What’s the first rule of foodie club? Diversify the decadence because you don’t want every meal to be the same. Heaven forbid your Instagram feed gets bland and starved for enticing images. That’s why many culinary enthusiasts opt to try and channel their culinary talents through cooking classes. Not only do you get behind-the-scenes access to the kitchen, but you also experience the pride and joy of creating the feast-worthy finished product. Then you can stage and shoot your food to your heart’s content before you begin enjoying some serious indulgence. Here’s where our friend/innkeeper Chef Monika Sudakov of Chestnut Street Inn in Sheffield, IL comes in very handy!
Chestnut Street Inn
As a certified culinary professional, who also has a Masters Degree in Cultural Anthropology with an emphasis on Food and Culture, Chef Monika was always intent on teaching cooking/culture – and specifically to promote cultures people aren’t accustomed to like Moroccan/Greek – since she and her husband Jeff opened the inn. In addition to her experience and knowledge, Chef Monika also has a background in theater so she is very comfortable with the presentation aspect of educating others. It’s apparent as well by the feedback from students that this offering has been a huge success.
“My classes have been wildly popular and have a very high return rate,” reveals Chef Monika. “People like to try different cultures, and what makes my classes unique to most other culinary schools or classes is that it is completely hands-on. Everyone is involved in preparing every course of a four-course meal. My job is to guide them, give them cooking technique suggestions, educate them about spices, expand their knowledge about the culture, and show them a good time! I had a repeat group just today with a 16-year-old who loves to cook. I can tailor each class to any cooking expertise level.”
Gourmet Mediterranean Cuisine from Chef Monika
Classes are offered Sunday through Thursday and will accommodate up to 6 people per class. The group decides the menu they would like to prepare, then they get copies of the recipes, about 2-3 hours of class time, and after, they get to enjoy the full dinner while the staff cleans up. The experience is priced at $50 per person, plus tax. Two sample menus include:
1) Moroccan-Harira Soup; Roasted Pepper and Tomato Salad; Carrot Salad; Moroccan Relish; Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives; and Honey Citrus Cake
2) Italian-Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms; Caprese Salad; Roast Pork Tenderloin with Pesto and Herb Roasted Potatoes; and Tiramisu Creme Brulee
As for the future? “Depending upon interest I may branch off into offering an Indian class, Asian of some ilk, and possibly Brazilian or Cuban,” adds Chef Monika. “And I plan to offer more options to our Mediterranean fare.”
For more information or to set up a cooking class, you can contact Chef Monika at Chestnut Street Inn.