Underground Dinner with Chef Jessica Ray

I was fortunate enough to meet Chef Jess over a year ago when she was teaching classes at Hal’s Kitchen. I liked her right away – she is very approachable and structures her classes to be fun not stuffy or difficult even if you are a novice. After going out on her own, Jess is now a private chef. She invited me to an underground dinner and I couldn’t wait to see what she had in store for us.

As with most underground dinners, the location is kept secret until the day before. Dacor, a kitchen decor showroom was a beautiful spot for the meal. Upon entering there was a beautiful display of Kaffir Lime Mojitos and Andouille Sausage in Blankets waiting for us.

And check out this beautiful setting? What a gorgeous table for our 5-course meal. Not only did we have wine with dinner, but we had wine pairings from Certified Sommelier and Wine Consultant, Krista Mason. She picked some very interesting pairings to go with the courses.

Paella cakes with Shrimp, Chorizo and Manchego

Shrimp, Chorizo and Manchego? All things I love and they go so well together!

Grilled Watermelon Salad

I wouldn’t think of grilling watermelon but this was a delicious way to serve it up and the salty feta complimented it perfectly. Over the course of the meal, Jess shared with us that she grows many herbs and vegetables in her yard which she often incorporates into her private dinner parties. For this course, Krista chose a Rose to pair with dish.

Homemade Chips with Blue Cheese Sauce

I don’t eat potato chips often, so when I do ever have them, it is a treat. And this course was even more indulgent with the blue cheese sauce. What was surprising was the wine pairing. Krista shared with us, she finds bubbly goes well with fried foods and after trying it, wouldn’t disagree.

Wine Braised Beef Shortribs with Mushroom Ragout, Polenta and Pea Leaves

Wow! No knife necessary for these short ribs, it just melts in your mouth. And the polenta and pea leaves all go together so well. Love that the ingredients Jess chooses work well together in every course. Nothing overpowers anything else on the plate.

Death by Chocolate Mousse

After such a filling meal, who would have room for a rich dessert? Creamy yet light, this was the perfect finish to our meal. Paired with a not overly sweet dessert wine.

What a fabulous meal! Want to hire Jess to dazzle your next dinner party or for a private cooking classes? She also does catering and personal chef services. Visit her site: PersonalChefJess.com

Chef Jessica Ray and Sommelier, Krista Mason

Malika is the author of several books including Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! and the founder of Roamilicious. She is also a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant. Follow us @Roamilicious on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for the content not shared on the blog. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter (subscribe box below) and never miss a contest, giveaway or the latest must visit restaurant!