Chef Matt Finarelli actually started out his career as the Webmaster and Online Marketing Specialist for World Wildlife Fund (WWF), not as a chef. But the passion of cooking was always in him, and it led him to teach a small class on Northern Italian cooking for Fairfax County. The teaching of cooking was so much fun for him, he knew he had to make a career out of this. So he started attending culinary school at night at Stratford University in Falls Church, VA. When school was complete, he took the plunge to become a full-time chef, starting over at the bottom and working his way up in local kitchens, including Café Tirolo in Ballston, Restaurant Vero in Arlington and Rustico Restaurant in Alexandria.

It was when he began working at Open Kitchen in Falls Church as their original Sous Chef and Kitchen Manager that he started teaching cooking classes once again in their classroom. He loved being back in front of classes, so he changed careers again and became a full-time independent culinary instructor. He is a very popular instructor in the DC area teaching private classes in people’s homes and at local culinary venues. Having taught over 3,000 students in the area, he recently published his first cookbook, “Beyond the Red Sauce: Classic Italian Cooking Without Tomatoes,” hoping to share some of his favorite recipes with his students – even when they can’t be in his classes.

Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast Inn Cooking Class Weekend Menu for February 21-22, 2020

Friday Evening Hors d’oeuvres with Wines from Three Fox Vineyards:

  • Tomato, Mozzarella, and Anchovy Tartlets
  • Shrimp Skewers with Tomato and Rosemary
  • Celery Root Fritters with Fresh Basil Aioli
  • Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter and Ricotta Salata

Saturday Evening Dinner Menu – Theme is Cuisine of Venice

  • First Course: Borlotti Bean Soup with Sautéed Escarole – Borlotti Beans (also known as “Cranberry Beans” in the US) are a major source of vegetable protein in northern Italy. This rich, warming soup is a common staple in the winter months of Venice, and is topped with a quick sauté of the hardy lettuce, escarole to balance out the dish perfectly.
  • Second Course: Saffron Risotto with Shrimp and Artichoke – Northern Italy is famous for its risottos – a personal specialty of mine. In this risotto, we take the classic combination of risotto and saffron, and add in some lovely shrimp and marinated artichokes to make a special risotto that could be a meal on its own. But I’ll also teach you how to make risotto without having to stand over the pot and stir constantly! Just three stirs, and your risotto is done!
  • Third Course: Osso Bucco – This braise of shanks is usually done with veal, but I use beef for mine instead. It’s a wonderful way to learn how to make a braised winter main dish, and is something you can use for special occasions to wow your guests!
  • Fourth Course: Tiramisu – My signature dessert which has the special addition of Strega to give it the perfect flavor. If you think you don’t like tiramisu, it’s only because you’ve never had mine! I’ll be sure to win you over with this one.

Our featured winery is Three Fox Vineyards in Delaplane, VA. A representative from the winery will be with us on Friday night to do a wine tasting paired with Chef Matt’s hors d’oeuvres. We will then drink their wines with our dinner on Saturday night.
Three Fox Vineyards logo

Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast Inn Cooking Class Weekend Menu for March 13-14, 2020

Friday Evening Hors d’oeuvres with Wines from 50 West Vineyards:

  • Crab Salad in a Crisp Phyllo Cup
  • Springtime Vegetable Frittata
  • Chilled Spring Pea Soup Shooters
  • Fried Green Tomato Sliders with Fresh Creole Aioli

Saturday Evening Dinner Menu – Theme is Welcoming Spring

  • First Course: Green Peas and Spring Greens Salad with Cacio e Pepe Dressing – This salad is one of my favorite bright green spring salads, with a rich and spiced dressing with parmesan and fresh black pepper that is just fabulous for this time of year.
  • Second Course: Quinoa and Spring Vegetable Pilaf – Learning how to work quinoa into your diet is a revelation! It can replace rice as a go-to side starch, and is a source of clean, healthful vegetable protein! In this one, I teach one simple technique for making quinoa, and combine it with fresh spring vegetables to make a side that is delicious, healthful, and beautiful!
  • Third Course: Herb-Crusted Lamb Rack – So many people are wary of working with and roasting lamb. This fool-proof method is not only simple, but also uses the essential flavor combinations with lamb (dijon mustard, rosemary, and mint) to make a lamb rack that can’t be beat!
  • Dessert Course: Bananas Foster – An exciting flambe of bananas, rum, and brown sugar! Learn how to amaze your guests with this impressive dessert, served hot and finished with cold vanilla ice cream.

Our featured winery is 50 West Vineyards in Middleburg, VA.  A representative from the winery will be with us on Friday night to do a wine tasting paired with Chef Matt’s hors d’oeuvres.  We will then drink their wines with our dinner on Saturday night.
50 West Vineyards logo