Do you love watching cooking shows, but wish you could slow the chef down, ask questions about the process, see the food cook in real time and learn a trick or two in a professional kitchen environment? Would you love knowing the chefs who are teaching you these skills and tricks might just live in your own neck of the woods? Do you enjoy supporting local businesses?
At The Cook’s Shop in downtown Marietta, cooking classes are offered weekly (3-4x/month) that allow you to do all of these things at once.
When Ken and Dagmar Kupsche purchased a large brick building on Front St. almost eight years ago, they initially fell in love with the appeal of a loft space, but always knew they wanted to share part of the space for a storefront setting. Ken and Dagmar both love cooking and baking, so it felt natural to them to head in the direction of a kitchen store. But they wanted more than what some might consider a traditional kitchen store experience. They wanted to show their customers how to use the variety of tools they could find at their shop, and they wanted to build an interactive sense of community. The goal: to introduce interactive cooking classes with local chefs.
“You can meet who is cooking for you at your favorite local restaurant in our classes,” Dagmar mentioned. The chefs come in on a rotating basis, ranging from the international cuisine of local restaurants like Mango’s Latin Bistro and Cham’s Labenese Cuisine, to other local favorites such as The Buckley House and Grand Point. John Rossi of Rossi Pasta in Marietta has also taught pasta making at The Cook’s Shop in the past. In addition, there are culinary theme nights such as Italian night, seafood, soups, baking and cake decorating, specialty breads, pizza, cooking with beer and a German-themed dinner (coming in October), offered throughout the year. Arrive to your class of choice with an avid note-taking hand and you can leave with a stack of new recipes and ideas to try at home.
The classes have done very well, Dagmar and her kitchen and store assistant Gayle Shank say, often selling out in advance at around $35-55 per person. The variety of offerings keep people coming back to learn more, and are fresh and always evolving, even including public safety classes such as gluten free and diabetic dietary classes as well as a kitchen knife skills and safety class.
As part of the expanding class list – and a desire to incorporate our local MOV community – Dagmar, a fan of the local farmer’s markets, heard of a produce auction in Chesterhill, Ohio by the way of one of her cooking class chefs, Jamie Heydinger. Jamie, a highly skilled chef from the former Thrive Catering restaurant in Marietta, goes to the Chesterhill Produce Auction every Monday and purchases much of his kitchen stock for his own meals while there. Intrigued by this idea, and wanting to share it with local cooking class enthusiasts, Dagmar created a class challenge of sorts in which Jamie could create dishes based off the produce available at that week’s auction. The students were invited to join in on the auction fun before the class began, then reconvene at the Shop to watch Chef Jamie masterfully create on the fly. Going in, it was only known that there would be a beef and pork dish prepared. The produce auction at Chesterhill does not auction meat and/or dairy products. Though often, eggs can be purchased in the larger lots.
The auction was an exciting experience in and of itself. It is free to attend every Monday and Thursday at 4pm and is separated into different lots – small (for individuals/ families), medium and large (for restaurants). There’s even a way to read the coding on the tags that helps to explain what is certified organic (Letters mean Amish crops, and therefore organic crops; numbers on the tags are still local, but not Amish/certified). To participate, just sigh up for a number on-site at the auction, take a look around at the available produce lots for bidding, and expect to leave with a bunch of fresh fruit and veggies. Prices were overall very low, getting most of the produce we needed for a sampling of dishes for that evening’s class (of about a dozen students) for about $15, including a loaded basket filled with a variety of vegetables, called a “dinner in a box.”
Fresh, organic tomatoes, squash, garden grapes, cabbage and corn were among the produce brought to the table during Chef Jamie’s demonstration. Paired with beef and pork, the students were invited to sample a variety of dishes over the two hour class period, and left inspired to infuse more local produce into their home kitchens. I know I, for one, will be visiting Chesterhill more than once before the auction season ends in October.
To find more information on the Chesterhill Produce Auction in Chesterhill, Ohio, check out their website and facebook page, or reach them by phone: 740-677-4047 / Auction Days: 740-554-7927. The Auction is located at 8380 Wagoner Rd. in Chesterhill, OH (about 35 minutes from Marietta). Auction payments can be made by cash, approved check, debit and credit cards.
To find our more about The Cook’s Shop’s upcoming cooking classes, stop by their storefront at 180 Front St., Marietta, OH, or check out their current newsletter. You can sign up for classes in-store or over the phone: 740-538-6003. As a bonus, students also receive 10% off any purchase in-store at the end of each class.