Attendees of the St. Charles Park District’s new cooking classes, The Young Gourmet, will walk away with more than a new meal to add to their recipe book. Students will gain confidence in the kitchen and the independence that comes with preparing their favorite foods.
Instructor Abby Sheaffer knows a thing or two about gaining that confidence. Like Rachael Ray and Ina Garten, she is a self-taught chef and food blogger, and learned from experience, making dishes for family and friends and teaching her nieces and nephews. Along the way, she gained confidence in cooking and began instructing professionally.
And her passion cannot be denied. Whether she’s describing ingredients in a salad or the gourmet meal for her next class, her love of cooking exudes from every word.
“I always feel it is so rewarding to put a couple of ingredients together and turn something ordinary into extraordinary,” said Sheaffer, a St. Charles resident. “I want to teach people that what you see on cooking shows and in magazines, you can do at home. You’ll make mistakes along the way, but you’ll gain the confidence and the techniques, and exceed your expectations in more ways than one.”
This spring, the Young Gourmet will offer Surf & Turf with Chocolate Mouse from 6-8 p.m. May 28, held in the cooking studio at Pottawatomie Community Center.
During this class, for ages 14 and older, students will make steak paired with scallops, and chocolate mousse for dessert. During this time, they will learn techniques such as how to sear steak and double broil chocolate, and the science behind the mailliard reaction to make crispy smashed potatoes, as well as other tips and tricks to use in the kitchen.
“It’s so satisfying to have the tools and techniques to cook for yourself, so you don’t have to rely on others to make your favorite foods,” Sheaffer said. “There is so much power and independence that comes from knowing how to cook.”
Which is one reason why she encourages all ages – from families to couples to teenagers – to attend her class. “I would love a wide range of ages. The class is for anyone who wants to learn and has an interest in cooking,” Sheaffer added.
She also hopes to inspire attendees on their use of ingredients. “I want to show people the importance of ingredients and how it can transform a dish.”
Those ingredients are always fresh and seasonal from local stores and markets, exemplified in her line-up of summer cooking classes: Fresh Margherita Pizza & Wild Berry Crumble; Spinach Artichoke Spaghetti Squash and Blueberry Meyer Lemon Pound Cake; and Homemade Pesto Roast Chicken Thighs and Local Honey Crème Brûlée.
To register, visit www.stcparks.org. For more information, call Sabrina Killeen, Pottawatomie Community Center Supervisor, at 630-513-4329.
For more information about Abby Sheaffer, visit www.abbycooksstuff.com.
Please note, classes may be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.