Victoria Gardens Farmer’s Market and Chef Demonstration

By Ashley Bennett

Posted April 24, 2012 in Eats
No one can deny that when it comes time to cook, there’s an enticing option lying somewhere between going out to eat or heating up a quick frozen meal of instant gratification, neither of which can be considered fresh or healthy. So when you find out that there’s a farmer’s market nearby, there lies the incentive you need to take your life and health into your own hands. But therein lies the other problem: laziness. The daunting process of creating a meal that takes longer to cook than it does to eat is nothing short of ridiculous when you’ve spent a long day working, which is why this sort of chef demonstration is exactly what you need.

Malibu Olive Co. Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sweet Lou's Herbs and Spices "Lemon Pepper" (Photo by Ashley Bennett)

As I gave good ol’ Victoria Gardens a visit (an outdoor mall that far exceeds the price I’m often willing to pay for clothing and other cool goodies) I was surprised to find a small but humble Farmer’s Market down the main street of the lot. Here you meet neighborhood business men and women who are helping out the economy by keeping their business right here in SoCal. From freshly made extra virgin olive oil to some potent spices and even the uniqu3e and juicy fruits (cherimoya, anyone?) there’s plenty of unique goods here to help get you off your lazy streak.

Chef Neil Smith, local culinary pro over at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar literally right down the street, was in charge of the demonstration of the Shrimp Scampi (a dish that is available on Fleming’s menu, by the way). It’s not just your ordinary Shrimp recipe though. It instantly became a product of local effort when he shared that he was using goods a few of the booths featured at the market that day, such as the Malibu Olive Company, Sweet Lou Spices and a local fruits vendor.

With an assortment of ingredients at hand and a small electric stove (open fire isn’t permitted at the weekly market), Chef Neil set to work. In only moments he had a sauce containing a few citrus ingredients mixed with white wine, extra virgin olive oil, cream and butter ready. Barely after he began explaining the recipe, the audience members who began to gather started taking a copy of the recipe card for their personal use. Why not? So far so good, it’s nice and simple.

Shrimp Scampi (Photo by Ashley Bennett)

For those not familiar with shrimp preparation, requesting your local butcher to cut out the vein and open up the shrimp in a butterfly fashion is the best way to start. After rolling the prepared shrimp in a flour mixture and placing it in the pan, the audience grew larger as both the sizzling sound and pleasing smell of the shrimp peaked many shoppers’ interest. Chef Neil also shared tips about cooking seafood, with the right timing and temperatures, to avoid overcooking which would result in a tougher, less tender piece of shrimp. For a short time he added some veggies sliced by a Mandolin from Williams and Sonoma. In a matter of minutes the dish was completed, tender pink shrimp surrounding a delightfully colored a mound of sliced green and yellow squash. Yes, it tasted as good as it looks.

Cooking the single dish took maybe fifteen minutes to complete from start to finish, meaning that with the fresh and quality ingredients available in Rancho and the know-how shared directly from a Chef who knows the trade, this is a doable recipe to try at home. With simple tips here and there, it was a successful way to entice those interested in learning a quick recipe without massive preparation as well as send business towards the local booths. Keep your eyes peeled for another one of these soon.

Victoria Gardens Farmer’s Market, 12505 N. Mainstreet, Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 463-2830;


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