Teachable Menus

Surf House holds pop-up cooking classes

As the food truck revolution remains strong, many culinary experts are looking for ways to bring some enthusiasm back to the restaurant dining experience.

While there is no comparison to a nice, quiet dinner at a beautiful venue, there is something to be said for the spontaneity and excitement that a pop-up restaurant offers. Experienced at both types of dining, Surf House in Carolina Beach held several popular pop-ups in 2019 and plans to host more in 2020. “

Funny enough, this idea came from a close friend of ours buying a private cooking class with chef Craig Love as a birthday gift,” says general manager ANNALEE JOHNSTON. “The private class was a success, and we decided it would be a great option for the community to learn, relax, and enjoy a great meal.

At the pop-ups, the doors open at 6 p.m. for a sparkling toast, allowing guests to get comfortable.

“We begin the event at 6:30 p.m. by talking about sustainable seafood and availability around our coast,” Johnston says. “We dive into the demonstration pretty quickly and finish dessert around 8:30 p.m.”

Course number one begins upon guests’ arrival and includes passed appetizers with sparkling wine; course number two features a demonstrated entrée selection with paired wine, and course number three features a demonstrated dessert selection.

“Each month will focus on a different menu,” Johnston says. “The idea is that guests will come once a month to learn the new technique and put it into practice.

January’s menu was scamp grouper (also knowns as brown grouper) confit with Covington sweet potato, fennel, pecans, and a lemon sabayon.”

February’s menu consisted of pickled shrimp salad – pickled shrimp over greens with seasonal root vegetables – and Cioppino, a classic seafood stew featuring shrimp, clams, and mussels.

The cost is $60 per person, and while it includes two wine tastings, a full bar is available throughout the dinner as well for those wishing to purchase additional drinks.

“We are going to open a few dates in early March and have not yet determined how long into spring we will continue the cooking classes as volume increases,” Johnston says. “We absolutely plan to continue these events in the early fall of next year. We are excited about all of them! It’s nice to see familiar faces at each event.”

Upcoming dates are posted at surfhousenc.com/events.

Those who have been to Surf House, at 604 North Lake Park Boulevard, before will remember its distinctive décor. The ambiance, Johnston says, will be enhanced by the opportunity to interact with Love.

“The atmosphere is a nice balance of casual and upscale, similar to our normal dining room,” Johnston notes. “We want to encourage guests to come right after work, for a date night, or with a group of friends to learn a new skill while being in a relaxed environment. We turn our tables into a classroom-style horseshoe set up with community-style seating facing the chef ’s demonstration table. We want our guests to feel comfortable to engage with each other and freely ask questions. In the future, we might include some cocktail demonstrations as well.”

Surf House prides itself on its dedication to relationships with small, local farms and its sourcing of sustainable, regional seafood. The restaurant management hopes that this commitment, paired with its desire to create memorable dining experiences for guests, will rekindle enthusiasm for in-restaurant dining and uphold the highest standards of quality in the restaurant business of coastal North Carolina.


To view more of photographer Logan Burke’s work, go to LoganBurkePhoto.com

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Categories: Taste