Award-winning cookbook author chef Becky Selengut flew across the pond from Seattle, Washington, to spend a week at Hilton Guam Resort & Spa's Fisherman's Cove as chef in residence, serving up four specialty dishes from her 2011 cookbook, "Good Fish," and leading a cooking class on Friday featuring her Celery Root Tart with Caramelized Leeks and Caviar.
After leaving the restaurant world, Selengut became a cooking teacher and prolific food writer, authoring five books on cooking and food, teaching private cooking classes, as well as teaching cooking classes at The Pantry, a Seattle cooking school. She also let slip that she teaches food styling and according to her website, even co-hosts a comedy podcast.
Just two spots were left in Selengut's cooking demonstration as of Monday. The class will take place at 4 p.m. on Friday and costs $50 per person, not including a 10 percent service charge.
If you can't make it to class, though, don't fear: The Celery Root Tart is on the menu all week, and it's a steal at just $12.
If you've never heard of celery root, it's the buttery, flavorful cousin of celery, according to Selengut, and even has subtle tropical notes.
"We're going to make a beautiful butter tart crust ... then caramelize the celery root and then char some leeks on top, and then finish it with some parmesan-reggiano cheese and a little bit of the tobiko caviar on top," Selengut said. "It's really elegant."
Is your mouth watering yet?
Selengut said she'll also help her students understand why chefs love caviar so much.
"The flavor pop and the brininess and the texture, like all of that and how it can add to something you wouldn't normally think you could put it on," Selengut said. "It's going to have so many great balancing notes."
Teaching and learning
These kinds of teaching moments are what Selengut loves about being an educator, she said.
"I really love the 'Aha!' moments that I get when I learn about a new ingredient or a new culture's food," she said. "I wanted to be able to get other people excited about those same things."
Selengut said she's looking forward to trying CHamoru cuisine for the first time, as well.
"I'm kind of excited to ... see if that can inspire me in my cuisine and bring back a little bit of Guam to Seattle," she said.
What's on the menu?
Selengut's three other featured dishes also can't be missed, and will be on the menu through Saturday, alongside the Celery Root Tart.
Entrees include Coffee and Spice Rubbed Salmon Tacos for $27, which Selengut said "bring a little bit of Seattle to Guam;" Dungeness Crab Mac and Cheese for $22, Selengut's personal favorite; and Agedashi Salmon with Asparagus, a generous portion of rich, flaky salmon topped with aged tuna and caviar, bathed in a warm, earthy broth infused with bonito, kelp and shiitake mushrooms.
Selengut, if you haven't realized already, loves fish. And as an educator, she's made it her mission to educate her students and readers on the importance of fishing and eating sustainably.
"I love fish so much. I grew up fishing, and I don't want to be part of the problem," she said. "I feel a responsibility to help people make healthier choices, not just for ... their own bodies but also for the environment."
Selengut notes that most people want to eat just three kinds of seafood: salmon, Southeast Asian shrimp and tuna.
Healthy and sustainable
"There are hundreds and hundreds of beautiful fish in the ocean and when we just pick three fish to eat, we're putting too much demand on those species," she said. Plus, "it's not as interesting and not as healthy ... for people."
In "Good Fish," Selengut includes sustainably sourced salmon, tuna and shrimp in her recipes, but also features 20 other species of fish, encouraging readers to get out of their seafood rut.
"You'll also see things you might not have ever heard of," she said.
With much of the island's fish shipped in, Selengut recommended supporting local fishermen as much as possible. But when imported fish is your only option, try to eat domestic fish and ask questions about where your seafood comes from.
Selengut also said shellfish and small silvery fish, such as sardines, are good options.
Make sure you catch Selengut before she's gone. And for those yearning for even more Seattle-inspired seafood dishes, check out her award-winning cookbook, "Good Fish."