When my International Food, Wine and Travel Writers held their annual regional meeting in Irvine, I hopped the train from San Diego for a fun filled day.

Little did I know, our host MJ Hong, owner of The Wine Artist, had cooked up an adventurous afternoon of New Orleans food including hot beignets.  This peeked my interest, because I had recently returned from New Orleans and still savored the hot beignets which are famous in the city.

MJ specializes in hands on culinary workshops and hosts events for businesses with team building in mind. Since I was in attendance with others from my association, I figured this would be a breeze and no egos would get in the way.  I was a bit wrong.

Our small group divided duties as we prepared the jambalaya and shrimp etouffee.  Basic ingredients of celery, green pepper and onion were sautéed and when it was time to add the broth and creole seasoning, that’s where things took a turn. One person told me to quickly stir in the broth, but I assured him I had already done so.  Another person became confused about which seasoning to add, and the energetic team quickly spoke up about the who, what, where and why of the seasoning to use.  This was a crucial decision because the dish could have turned out too plain or too spicy.

Thankfully, at the end of the cooking time, both entrees tasted flavorful and very good considering how many cooks were in the kitchen.  An excellent example of team work.

Now it was time to make the beignets and I paid special attention to the details and carefully watched my peers, so the fried donut-like dough was perfect.  MJ had proofed the dough ahead of time and we went right to work rolling and cutting the dough.

It seemed like a long time until each side was browned evenly in the hot oil, but it was more my anticipation of the crispy treat than the frying pan.

Once the meal was finished cooking, we all sat around the table, poured a glass of wine and served up heaping portions.  I spied a leftover beignet and nearly had to wrestle it away from another travel writer.  While I was able to score it, a sprinkling of powdered sugar on the puffy hot delight made it taste that much better.


Headed back home on the train, I realized what a good venue The Wine Artist offered for corporate and bridal events, birthday parties and many other private bookings.  You’ll be sure to have a fun time and learn some skills too.  Just watch out for those who want your beignet.


The Wine Artist  21064 Bake Parkway Ste 100 Lake Forest, CA   Phone 949.297.3656

www.thewineartist.com  for more details

Disclaimer-I was a guest of The Wine Artist and as always, my opinions are my own.