When you grow up in an Italian family like I did, having relatives teach you a thing or two about cooking is a given. There’s no avoiding it when food takes precedence. I learned the secrets to a great red sauce after years of watching my dad make it every week for pasta Sundays. Family is a trusted source, after all. But when you’re far from home, there’s great comfort in knowing that someone close by can offer that same cooking guidance on an elevated level. That someone is chef Lenore Nolan-Ryan.
Surely she knows her way around a kitchen and wants others to as well. That’s why she decided to open Lenore Nolan-Ryan World Class Catering and Cooking School on the Galt Mile in May.
The Miami Beach native began her culinary career with one simple approach: she would focus on brunch. While living in Indianapolis at 19 years old, Nolan-Ryan decided the city could use another spot for the staple meal and asked the owner of a restaurant if she could rent out the space to serve it. Her brunch turned into a catering company, which eventually led her to the opening of several restaurants and traveling the world. She now calls Fort Lauderdale home.
I decided to give her cooking class a try and walked out with a handful of tips, recipes and memories.
Grab a loved one or group of friends and choose from a wide variety of themed classes led by Nolan-Ryan and her talented team. “I am passionate about life and people,” Nolan-Ryan says. “Cooking is my avenue of communicating. Food is a way of learning about others.”
Her passion is apparent as she shares tidbits on how to cut the perfect slice of goat cheese without having it crumble (and the best tool to use for the task). Her eyes light up as she sprinkles pecans—the final touch—on a gorgeous salad that will be served as the first course during a Tuesday night session. The second course is a pappardelle pasta dish served with salmon, and for dessert—a blackberry torte.
She reflects back on the first time she met Julia Child, who taught her that “there are no mistakes in cooking, just adjustments.” For a class of 12 participants, she is sure to toss in a bit of wisdom.
Fear not if you’re a rookie in the kitchen, Nolan-Ryan creates a comfortable atmosphere, allowing guests to feel confident while crafting a multi-course spread to be enjoyed afterward.
This month, Lenore’s will offer a hands-on “Inspiration Julia” class on Dec. 6, featuring French onion soup, beef bourguignon, Chicken Coq au vin and Tarte Tatin. For those who want to enjoy Nolan-Ryan’s culinary talents without having to cook for themselves, stop by for one of her themed events, including Bubbles and Brunch (Sundays), an Elegant Holiday Entertaining Buffet (Dec. 11) and more.
“I feel that now I am in a place that I can do everything I love in one location,” she says. “My catering clients are now having parties at my place and my calendar of culinary events, Lenore DuJour, allows me the freedom to enjoy all of those things—catering, cooking classes, pop-up restaurant, wine and tapas tastings—all of my passions, differently every day.”