Sitting Down to Dinner with Chef Jeff Osaka

Chef Jeff Osaka prepares a meal demonstration in front of cooking class students at Café Options.

Chef Jeff Osaka prepares a meal demonstration in front of cooking class students at Café Options.

Fielding questions about food, cooking and his life in the culinary world, all while keeping an eye on delicious food warming on the stove, Chef Jeff Osaka, owner-chef of twelve restaurant, showed how comfortable and versatile he is in the kitchen.

Chef Jeff, donning dark denim jeans, a pair of Chuck Taylors and a black apron with white pinstripes, led Work Options for Women’s October Cooking Class in the kitchen at Café Options last week. Nearly every month, WOW offers a cooking class to give participants the chance to learn from some of Denver’s finest chefs during a weeknight.

This month, Chef Jeff prepared a meal before a group of nine students, and once it was completed, they sat down to a family-style dinner. Helping Chef Jeff in the kitchen as sous chef was Café Options worker and Work Options for Women graduate Karisha.

One lesson Chef Jeff imparted to his students was the importance of timing. When it comes to preparing food, different aspects of a meal are prepared at different times, sometimes in an order that seems like it goes against logic. For his meal last week, Chef Jeff actually started by preparing dessert first. The logic behind this, however, was that his vanilla bean panna cotta needed time to settle and cool in the refrigerator. It would do this while the rest of the meal was prepared, and it would be ready to be served by the time the students finished eating dinner.

Chef Jeff Osaka fillets a snapper.

Chef Jeff Osaka fillets a snapper.

Butternut squash highlighted a soup as well as a purée Chef Jeff created to accompany his dinner’s two proteins: a steak cut and a snapper fish, which he showed the students how to fillet. Karisha also helped greatly with the salad — made with Brussels sprouts she cut using a mandoline, pecorino cheese (made locally), cashews with a green chili dusting and a lemon vinaigrette Chef Jeff concocted.

Throughout the meal’s preparation, Chef Jeff engaged with the students. They wanted to know how he cultivated his passion for food, how he got his start in the culinary industry, how he found himself in Denver if he grew up in Los Angeles.

And Chef Jeff told them about his restaurant, whose menu changes every single month; how his staffers have the chance to provide input during menu creation (but he has the final say, of course); and how he has only ever repeated one menu item in nearly five years of operation. Twelve celebrates its five-year anniversary next month.

October’s cooking class proved informative and delicious for all in attendance.

Want to know when Work Options for Women will hold its next cooking class? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @WOWDenver.