I was recently lucky enough to participate in two amazing cooking classes on the same day. It just so happened that a neighborhood friend invited me to join her for an afternoon class and a friend from my children’s school invited me to a class on the same evening. If you ever read this blog, you know that I love to cook. So, there was no chance I was going to decline either invitation. Instead, I put on my stretch-y pants and enjoyed two wonderful meals. Both classes were fun and informative. Thankfully, the format of the classes as well as the menus were very different so having both on the same day did not feel like groundhog day.
My afternoon class was taught by Amanda Skrip. I was invited to join a group of women who have known Amanda and been taking classes from her on a somewhat regular basis for years. Amanda is a natural foods educator, chef, health coach, and wellness expert. She graduated from New York University in 2005 with a degree in Communication and Nutrition Studies. Amanda went on to receive her culinary training at the Natural Gourmet Institute and furthered her holistic nutrition education at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. After working in kitchens in New York City, Amanda relocated to Chicago and began to share her passion for natural foods and healthy living with her private cooking and coaching clients.
For our class, we met in one of the participant’s homes and Amanda demonstrated the preparation of a menu of healthy fall side dishes. And, of course, as participants, we were able to sample the fruits of her labor. The menu included: creamy white beans with crispy Brussels sprouts; roasted sweet potatoes and apples with pomegranate; beets with spinach, goat cheese and pistachio; wild rice with French beans and shallots; and, chocolate coconut tart. I should note that this was not a hands-on class; this was a demonstration. But, as someone who cooks often, it was nice to sit back and let someone else handle the dirty work. As you can see from the images below, the finished product was amazing.
If you like to cook healthy, whole food, I highly recommend signing up for one of Amanda’s classes. All of her dishes were easy and delicious. Amanda teaches public cooking classes at Whole Foods Market in Chicago, is the resident chef of Bump Club and Beyond, and is a nutritional coach for Ruth’s Hemp Foods. She has been featured in Daily Candy, Vital Juice, Mindful Metropolis and has appeared on I Am Healthy Radio, NBC Chicago and You and Me This Morning. You can sign up for her classes, workshops and newsletters on her website www.amandaskrip.com.
Cook Au Vin
My evening class was at the Cook Au Vin cooking school. Cook Au Vin offers French-fusion cooking classes in Chicago. The school is run by the group that owns the La Boulangerie bakeries in Lakeview and Ravenswood. The format of the Cook Au Vin class was different from Amanda’s in that it was a hands-on experience. The participants prepare their dinner under the guidance of an experienced chef and then enjoy the meal they have prepared at a lovely farm table in the kitchen. The class was in the evening and the school encourages participants to bring wine to enjoy during the class and, of course, the meal. Our menu included: gougères, fresh fettuccine, haricot vert with roasted mushrooms, saumon au beurre blanc, and chocolate souffle.
I can’t say enough good things about the Cook Au Vin class. While not as health-focused as Amanda’s class, we used fresh, whole ingredients and made everything from scratch. The chef was excellent at taking a group of people with varying levels of cooking skills and pulling together a beautiful meal. It was a fun and informative evening and a great way to spend time with friends.
If you live in the Chicago area, I highly recommend both of these cooking programs. Check out their websites and, if you have questions, feel free to post a comment below.