Keeping its doors open for an after-hours event, the Weehawken Library featured Lorraine Wuillamey, owner of Lorraine’s Table, in a summer cooking demonstration and tasting session on July 23 for a crowd of about 25 attendees in the multi-purpose room, one of a series of “Escape the Ordinary” events provided by the library to garner community engagement in new activities.
Wuillamey shared tips and tricks as she prepared summer starter rolls from in-season ingredients. The one common element for all of the featured appetizers – Asian-style rice paper wrappers. With a little know-how, the chef demonstrated the nuances of manipulating the clear, plastic-like sheets that acted as the containers for all of the fillings. She shared her freshly-made dipping sauces, and a take-home recipe for one of the rolls.
“I want to bring variety that they can’t get from ordering out.” – LORRAINE WUILLAMEY
“For this menu, I want people to have fun and try different things,” said Wuillamey.
Her husband, Patrick O’Keeffe, a native of Jersey City, and his goddaughter Michelle assisted in setting up the demonstration table, trays, and along with library staff, serving attendees.
“She got me to try different things – even sushi,” said O’Keeffe. The couple has been together for 14 years.
The chef, a native of Weehawken, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. and received the Shifflin Award for Culinary Excellence. After graduation, she worked in New York restaurants before starting Lorraine’s Table in 2001. She has also participated in “Taste of Weehawken.”
“No plans for a cookbook, but maybe a satellite location,” she said, imagining the future of her business and where it may take her.
For now, she rents the Weehawken Elks Club kitchen and has two individuals helping her in the catering business, with a goal of bringing fresh ingredients made into eclectic meals and delivered to locals at reasonable prices. She can make just about anything for parties and accommodates for dietary restrictions, but she finds enjoyment in the challenge of operating her own busy schedule. She lists a weekly set menu that can serve customers in Hudson County and the borough of Edgewater.
The chef has also participated in The Supper Club, a dining experience for 30-40 people at a private home in Rutherford.
“Everyone leaves there full,” said Michelle.
The event is held at an undisclosed location revealed to attendees after registration.
Leona Nersesian, the president of the trustees at the library, shared that two members of the staff helped in arranging the chef to appear as part of their series.
“We try to get new people into the library and find out what they like,” said Nersesian, as the library wants to cater to different age groups and welcome new residents in town.
The crowd seemed pleased – a couple of her acquaintances attended to support her, and some older residents seemed to learn something new to try in the kitchen. She invited them to ask questions about preparation and what else they might consider ordering.
The library shared refreshments and displayed a number of modern culinary books on a back table for attendees to peruse for more food experimentation.