Twenty-five years ago I visited my favorite cousin who had just relocated to Tucson for a new job. A real bon vivant, he was always up on the latest foodie meccas. It was my cousin who introduced me to Café Terra Cotta in Tucson. I instantly became a raving fan and returned every chance I could for this inspiring, unique cuisine. Terra Cotta was such a success that the chef opened a second restaurant in a swanky Scottsdale location…now I had an option in the Phoenix area, a quick non-stop flight from the Bay Area.
The owner of Café Terra Cotta, also the chef, was a woman named Donna Nordin. A classically trained French chef (both the Cordon Bleu and Lenotre in Paris), Donna was one of the pioneers of the Southwest cuisine movement. Her new interpretation of Southwest cooking soon catapulted her to rock-star status. She was nominated for the James Beard Award and appeared on PBS’ television series the Great Chefs of the West. Adoring fans demanded a cookbook and she complied with the esteemed Contemporary Southwest: The Café Terra Cotta Cookbook.
The New York Times and Condé Nast Traveler magazine named Café Terra Cotta “one of America’s 50 best restaurants.” However, it was another magazine in which Donna scored some major kudos. Bon Appetit asked Donna to appear in their Christmas issue---she was told that Julia Child would also be featured in the same edition. In the end, it was Donna’s ethereal chocolate torte that was chosen for the magazine’s coveted yuletide cover.
Now that you have been properly introduced to Donna Nordin, I have great pleasure in announcing that I have persuaded her to come to our home for cooking classes on September 19 and 20 (Saturday and Sunday evening). The menu is still being finalized, however, it will definitely include Café Terra Cotta’s revered signature dish, tortilla soup. Possible contenders for the entrée will be lamb with a cherry-chipotle sauce, or sea bass with pumpkin seed salsa, or perhaps a grilled duck breast with mole sauce a mango salsa. Dessert may be her famous cover-recipe chocolate torte, however, since she is a classically trained Parisian pastry chef, it could be an interesting fusion of France meets the Southwest.
The cost of the cooking class, dinner and wines is $110 per person. Reservations will be taken on a first-come-first-served basis. The final menu will be posted on our website in March, but for more information in the meanwhile contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 760.842.8812.