Can I still say that on January 10th? I think we get the entire month of January to welcome in the new year. I know that I for one am still adjusting to 2011, in fact I’m not sure I’ve written the right year on a check yet! (Ok, it’s usually around April before I do.)
Other than the inevitable date confusion - this time of year feels shiny and new, full of possibilities, hope for what this new year may bring. Here at The Culinary Center of Kansas City we see the excitement first hand. Knife skills classes fill to the brim with excited students eager to start chopping and dicing like their favorite TV star chefs, Three day basics classes are all the rage taking students from “kitchen zero to kitchen hero” in just a weekend!
The trend nearest and dearest to me though is the excitement buzzing through our kitchens by students taking classes that not only teach them to make delicious food, but healthy food as well. So many people resolve to live a healthier lifestyle this time of year, but it is sometimes tough to make those resolutions stick. As someone who’s lost 100 lbs, I certainly understand this is a struggle, but I’m so proud to hear from our students is that when they leave our classes, they have tools, recipes and confidence to keep the momentum going!
We’ve got quite the line up of such classes this winter too, from lunchtime classes with wellness coach Shelly Murray (next one on January 19th), to Gluten Free classes of all kinds (don’t miss The Basics of Cooking Gluten Free on 1/30), to my very own classes for weight watchers (Don’t miss One Pan Meals for weight watchers on 1/29 and Comfort Foods for weight watchers on 2/19). There certainly is a lot of healthy excitement around here!
Oh, I do love this time of year! This week marked the beginning of Gingerbread Mania here at The Culinary Center of Kansas City! The first lucky people got to come in with their friends and families, make an edible keepsake and leave without cleaning up the mess! (Lucky them!!)
We made gingerbread houses a lot when I was a kid, using gingerbread, graham crackers, candy and all the trimmings, I must admit that they started out as glorious mountains of candy, but as the season wore on, the decorations disappeared mysteriously and by Christmas the houses were bare cookie shacks, most of the festive trimmings having been ingested by a sibling.
One of the best holiday cookie adventures that I remember is one year when we had a “cookie tree party” we baked and baked and decorated trees all over the house with tons and tons of amazing Christmas confections hanging from them. As a child this is the best kind of party, not only tasty, but a bit magical feeling. These kinds of traditions always remind me of the feeling you only get as a child during the holiday season, the intense excitement and anticipation of something wonderful to come. It’s a rare thing to capture that childhood feeling again, it’s a gift.
Guess what time it is? I know, I know you weren’t ready to walk into stores yet and hear Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman and suddenly … here it is!
Personally I look forward to this time of year, the falling leaves, the promise of family and friends gathered together around a big turkey, a round of holiday drinks, or exchanging cookies and holiday breads. It’s even almost time for my annual bake – fest. Every year I test my arm muscle strength as I knead tons of dough for the 40+ loaves of homemade Romanian christmas bread. (It’s just like the Povitica you may have seen around town, or Polish Babka) They are a bit of a workout but I ALWAYS get requests and I think that a homemade food gift really tells the other person that you care about them, that you put in the effort to give them something really special from your heart and your culture.
Here at The Culinary Center of Kansas City we do a great job at the holidays. It’s already parties and tinsel galore around here, and we’ve got all sorts of classes gearing everyone up for the impending season! This last Saturday I taught a fantastic group of folks an entire Thanksgiving Dinner for weight watchers from salad to pie. It was a blast! On the 11th and 13th of next month I’ll be back with Holiday Desserts from cookies for your exchanges to a Banana’s Foster bread you can give away as gifts, to an AMAZING Light New York Cheesecake, and a Cranberry Caramel Apple Tart Tatin…. all for weight watchers. I cannot wait!
Oh, but there is more holiday fun to be had! We’ve got Celia Shea in teaching us how to make cupcakes that look just like Holiday Ornaments on December 4th and 11th!
Don’t miss our famous Gingerbread House parties with the delightful Diana Cooper on December 5th, 12th, and 19th, now these are really special events where the whole family can make something wonderful and memorable together… that’s what it’s all about right? Don’t forget about our Holly and Ivy Holiday Dinners with Chef Matt Chatfield’s amazing array of holiday goodness… and none of the cleanup of havin’ dinner at your house! (top that!)
