It had been three weeks since Christopher and I had moved to Rochester, Minnesota...
We had just a few weeks prior celebrated my 28th birthday by enjoying the "La Choix Du Chef" coursed meal at Chez Bojji (In Bojji's House), where we met the Owner and Executive Chef, Youness Bojji.
Youness Bojji was born in Morocco, but grew up a majority of his young life in France and Spain where he developed his love of cooking, and taking historical recipes and giving them a flare of his own.
It wasn't until Youness came to America, and met his wife Amber that his dream of opening his own restaurant would come to fruition. In an age where nothing ever seems like the "right" time, Youness and Amber wanted to teach their children the importance of chasing their own dreams, and the hard work that must be put into those dreams if you want to succeed.
They first opened their doors in 2015, and since then, they've been plating up excellent dishes for all of Rochester, and any who visit.
Walking into Chez Bojji is like walking into the home of a close family friend.
On weeknights you'll find Youness socializing with guests between cooking meals, and on weekends around 7pm, they do a complimentary champagne toast highlighting gratitude. If you're like me, and have any dietary restrictions, Youness will happily accommodate if the meal allows, or recommend something more fitting, but ALWAYS delicious.
Knowing that Chris & I had just arrived to town, Chef Youness Bojji had recommended that I attend his cooking class as a way to meet locals in the area, and learn how to create European inspired dishes, eat great food, enjoy some laughs, and delight in some adult beverages.
So... on March 26th, I headed to Chez Bojji.
When I arrived, the bartop known as "Amber's Pub"(after Youness' wife Amber Bojji), was lined with preparation stations for each student; Cutting boards, knives, and a beautiful array of colorful vegetables.
Chef Bojji was behind the bar ready to serve drinks and serve us some of his personal knowledge in cooking.
He started out by teaching us about knife techniques. Each of us were to cut zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant and be shown the proper and safe way. We were also taught that every great dish is balanced by the rule Sugar, Acid, Fat, and Spice.
The first dish, we started by sauteing handfuls of zuchinni, tomato, onion, and eggplant in a saucepan pan along with some olive oil, garlic, and a splash of red wine. Youness explained that the Sugar came from the red wine, the fat from the olive oil, the acid in the tomatoes, and the garlic, the spice.
We added the concoction to the top of toasted baguette slices and some greenery - the perfect simple recipe for entertaining.
We also enjoyed making a dish made using the same mediterreanean style vegetable mix, with pieces of chopped lobster, served over a gouda hashbrown- The taste was incredible.
The class learned about the constant changing costs of seafood, like lobster, and scallops as well as the importance of quality in the food you source at home, or when you are out to eat.
Next, we were shown a traditional French recipe of Lemon Beurre Blanc over Scallops, followed by another interactive cooking experience where Chef Youness pulled out some mahi mahi, and asked the class to choose one ingredient from the selection for the next course.
I was the first to request the use of Orange Citrus with the Mahi Mahi, interested in seeing what we could make using the "Sugar, Fat, Acid, Spices" rule. Youness showed our entire group that you can turn any leftover fruits and vegetables into an amazing dish if you use your imagination, along with the rule we learned. Our dish ended up this beautiful Citrus Mahi Mahi dish topped with an egg yolk.
Lastly, we made a dessert "pizza", with cooked apples and mangos over naan bread.
We kept adding and adding to make it even more delicious when we topped it with whipped cream, caramel and nutmeg.
Since March, we have frequented Chez Bojji for dinner, drinks, or events.
When you visit Chez Bojji, you're sure to enjoy yourself and make friends along the way.
I highly recommend making a stop at this incredible restaurant if you're ever in Rochester.