Photo (from left to right): Headwaters Center Sr Manager Andrea Caflisch; Chef de Cuisine John Christlieb; Pastry Chef Taylor Houston; Guest Chef John Leslie; and Sommelier Evan Biner

Headwaters Center is raising a glass to the educational experience and dining options with cooking demonstrations that will make your mouth water and your tastebuds jump for joy.

On Monday evening, June 4th, twenty fortunate guests attended the first Interactive Cooking Demonstration at the Headwaters Ecology & Community Center in Winter Park.

Hosted by the Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort culinary team, Chef John Leslie, Chef de Cuisine John Christlieb, and Pastry Chef Taylor Houston led attendees through the preparation of each course, and Sommelier Evan Biner described the wine pairings he’d selected for each that evening during the demonstrations.

As we arrived, we were treated to a pre-dinner reception with a refreshing glass of White Knight Prosecco and a fruit and cheese platter. It was a beautiful late spring evening, so we enjoyed it on the deck overlooking the Fraser River and the Continental Divide. Guests toured the new facility, chattering among themselves, and the atmosphere was filled with anticipation of what the night would bring.

As the demonstration got started, we rose from our seats and gathered around the large counter which connects the main room to the professional kitchen. Chef John Leslie and Chef de Cuisine John Christlieb showed us how they prepared a Fuji Ahi Salad, made up of fresh farm greens, red cabbage, english cucumber, carrot, fuji apple, grilled shiitake mushroom, toasted sesame seeds and pickled ginger, mixed with a sweet wasabi vinaigrette. Chef John Christlieb expertly sliced veggies as Chef John Leslie showed the group how to put a sear on the ahi. The salad was topped with the spicy seared ahi tuna (which means “tuna tuna”, joked Chef John Leslie). We were also treated to the full recipe for this course via email the next day. The wine accompaniment for this course was a semi-dry Trimbach Riesling from Alsace, France, which complimented the salad perfectly.

Our main course was comprised of “melt in your mouth” Shiraz-braised beef short-ribs which had been slow-cooked that afternoon with a Shiraz demi glaze. Chef Leslie recommended pan searing the short-ribs on all four sides before cooking them “low and slow” at 275 degrees for four hours. The entree was completed with a side of roasted sweet potato, poblano chili, pearl onion hash, cumin roasted baby carrots and micro greens. A glass of Gemtree Dragon’s Blood Shiraz from Mclaren Vale, Australia paired nicely with the dish.

Each time we returned to our table, we found our settings had been cleared of any empty glasses, our waters had been refilled, and, our napkins had been folded neatly, all adding to a truly exceptional experience.

Pastry Chef Taylor Houston chose an intricate dessert of lemon curd, marscapone and panna cotta with a blueberry compote and topped with a handmade almond tuile. All chefs joined in to assist Chef Houston in putting the complex dessert together for us. Evan Biner chose a glass of Domaine de Durban Muscat Beaumes de Venise from France for dessert and it was, again, perfect.

As the evening drew to a close, the culinary team mixed with the group, talking about their backgrounds, careers and how they came to the Fraser Valley. Headwaters Center Senior Manager, Andrea Caflisch, told the group about the next interactive cooking demonstration, a 4-course beer pairing, which is coming up on Monday, July 2nd at 6 pm.

For about the cost of a nice dinner, this is an excellent way to garner a few cooking and pairing tips from the pros while enjoying a palatable, interactive experience. You can find out more about upcoming events and purchase tickets at