Joy of food begins with your eyes

Published 2:35 pm Friday, July 2, 2010

“We eat with our eyes,” said Chef Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club, as he prepared his colorful and fresh Hot and Hot Tomato Salad for the crowd that gathered for his demo at Helena Market Days.

“The joy and fun of cooking is handling and tasting and being in the moment with your ingredients,” he said.

To create the signature dishes that exemplify his simple philosophy that the best food is fresh food grown locally and prepared so that the pure and natural flavor is the highlight for your taste buds, Hastings purchases from a series of select area vendors.

The varieties of heirloom tomatoes used were Red Flame, Nebraska Wedding, Purple Cherokee, Black Cherry and Golden Delight on this day.

Hastings combines these with seasoned pink-eyed peas and marinated corn cut from the cob and fried okra for a stacked salad topped with Applewood smoked bacon.

The mound is drizzled with chive dressing and fresh basil chiffonade.

Hastings took time to chat with the crowd about olive oils and let them taste the combination of Toscano Extra Virgin Oil and Arrezio Oliva Oil he prefers.

More than 150 market-goers enjoyed sampling this tasty dish.

The recipe was distributed to the crowd and is in the new Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook, which Hastings autographed on site for purchasers.

The Hot and Hot website touts it as “Far more than a recipe book, the pages offer a glimpse of the authors home and work life on a month–by–month basis and how they gather at the table with family and friends to celebrate the passing seasons.”

Karen Arn purchased a copy as a special thank-you for Darlene Webb, who just the past week had jumped fully clothed into a pool to rescue Karen’s young son who had bobbed too far into the deep end.

Sharri and Kevin Logsdon from Riverchase were in attendance as they recently celebrated their 25th anniversary at Hot and Hot and were seated at the Chef’s Counter.

In the month of July, come early for the best selections at Helena Market Days and enjoy the chef demos at 9 a.m.

In the month of July, come early for the best selections at Helena Market Days and enjoy the chef demos at 9:00 a.m. You can see Chef Angela Schmidt prepare a refreshing watermelon panzanella salad on July 10, Chef Tom Bagby of the Bottletree Café on July 17, Chef Austin Davis of Bright Star Restaurant on July 24 and Chef Haller Magee of Satterfields Restaurant on July 31. Wine tasting by The Pleasure is All Wine will follow the chef demos on July 10 and 31.