Combine grilled food made with local ingredients, a live chef demonstration and good company and you are sure to have a recipe for success. Literally. That is what Chef JJ Boston is doing at his Downtown location Chef JJ’s Downtown.
Located one block east of Lucas Oil Stadium, Chef JJ’s Downtown is an expansive space with over 8,000 square feet of state of the art, customizable rooms that include a lofted space with a rooftop garden, an atrium featuring a wall that completely opens up to an outdoor patio and the gallery room with a live demo kitchen. Anyone can book these spaces – from corporations hosting team building events (think Iron Chef-style competitions) to couples hosting rehearsal dinners.
But perhaps what Chef JJ’s Downtown is most known for is their chef-led grilling classes featuring The Big Green Egg. The Big Green Egg is a highly versatile charcoal grill that makes very high and very low temperatures easy to maintain. It doesn’t matter it you are making seared steaks or crispy pizzas, this grill can do it all – and Eggheads will be happy to tell you so.
Regulars know to watch the Chef JJ website for updates since it is common for these classes to have a waitlist of up to five months. After being offered a seat in Chef JJ’s Greek Class, I can see why. From customer service to taste to food education, Chef JJ’s offers the complete foodie experience. Upon our arrival there was a beer flight featuring three different craft brew samples (guests also have the option to order additional beer or wine). Also at our seats, we had a “cheat sheet” offering fun facts about Greek food. On the backside of the paper, we could write notes about the food being cooked in front of us.
Class sizes are kept small so there is a lot of interaction with the chef and his team as they are demonstrating. The three large flat screens show you up close views of the food on the demonstration table and on the grills. Over the course of two hours, Chef JJ prepared four Greek courses for us (yes, four courses. Come hungry!). Our first plate was a gyro with lamb from Viking Farms, homemade tzatziki sauce and pita bread made on the grill. The second course, Spanakopita Pot Pie, had a rich filling of spinach, cheese and goat meat all enfolded by a crispy phyllo dough. The third dish was perhaps the most unique – Pastitsio with Greek salad. This pasta dish was made with a combination of meat sauce and white sauce (béchamel), plus a number of other ingredients including ground beef, goat, garlic, tomatoes and cinnamon.
The real star of the night for me was, naturally, dessert. Chef JJ served Golaktobouriko – a traditional Greek custard made with egg yolk, sugar, butter and simple syrup amid more than 30 layers of phyllo dough dipped in butter. Lots and lots of butter. As full and satisfied as I was, it would have been criminal to pass up a serving of this.
If you are lucky enough to have your own Big Green Egg at home, Chef JJ’s Downtown is mecca: eat four courses of made-from-scratch, chef-driven food, learn techniques from the pros and even buy grill accessories. But you do not need to be an Egghead to enjoy the classes. The food is delicious and abundant, the staff are friendly and personable and Chef JJ makes the entire experience fun and interactive. From steak and seafood to pizza and beer pairing dinners, Chef Boston takes guests on a grilling adventure with, of course, plenty of flavorful bites in between.