Ritz Carlton’s SALT Cooking School – Day 1 {Homemade Ranch Dressing}

This past week my Mom & I took a “girls trip” to the Salt Cooking School at The Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island, FL.  It was AMAZING!!  We had the best time.  We cooked all day and ate all afternoon.  What could be better??

The cooking class is a two day event.  We started off day one with a tour of all the kitchen facilities at The Ritz Carlton.

This is the banquet kitchen.  They prepare all the food for the events held at the hotel.
Right off the banquet kitchen was the cold prep kitchen and butcher shop.  They were prepping fruit when we walked in.  It was hard not to snag a strawberry off those pans!
Next up was the Pastry Kitchen.  I could have camped out here all day!!  They were pulling out Chocolate Cheesecake Souffles when we walked in.  I wanted to grab one and run out with it!  It smelled amazing!  The pastry kitchen works in shifts so all the pastries and breads are fresh.  They provide food for the entire hotel.

Our final stop on the tour was in the Cafe 4750 kitchen. It is open 24 hours a day and provides all the food for the Cafe, Lobby Lounge and Eight Sports Bar.

The cafe kitchen also makes all of the pasta for the resort. Chef Rick was nice enough to share that recipe with us.  I plan on trying it out this weekend!

After our tour, we hit the SALT Kitchen.  We were able to pick what we wanted to work on.  We could either stay with one chef or float around all day.  We did a little of both.

I spent a lot of time with Amanda, the pastry chef.  We made lemon pound cake, vanilla ice cream, grilled peaches and a honey balsamic glaze.  It was all delicious!

My Mom spent a lot of time working on the salad and then helped out with the skewers.

This was where we made the salad with homemade ranch dressing.  I’ll be sharing that recipe at the end of the post.  Everyone raved about it!

We made two kinds of BBQ sauce to go with the ribs – a mustard sauce and a more traditional red sauce.

We were in the kitchen until 1:00pm, and then we moved into the dining room.  Each chef plated their dish and brought it out to us.  SALT paired the food for us with some great wines.  We had a white, Zenato Pino Grigio, delle Venezi, Italy 2009, and a red, Marchesi Frescobaldi “Castello di Nipozzano” Chianti Rufina Reserva, Tuscany 2007

The Feast
Grilled Salad of Romaine
with Serrano wrapped Mancheago, Corn,  Red Onion and Homemade Ranch
Everyone loved this salad.  They were still raving about it the next morning.  I especially loved the grilled Serrano wrapped Mancheago!
Trio of Street Fare 
Pesto Marinated Shrimp and Melon / Filet Skewers / Spiced Chicken with Summer Succotash / Peach Sauce 
I loved this course.  I plan on trying the steak skewers this weekend with skirt steak.
Halibut en Papillote
Halibut with a tomato basil butter cooked in parchment
My Mom LOVED this dish.  She made sure to eat every bite. 

Quinoa Taboule
A cold quinoa salad with fresh veggies and lemon

Pureed watermelon, limoncello, light rum and lemon/lime soda – YUM!

Memphis Style Ribs 
The ribs were served over Boston Baked Beans with a Carolina Mustard Sauce and Kansas City Classic Sauce
The method they used was similar to my ribs recipe – they just cooked the foil wrapped ribs on the grill instead of the oven.

 Grilled Peaches, Lemon Pound Cake, Vanilla Ice Cream with a Honey Balsamic Glaze
This is the dish that I helped out with the most.  The lemon pound cake was amazing.  It was moist and full of lemon flavor.  It is on my list to make at home soon!
Coconut Caramel Sandwiches
This was a cross between an American and a French Macroon.  They are also Gluten Free!
These are on my “to make” list as well.  Chicken Legs would love these.

Day One was SO much fun!  We were exhausted from being on our feet all day and extremely full!  Below is the recipe for the Ranch Dressing we made.  This makes a TON and it is a ¼ of the recipe they use at SALT.  You can freeze the extra dressing or put it in mason jars and give it away.  Your friends will thank you!

The Ritz Homemade Ranch Dressing
(Printable Recipe)

½ gallon mayo
¼ gallon Buttermilk
2 lb sour cream
2 lb cottage cheese
1 yellow onion
3 ribs celery with leaves
1 carrot
¼ cup garlic cloves
1 English cucumber
1 Tbsp dry dill
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp white pepper
¼ cup Kosher salt

Grate all the vegetables.  (We grated them with a box grater.)  Mix all remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix in grated vegetables with dressing mixture.

Stay tuned for Day Two tomorrow!!
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  1. What a wonderful opportunity! All the photographs are gorgeous–I love seeing scenes from commercial kitchens. And the food all looks scrumptious. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I think I'm going to half this recipe and try it. If anyone else tries to half it, let me know how it comes out!

  3. okay, it looks wonderful…all of it

    lol…i'm going to have to 1/2 that recipe, then 1/2 it again to make sure I get the measurements correct

    I know us and if it's not a small amount, it would not come out of the black hole (my freezer)

  4. How fun that looks! I'm intrigued by the Ranch dressing recipe – ingredients I would not think to put into it!

    Your Mom is a cutie. 🙂

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