It’s going to be a party, and you’re all invited. At least that’s what celebrity chef Brian Morris says.
“This is going to be all about fun holiday entertaining and having the chance to have fun with folks,” says Morris, who’s cooked for Derek Jeter, Kellie Pickler, and Keith Urban, among others. “The last thing anyone wants is to be stressed [and] sweating in the kitchen. We’re going to tackle this party with a plan so when it comes time for party time, you’re calm, collected, and actually want to be at your own party.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 6, Morris will lead a live cooking show demonstration at the Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro. The event space and stage will be transformed into a real kitchen, and Morris will teach several never-before-used recipes in front of attendees.
His goal, though, isn’t to be a boring teacher. He wants to help the audience learn (or re-learn) how to have fun while hosting for the holidays.
“This isn’t food school; we’re going to have a blast. I’m not a ‘rules’-based chef. Rules aren’t fun,” he says. “There’s only a few rules I live by and [one is] we gotta turn some music on in the kitchen. So we’re going to have music, a lot of fun, and lots of audience interaction.”
During his live cooking shows, Morris has been known to toss samples to folks sitting in the front row, and even invite guests on stage to assist with preparation. The menu, which will be geared toward the holidays, hasn’t been released yet, although Morris has big plans for it.
“They’ll be great recipes to add [to your repertoire] but they’ll unlock a whole new set of tools that will really be a game changer,” he says. “The recipes will be great on their own — and they’ll be the basis of an incredible holiday get-together — but the recipes let us teach fundamentals that are applicable way beyond the scope of the recipes we’re going to teach.”
Before the live cooking show, guests will have the opportunity to get ahead of holiday shopping thanks to a holiday market and expo featuring local vendors and small businesses. Guests can sample local beer, beverages, and food from nearby eateries, and cross off needed gifts for family and friends.
Morris, who’s based in Nashville, is currently the director of operations for Hattie B’s, a restaurant chain known for its hot Nashville chicken. The son of musicians, he initially planned to pursue a career in music, but he had worked in kitchens since high school to make money. By the time he turned college-age, he began to develop a more serious interest in food.
Morris attended the French Culinary Institute in New York, and then worked as a personal chef for celebrities. He later got a job with Viking Range Corp., and that’s where he began doing cooking shows in front of live audiences — and fell in love with it. From 2008 to 2014, he worked for Relish magazine, and holding cooking shows was an integral part of his job there. At one time, he was doing about 50 shows a year.
Along the way, he said, he learned how important it is to make cooking fun.
“This is not driven by fancy ingredients, fancy tools, or impossible techniques,” Morris says. “It’s everyday, approachable stuff that’s damn good, and we’re going to have maximum fun doing it. It speaks to who I am as a cook.”
Tickets for Taste of the Gate City are now on sale and can be purchased at tasteofthegatecity.com. Two ticket options are available: General Admission ($20) and VIP ($75). The limited number of VIP tickets gives guests the opportunity to meet Morris, priority seating during the show, early admission to the holiday market, and an expanded sampling of food and beverages.
Have small kids, or worried it would bore your significant other? Morris wants to nip that in the bud.
“It’s a great date night; it’s a great family night,” he says. “There’s going to be a lot of stuff here for everybody.”
Winston-Salem Journal Food Editor Michael Hastings contributed to this article.