There are so many great festive things going on over here make sure you don’t miss out on the holiday action!
Today at The Culinary Center of Kansas City is all about indulgence in every sense of the word. Tantalizing smells, exciting tastes, and beauty… veggie beauty.
OK, slow down… what’s with all the veggie beauty stuff? Well, have you been in on a Wednesday morning to check out our winter farmer’s market yet? Every Wednesday (and starting in November Saturday!) when I open the door it’s like a surprise waiting for me… what new exciting veggies will the guys at “The Organic Garden” have for me today? What will I learn? (As a certified food nerd this IS my very favorite thing to do.) This morning was no exception, I was greeted by tables of fresh amazing produce, things I love like peppers, squash, and pumpkins and even some I didn’t know existed… did you know there was such a thing as a white sweet potato? Flame red, deep green, fiery orange, colors that only truly fresh produce boasts, hinting to the intense flavor inside. Sensory indulgence has begun.
It doesn’t stop there, oh no, Chef Cody Hogan is in today with one of his full day Italian classes. Ten different sauces, ten different pastas and hundreds of wonderful smells wafting through the culinary center and luckily, past my desk. He’s tempting our taste buds with the best of the Italian boot from tip to toe and it’s almost too much to resist!!!!
Don’t let us have all the fun though, come by and take a whiff, grab a veggie, check out a class or two and cook up some indulgence for yourself!
It’s almost new season finally! Summer is unofficially starting this weekend and it really feels like it! My chef coat is starting to get a little sticky when I’m demonstrating at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings…. eww. I’ll take that over chilly rainy wind any day though. The weather is new, the heat is on and we have a ton of new things happening as well!
Chef Matt had his very first “Executive Chef’s Private Table” class on Saturday. I can hardly describe how thrilled all the students were, and how much I would have loved to be in their seat! (Note to self: Go to the next one!!!) Picture this, an amazing 5 course meal, prepared tableside with the chef demonstrating everything along the way, and creating incredible dishes using things like Foie Gras, Kumquats, and Vanilla Poached Lobster and wine pairings for every course. Wow! Top that for a date!
It was a small class (intentionally intimate) and the students had such amazing things to say about their experiences! One said “Chef Matt was over-the-top fabulous! I loved his easy going manner and the tips he shared as he moved along the demonstrations. He had a nice rapport with us and created an atmosphere were I was comfortable asking questions.” another said “In the weeks between signing up and showing up, I fretted about having committed to the event — it seemed so indulgent and decadent; I came close to cancelling more than once. But now I know it was money well spent. I learned SO much; ate incredible food; had a wonderful experience — all of it priceless!” Well, that about sums it up now doesn’t it!
Now for other new things, people have been signing up for so many classes this summer that we’ve had to schedule a slew of new ones! I wasn’t sure if you were all aware of all the great new opportunities to break away from the pool for a few minutes and head to the kitchen but here they are!
We’ve just added another Master Class with Sara Moulton on June 4th… this is a rare opportunity to hang out with a celebrity chef!
On the heels of Sara we’ve added a Cupcakes class on June 10th with baker extraordinaire Diana Cooper (nothing is cuter than cupcakes right?).
June 23rd brings another Ravioli and Filled Pasta class with Chef Cody Hogan, I love pasta’s in the summer time, quick easy and no heating up the house with the oven!
On to July 6th and I have convinced Lon Lane to come back and give us another session of his wildly popular and very well received Upscale Breakfast and Brunch class!
Chef TJ Stack has graciously agreed to teach a second session of his “Sensational Salads” class on July 11th, Awesome summer food!
Executive Chef Matt Chatfield preserves all of your garden and farmer’s market goodies in a second session of Preserving Nature’s Bounty on July 14th
Lon Lane gives us even MORE show stopping Hors D’Oeuvres on August 3rd
Cody Hogan returns on August 10th for another Über Extreme Pizza class and on August 17th for another Introduction to Fresh Pasta for all of you interested in rolling dough!
Whew, looks like I’m splitting my time between the pool and the kitchen this summer, and so are a lot of you!