Getting Back on the Bike

 

It was a long time away from doing classes, with 6 months to recover from my injury. And January and February proved to be a catch up time, with 10 classes–yes, 10!–all happening between January and March 4th! At first, it felt like hurtling down a trail on my bike after not riding for a year, but fear quickly morphs into enjoyment when it’s a fun and rewarding activity. The thing with teaching a class that keeps me on my toes is the sheer challenge of the multitask: talking and cooking at the same time as I interact with guests who come from all walks of life, with questions and insight into whatever I’m preparing. I approach each evening as much as a learning experience for me as it is for my guests as each class is a bit different, bringing its’ own flavour and unique challenges.

Let me share about one particular class: a birthday party for a group who has joined in on cooking classes more than 10 times in the past! They presented the challenge of doing something new: “off menu” so to speak. My friend was eager to send me pictures of fun things that they would like to learn–or simply like to eat–and I worked on making them my own. With ceviche from the Caribbean and a salad wrapped up in cucumber, I was stocking away some of my new favourite recipes for future cooking classes, and thankful for creative people to learn from.

Cucumber-wrapped salad with grapefruit and blue cheese

Ceviche made with fresh walleye

A guest from my January’s “Eat Clean” called to set up a custom class and asked if I would be willing to do the class in her kitchen. I reluctantly agreed, worried about the stress of transferring my food and equipment to another kitchen and having to learn her space on the fly. It turns out she was a wonderful host, and has a dream kitchen with a super user-friendly setup. I could simply think, “where would I look for a spatula,” take a guess, and there it was! In our main course of stuffed beef tenderloin with truffled red wine reduction (yum!), we discussed the benefits of roasting the meat at a high heat first and then reducing it to temperature, and the different tastes of black and white truffle oil. I learned not to be intimidated by new spaces but embrace the challenge it brings. I was also introduced to a new way of making coffee using a funky hourglass-shaped flask – bonus!

Participants getting up close and friendly with their food in my chef-at-home style cooking class

My amazing sous chef, Shannon, keeps me organized and my work space clean so I can focus on the guests and the food.

Coming up this week (March 3rd) is a cooking class of a different sort: Team-building style workshop where again I pack up my things and set up the class in a new setting. For my workshops, I use the Regional Food Distribution Association’s kitchen, a fantastic space perfect for community kitchens and corporate workshops. Rather than my usual demonstration style class, I will be putting the guests to work as they tackle team-building skills in friendly cooking competition. It will look different than the last time, with new challenges to face, but I’m excited to see what may come of it!

If it wasn’t for the rush of hurtling down that hill, I may be too intimidated to take on the unknown. But the challenge calls to me, and I’m in.

 

 

 

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