef, but you only see what’s on the plate. With this experience, you get to see me cook.
Q: Who can get the most out of The Main Course?
CP: Anybody! Anybody who loves to learn about food and eating a good meal will enjoy it. People can come out and enjoy themselves. Those who aren’t afraid to ask questions, like, ‘What’s that?’ ‘How are you doing that?’ ‘What’s the best way to do that?’ Those are the people who will get a lot out of it. I’m talkative, and I love the interaction. I want you to ask questions and walk away learning something. Anyone who comes to this is going to receive great knowledge and experience.
Q: Give us one word to describe The Main Course.
The Main Course, A Guided Culinary Experience with Executive Chef Andrew Pearce, is sure to be a delicious addition to the Hugo’s Frog Bar and Chop House private dining experience. Want to watch as Chef Pearce prepares fine cuisine while dishing out novelty cooking advice? Join us on Thursday, January 17th for an exclusive evening at Hugo’s.
Tickets are limited. Purchase yours today – RIGHT HERE!