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Love's offers fine-dining cooking classes
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Love's chef in action during a recent cooking class. - photo by Jessica Holhaus

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Live footage of the cooking class at Love's.

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Love’s has been a seafood restaurant staple since 1949. But this year, Love’s has introduced something different. Its new "Cuisine University" offers upscale cooking classes, created as a concept of fine dining while learning how to make the dishes.

"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our passion for the culinary arts. Make yourself at home," is owners Fulton and Donna Love’s themed inscription on the bottom of the menu.

Will Collins is one of the chefs who heads both the restaurant and the classes. He said Monday, Oct. 22, was their fourth class. The classes are held every third Monday and each holds a different theme. This particular focus was "the Low country."

"This menu is sort of like our foundation – this is what we grew up with – it’s part of our heritage," Collins said to his audience.

The savory menu – concocted from ingredients found in your average grocery store – offered a variety of flavors and textures throughout the five-course feast. The meal started with caramelized Vidalia onions and prosciutto ham folded into a savory cheese dip on a toasted pita and moved on to she crab soup accented with sherry and fresh thyme, followed by an apple, elbow macaroni and ambrosia salad. The main course was Georgia white shrimp stewed in spicy Andouille gravy over Stone Ground grits with fresh collards, and a cinnamon shocked Georgia peach for dessert.

As Collins and his partner Dustin Hambrick went through each course, the food was brought out to the audience while the chefs took turns demonstrated the cooking techniques behind it.

Collins and Hambrick each threw out tips and suggestions, and gave explanations on how to use the techniques in other dishes. The interactive meal also had a variety of additional suggestions and questions from the audience.

"Recipes are guidelines – they aren’t rules – and that’s the good thing about cooking," Collins said.

Next month is "A Thanksgiving to Remember," but Collins said just about filled up. Following that, Dec. 3 will be "Central Italian," with Italian takes on different seafoods. Collins said a schedule for 2008 classes will be released soon.

"Doing the ‘Cuisine University’ allows Mr. Fulton to keep us here while allowing us to do more high-end cooking," explained Collins. "We get to explore some different kinds of foods and do something different under Mr. Fulton’s name."

For more information on upcoming classes or to make a reservation, call Collins at 864-787-9793.

Check out the recipe used during the class for the Georgia white shrimp entrée:

Shrimp and Grits (serves 4)

2 lbs Wild Georgia White shrimp

1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies

1 stick unsalted butter

1 red bell pepper, julienne (sliced in thin strips)

1 green bell pepper, julienne

2 links Andouille sausage, sliced ¼ inch thick

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp Old Bay

1 tbsp Kosher salt

3 dashes of your favorite hot sauce

2 pints heavy cream

2 cobs Silver Queen corn

2 cups instant (or homemade) grits

1 chicken bouillon cube

2 oz Canola oil

Shave raw corn off cob and place in a sauté pan with oil. Once corn is fried, remove and hold. Place sliced sausage in large skillet, add all seasonings. Cook on medium heat until all the fats are rendered. Add peppers to sausage and cook five more minutes. Add Rotel and cook an addition 10 minutes. Pour in heavy cream and simmer for three minutes. Add shrimp and cook until the desired consistency is met. Ladle shrimp gravy over grits and serve.

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