“There’s always something to learn and always somebody younger.” That’s part of what keeps Chef Martin Corso motivated and focused. Marty arrived in Murrieta by way of New Jersey. He discovered his passion early, fighting with his brother who wanted to watch Captain Kangaroo on TV. Marty preferred The Galloping Gourmet and later on wound up meeting Graham Kerr. He became best friends with Don Park when they worked together at Case Swayne (eventually acquired by Best Foods) in design and development. Marty eventually founded The M Group (M for Martin) and teamed up with Don’s wife Monica and Rhonda Struble who he met at The Wine Company in Temecula.
He followed his early love of cooking and turned it into a career. Marty has worked as a consultant for national restaurant chains, owned his own restaurants and has done catering. When launching The M Group, he wanted a name that not only had an air of mystery to it, but also gave him the ability to diversify. He teams up with Monica and Rhonda to do a cooking class in Murrieta once or twice a month. I’d call it the best kept secret around, but Marty’s classes are nearly always filled to capacity. The nice thing is, capacity is 22 to 24 people.
My wife Laura and I attended our first gathering of The M Group two Saturdays ago for Walkin’ On The Wild Side, an evening where game was the star of the show. On the menu was Roasted Pheasant with Tart Lingonberry Sauce, Shaved Port-Soaked Duck Breast Salad, St. Louis Style Wild Boar Ribs with a North Carolina styled Barbecue Sauce on Caramelized Leek Mashed Potatoes, Grilled Bison Skirt Steak (see picture), Grilled Elk Top Sirloin over Paperdelle Au Poivre Vert brought to a stunning conclusion with Bread Pudding and Crème Anglaise. Marty told me his regulars had been asking for a game night for years. He wanted to make sure he brought out the unique flavors of each ingredient, so that pheasant didn’t taste like chicken, wild boar didn’t taste like pork and the bison and elk didn’t taste like beef. “That’s where the chemistry comes in… how do you reverse engineer those flavors? It’s like a fine glass of wine. You want to pull the notes out that you want.”
Marty succeeded on every level. If there was a drawback, it was too much food. Two or three of the dishes would have been more than enough, but the food kept coming and it was all sublime. Marty calls it “a meal and a show.” You are definitely watching a show all right, but you’re learning at the same time. There’s not a bad seat in the house and there’s also a flat screen monitor where you can see close ups. Monica and Rhonda add a lot, serving the dishes and helping him roll out fresh pasta.
He wants to continue the cooking classes and maybe offer a few during the day or on weeknights. Sometimes his classes sell out before he even announces what’s on the menu. Teaching comes naturally to Marty and he would love to teach at the high school level, giving students a true idea of what they can expect in the “real world”.
I’m heading back to Marty’s kitchen tomorrow night for Italian Easter, Part 2. On the menu will be cherry peppers stuffed with Italian crackers, tuna and hot sauce, bone rolled and tied lamb, Pizza Giena, his mom Gloria Corso’s meat pie flown in from New Jersey, an intermezzo called Milaccio and a Limoncello Tiramisu. “I’ll probably throw in a few curveballs, too.” Easter dinner is the biggest dinner of the year in Italy and tomorrow he’ll feature dishes he grew up with. I can hardly wait. I’ve already begun fasting…
Contact The M Group at (951) 894-4040 or visit their website – http://themgroup.us