Cooking Up Skills At Culinary School
It might seem like a frivolous way to spend money these days, but taking a cooking class can pay off in skills that will sustain anyone during this downturn.
Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage, Tony's, Sunflower and Sprouts markets offer affordable classes. Some cities, most notably Aurora, have cooking programs. Call yours (or your county extension office) to see what's available. Check community colleges, too. While The Seasoned Chef, Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, Mise en Place, A Cook's Kitchen (Denver); Culinary School of the Rockies and Stir It Up (Boulder) present a wide variety of excellent classes for the home cook, here are a few you might not have heard of.
- Kristen Browning-Blas
- First Published:
- June 22nd 2009 at 12:06 a.m.
- Last Updated:
- June 21st 2009 at 07:36 p.m.
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When Eric and Kristen Frantz opened this school last summer, they found the perfect teacher: Erin Languell has both a culinary and child-care background. The school (part of a national franchise) offers single classes ($29) and memberships (starting at $25 registration, with monthly payments of $49) on monthly themes. In January, the kids learned "copycat" recipes from Chick-fil-A, Ben & Jerry's and Cinnabon. February was dessert month for all ages. "We use fresh ingredients; everything's from scratch," says Eric Frantz. "The kids get to eat what they make, and they take home the recipes."
On your next road trip to points east, consider stopping at this bed and breakfast for a cooking class. Chef/owner Dave Dischner offers monthly hands-on classes and custom classes for groups of six of more. The hands-on classes include appetizers, salad, bread, entree and dessert. You don't even have to stay the night. Classes are $85 per person, but if you'd rather relax after dinner, one night at the B&B, dinner and the class is $399 per couple
An elegant new school to match the "luxury resort lifestyle" setting in Greenwood Village's Landmark development, the Kitchen Table combines a cafe, retail space and classes in a professional kitchen with room for 12. "We pride ourselves on everyone doing the work themselves," says Kitchen Table's event planner, Nancy Buchanan. Students generally prepare three dishes - appetizer, entree and side dish - and eat or take home what they cook. Classes are usually about 2 1/2 hours and average $75. The Kitchen Table offers a series of skills classes (knife skills, sautéing, grilling), and themed subjects such as baking, sushi or southern Italian.
Sisters Jill and Mary Brinig moved to Denver specifically to open a cooking school/cafe. They chose the Highland neighborhood and have been raising the neighborhood's culinary quotient for the past year. They teach four to five classes per week and limit the size to 10 people so everyone can participate. "We don't train people to be chefs," says Mary Brinig. "These are recreational cooking classes; they are not in any way dumbed down, but they are doable at home. We teach a wide variety of techniques, from basics and knife skills through specialty cuisines - Thai, Vietnamese, Indian - and bread baking and cake decorating." They also offer gluten-free classes once a month, including pasta and bread. The sisters spread the wealth by donating extra food from the classes and the cafe to the Carpenter's Cupboard food bank in Wheat Ridge.
E. Vegan Cooks
Artist and cooking teacher Vicki Johnston has been a vegetarian for 20-plus years, exploring flavor, color, shape and texture on the plate. She applies macrobiotic principles of balance, seasonal foods and cooking techniques, using whole grains, beans, soy, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits. "It's the best thing for the environment and the most humane and sustainable way to eat - and, it turns out, it's the healthiest," says Johnston, who studied at Boulder's School of Natural Cookery and is finishing up a master's degree in nutrition. She keeps her classes small and hands-on. "I do seven to 10 different dishes in each class, which we eat and analyze. I also discuss the nutritional benefits of the foods," she says. Most classes are $65, and Johnston offers three for $150. In addition to teaching in Evergreen, she recently has begun teaching in a friend's central-Denver home, too.
Sharon Miller spent 12 years teaching high school students how to cook, sew, manage a budget and prepare for a career. She knows how to present information in a fun, hands-on way, and at $25, her two-hour classes are a bargain. She teaches in her spacious home kitchen primarily on Saturday mornings but will customize a class for a child's birthday party, bridal or baby shower, or corporate team-building event. The Nebraska native, home-ec major and world traveler combines her life experiences in an extensive variety of cooking styles: Chinese, Mexican, Italian, soup, fondue, bread and cookies.