Cooking With Chef Rodney at Georgetown's Bleubird Studio & Suites
Written by Kathy Witt
Rod’s restaurant is tucked in a historic 1840 home, each individual dining room like a gallery with local art enhancing the rich, dark color palette of the walls and a vintage fireplace anchoring uncrowded, linen-draped tables.
“That means conversation stays at the table,” says Rod.
A cozy bar enhances the overall ambience of an exceptional dining experience, and a large patio addition makes an irresistible warm-weather gathering space for outdoor dining and music.
His cooking class, held in the large and airy demonstration kitchen and lounge space at Bleubird Studio, is as relaxed and unhurried as a Sunday afternoon.
Filled with natural light from the windows lining two walls, each one framing the trees and greenery of the surrounding landscape, the kitchen is set with white linen-covered tables topped by small vases of colorful flowers. The room reflects the calming aesthetic found throughout the house, which feels more sanctuary than studio.
Both environments achieve the chef’s goal.
At a recent cooking class, Chef Rod prepared crab cakes served with a luscious key lime mustard sauce. While those in attendance nibbled on an appetizer of crab bruschetta, the chef whipped up his secret sauce—and letting it slip that the secret ingredient was onion juice.
Jones is a self-taught chef who, from a very young age, began working his way up the ranks in restaurant kitchens, starting with the legendary Coach House. He learned the culinary ropes from none other than the restaurant’s owner, Stanley Demos, considered the “grandfather of gourmet fine dining in Lexington.” At that time, Rod worked both in the kitchen and as a musician and, while he still plays, it was cooking he fell in love with and pursued. (In fact, Rod plans to do a little guitar strumming on the patio at Rodney’s on Broadway.)
Through the decades, the chef has opened his own dining establishments and has worked in others’ restaurants, honing his culinary prowess as he created, prepared and perfected recipes for his Caribbean fusion eatery as well as an upscale deli, Italian fine dining restaurant, contemporary grill—even the University of Kentucky faculty club.
At Rodney’s on Broadway, the food focus is on prime beef and fresh seafood and the dishes presented are all Rod’s recipes. Lamb is always on the menu as is the shrimp and scallops entrée—although for some long-time customers, the menu doesn’t figure into their decision.
“They’ve never even seen the menu,” says Rod. “They’ll tell their server, ‘just give me what he’s doing.’”
An evening of gastronomy at this downtown gem might begin with a seahorse appetizer, fresh diver scallops wrapped in prosciutto and served on a bed of crispy spinach with a hollandaise sauce drizzle, move onto a classic wedge salad with Chef Rod’s own creamy smoked tomato dressing and conclude with the melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon with a panko-crusted baked potato or grits du jour.
The cooking classes offer a taste of the magic this maestro of gourmet cookery creates in the kitchen—and a beautifully plated and thoroughly delicious one at that.
The classes are more demonstration than hands-on cooking lesson, with “students” enjoying wine as they watch the chef in action, chatting with their tablemates and enjoying what is truly a relaxing and convivial setting created by Bleubird Studio owner Jane Hale and Chef Rod’s approachable teaching style.
Jane brings an artist’s eye and yogi’s soul to the design motif of the studio and from the moment the front door swings open and guests are ushered within, the atmosphere feels welcoming and uplifting. An art gallery steps from the front door and filled with gorgeous local artworks is an alluring draw and a fitness studio at the top of the staircase feels ready for mats and meditative moments.
Further up the steps are two inviting guestrooms, each with en suite bath, and gleaming shared kitchen. On the third floor, the Crow’s Nest meeting space is surrounded on all sides by windows and overlooks sweeps of farmland, rooftops and gardens.
Back in the demonstration kitchen, a sweet treat is brought out following the main course and time is given for any questions participants may have. In the two pleasant hours that have passed from arrival to the last sip of wine, it has been an afternoon filled with a little learning, a lot of laughter and one exquisite repast.
Cooking with Chef Rodney classes take place once a month at Bleubird Studio, typically at 2 p.m. on the second Sunday of the month. The cooking class is $85 per person and includes a glass of Prosecco. For more information, contact Rodney’s on Broadway at 502-868-7637 or visit Bleubird Studio and click “Events.”
Chef Rod’s Crab Bruschetta
Makes 2 to 6 crab cakes, depending on size.
Key Lime Mustard Sauce
2 C mayo
1/4 C Dijon
1 white onion
1 tsp white pepper
Add all ingredients and mix until blended. Set aside.
1 C Maryland blue lump crab meat
1 C panko
1 TBSP fresh tarragon
1 TBSP Chef Rodney’s Cape Cod seasoning (or Old Bay seasoning)
Juice of 1 lime
1 TBSP Dijon
Salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix lightly. Form into crab cakes. Heat oil in a frying pan. Sautee crab cakes on each side until golden brown and crispy.
Plate each crab cake on a bed of mixed greens. Garnish with carrot matchsticks, hardboiled egg halves and cherry tomatoes. Top with Key Lime Mustard Sauce and a sprinkle of fresh parsley and serve.
Author: Kathy Witt
Kathryn Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer, syndicated columnist and author of several books, including Secret Cincinnati, The Secret of the Belles and Atlanta Georgia: A Photographic Portrait. A member of SATW, Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Books & Illustrators, she lives in northern Kentucky.