If your 2015 resolutions included developing new cooking skills or perhaps eating more healthfully, Southwest Virginia's Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va., is the place to be this fall.
Classes ranging from improving knife skills to Ethiopian cuisine and new and creative side dishes for upcoming holiday meals are just a few of the topics offered through the Center's culinary school, according to Jennifer Ferreira, the public relations and marketing specialist at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center.
"Every year we try to come up with new and interesting classes centered on cooking skills, diversity in ethnic cooking and, of course, educating cooks on the importance of utilizing fresh, locally-sourced foods."
The culinary skills that will be taught focus on knife skills: safety, selecting the right knife, and using a knife to creating interesting and unusual garnishes for food. A second class will teach an overview of beginning cake decorating for those cooks and bakers who want to wow their friends and families with beautiful and whimsical cakes.
"Our 'Knife Basics' class has been very popular over the years," says Ferreira. "The knife is one of the most important - if not the most important - utensils in a cook's batterie de cuisine."
Also on the schedule are several new types of cooking: Indian, Ethiopian,and heart-healthy cooking using fall vegetables.
"Chef Vik (Sahib Restaurant) returns to prepare a traditional Indian meal. Ethiopian is primarily a vegan cuisine which uses a lot of grains, lentils and spices, while the heart-healthy class focuses on those fall vegetables that many of us ignore, but are rich in vitamins, low in calories and available locally. We are also very happy to have Chef Phillip Newton of the Harvest Table Restaurant presenting several new and creative side dishes perfect for holiday meals."
And then there are the fun classes that offer holiday sweets and foods for the season (think chili, soups and breads).
"Our very popular soups class will be taught by Chef Joe Dugan of The Tavern in Abingdon," says Ferreira. "At our 2015 Soup Cook Off, the Tavern won the Professional Division and he will be featuring that soup as well as some other soups which will be perfect for the colder weather ahead."
And who knows? One of the participants just might be the 2016 winner of the Cook Off - scheduled for Feb. 6, 2016 - which will feature a surprise celebrity!
"There are also our very popular holiday party foods class by Sheridan Nice of Mona Lisa's in Johnson City, and a special class for children teaching them how to make their own gifts from the kitchen,'" Ferreira concludes.
Classes are taught at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, cost $35 each, are limited in size to allow for full hands-on participation, and are suitable for both adults and teens. (And participants are able to sample what they prepare)! Most classes are held on Mondays, although some take place on Saturdays.
Also on the calendar for this fall: the Monticello Wine Tour, Oct.6-7, a two-day trip on the Monticello Wine Trail to Charlottesville (see the website for complete details).
For more information about the class schedule and other offerings, to purchase gift certificates for classes, or to register, visit www.swcenter.edu/cooking or call 276-619-4300.