Cooking classes at Spice-Topia

Chef Amy inspires you with new recipes at downtown spice store. Photo by Michael Gordon

by Jennifer Tipton

Spice-Topia is the quaint little shop downtown on Main Street where fresh spices from all over the world, a variety of teas, infused olive oils, tasty balsamic and many other items tempt your culinary curiosity. One cannot walk by without being drawn in by the inviting scents of cinnamon and assorted spices, offering an invitation to create new recipes or bump the old ones up a notch or two!

Looking for new recipes or inspiration? Cooking classes are offered at Spice-Topia by either Chef Amy or Chef Lu usually every other week in the evening 6:30-8:30. These kitchen divas attended the same culinary school, both are personal chefs and have their own catering business.

The classes are demos so that the students participate like a live studio audience with attendees from all age groups, gender and cooking experience. Complimentary herbal iced tea is served and the menus range in theme from “Gourmet Italian” to “Taco Night” with special holiday menus such as “Sweetheart Supper” and the one I recently enjoyed, “Summer with Chef Amy”. This was a celebration of summer that offered Bloody Mary Tomato Crostini’s, Sticky Balsamic Ribs, Corn Skewers with Cilantro Lime Butter, 5 Bean Salad with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette and Blueberry Peach Portable Pie – oh yes!

As the chefs demo the preparation, students learn the fundamentals of chopping an onion (without crying), peeling garlic the easy way and other tricks of the trade such as proper technique and safe food handling.

Chef Amy teaches about the origin of certain foods and emphasizes the importance of certified organic produce, the best cuts of meat, best places to shop and don’t even get her started on GMOs … Chef Amy states, “It’s okay to disagree with me, but remember, I have knives!”

Both chefs stress the importance of checking expiration dates which prompted me to tear through my pantry only to find a can of baking powder from 1986, (maybe that’s why my cakes kept falling) and maybe that’s why everything at Spice-Topia is so fresh and aromatic.

Although the classes are demos, all items on the menu have been pre-prepared, students are served samplers of everything and sent home with the recipes. Classes are only $35.00 and everyone gets 15% off their store purchase the night of the class. Such a deal!

Check their website for details: www.spicetopia.com

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