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Adults Go Back to (Cooking) Class

Story by Angela Dion
Photography by Beverly Jackson

Chef Loic Jaffres of Café des Artistes, a French restaurant in Leonardtown

Cooking classes aren't just for those seeking a culinary arts degree. Many adults in the tri-county area are discovering that learning how to prepare a gourmet meal under the tutelage of a world-class chef can be entertaining, educational and appetizing.

Vickie Grow, program coordinator for the personal enrichment classes at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM), is launching a series of adult cooking classes this fall in St. Mary's and Charles counties, and come spring, Calvert County should be added to the schedule.

"It is our hope that the cooking classes are popular. The general public has been asking for them for some time now," said Grow.

Waldorf's Ted Stolk has been a chef for 22 years. He's apprenticed and/or worked in Holland, New Orleans, Ohio and New York. He has taught cooking for many years and even did live cooking segments for a morning television show in Buffalo, New York. He is currently the chef at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and cooks Wednesday night dinners at First Baptist Church of Waldorf.

"Students range in age from 22 to 60…from the student living in a dorm room to the empty nester trying to learn some new skills to impress friends. All students have shown a genuine interest and asked a lot of questions," said Stolk. "This is what makes it challenging, but also a lot of fun."

This fall Stolk is teaching "Oktoberfest" (a German menu including Sauerbraten, Weiner Schnitzel and Black Forest Cake) and "Great 30-Minute Meals" (prepare seven dishes in three hours!) for CSM. He is developing a New Orleans/Cajun class for the spring.

Chef Loic Jaffres of Café des Artistes, a French restaurant in Leonardtown, has taught cooking classes since 1993. "I've taught in various capacities and workshops for first-year cooking students, couples, diplomat's wives, housekeepers and rent-a-chefs! My philosophy has always been that cooking and learning to cook should be fun," he said.

"It is amazing how many people are interested in the art of cooking, and eating, and I love to share my passion," said Jaffres.

Jaffres's students agree. Retired Federal Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson of Compton won a cooking lesson in an auction to benefit the Historic St. Mary's City Foundation.

"We spent a delightful evening watching and learning how a master chef prepares an elegant meal in a small home kitchen," said Jackson. "From his incomparable shrimp bisque - one of my favorites and the best bisque ever - to the apple tarte that followed his Beef Wellington entrée, Loic showed us by work and deed how it should be done."

Last year Robin Richards and her husband Matthew received "A Day with Chef Loic" as a wedding gift from her sister. Robin remembers it well, "Karleen [Chef Loic's wife who runs the dining room at the restaurant] and Loic are wonderful people. He made everything fun and easy."

This fall Jaffres is teaching "Picking and Pairing Wines/Gourmet Dishes" and "Gourmet French Cuisine" at CSM. The French cuisine course will offer four different dinner menus in four 3-hour sessions on Monday evenings at North Point High School.

Chef Asiminia Greesis from Ouzo's Greek restaurant is teaching "A Taste of Greece" at the La Plata restaurant this fall. The menu includes wine, salad, Tzatziki sauce, Greek roasted chicken, oven-baked potatoes and Baklava.

With so many choices of cuisine, you're guaranteed to find something that tempts your pallet. Cooking classes offer not only invaluable lessons, but also a wonderful meal. Robin Richards agrees: "I would encourage anyone considering a cooking class to go for it. It was our favorite wedding gift."

Classes are offered at the restaurants themselves, at North Point High School's state-of-the-art kitchen, or can even be arranged to be done in your home. Classes include all utensils and food. Fees range from $32-$225, depending on the length of lesson and the complexity of the menu.

To find out about local cooking classes visit CSM at www.csmd.edu; Café des Artistes at www.cafedesartistes.ws or phone 301-997-0500; and Ouzo's at www.ouzos.com or phone 301-392-9500.

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