WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- There are a lot of fancy, exciting words one could use to describe The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs.
Of course, the list doesn't generally include terms like "quick" or "simple," but that's exactly what the famed resort offered at its Culinary Weekend held Feb 7-9, and that, said a number of guests, is what it delivered.
"That was amazing -- she really pulls it together," said Diane Oliver, of Charleston, after a cooking demonstration and tasting of crab and asiago melts whipped up and baked in less than 30 minutes before a hungry crowd at The Greenbrier Gourmet & Coffee Bar shop last weekend.
The demo was one of more than a dozen food-focused activities that were part of the Culinary Weekend, the third of eight themed weekends The Greenbrier is offering through its 2014 Discovery Series.
Culinary demonstrator Michelle Masters -- who has traveled the world and worked with the likes of Julia Child -- may have surprised more than a few guests by announcing her approach to food.
"I'm all about celebrating and spending time with my family, not spending time away from them in the kitchen," she said right off the bat.
"If you want to be fabulous and five-star, call the caterer and let the chefs do it, because you're supposed to enjoy your family and entertaining them, and enjoy your friends," she added.
As she worked with cookbook author Shane Kearns, she walked the crowd through scores of tiny shortcuts, such as baking on a reusable, flexible, nonstick silicone liner for lightning-fast cleanup, and peeling vegetables in both directions to finish the chore twice as fast.
"It took me 30,000 pounds of carrots to figure that out," she joked.
The other "trick" she shared was using top-quality ingredients, like crabmeat from Phillips, out of Baltimore, and truffle oil for drizzling over veggies.
"Normally you get crabmeat and it's very fine. You can't really tell which is the crab and which is the filling," said Marge Trusler, spending her birthday weekend with food-loving friends from across West Virginia.
"Now this is crab," she said.
Kearns, who grew up vacationing with his family at The Greenbrier, autographed copies of his cookbook "Melt: 100 Amazing Adventures with Grilled Cheese."
"I sort of grew up at The Greenbrier," he said. "The fact that you had to dress for dinner was a really big deal. I remember sitting down to eat and asking, 'Why do we have 10 pieces of silverware?'"
"Melt" is a reflection of his love for the grilled cheese sandwiches his mother and grandmother used to make -- with a grownup, creative twist. The recipes are both savory and sweet, and have names such as Crème Fraîche with Apple and Cucumber, or Fusion Salmon Piccata.