Community Education Food

Saturday Chef provides community cooking classes

(Featured image: At left, Chef Instructor David Cooper helps Angela Stokes (right) prepare Quiche Lorraine during the May 13 Saturday Chef class at Helms College. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News)

Megan Maloney enjoys cooking and wanted to find something to sharpen her cooking skills as well as providing a date day experience with her husband, Chris. She found it in Helms College’s Saturday Chef, a monthly community cooking class.

Stacey Cooper pits olives for the Salad Niçoise. during the May 13 Saturday Chef class at Helms College. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

“I love brunch meals,” said Maloney, a recent Augusta transplant, of the May 13 menu featuring Quiche Lorraine,  Potatoes Lyonnaise, Hollandaise sauce and Salad Niçoise.

Some of the menu items, Maloney had never tried making on her own and looked forward to having the opportunity to try them. She and her husband concentrated on the Quiche Lorraine, while other members of their group made other dishes.

Thirteen people participated in the class and were divided into three groups. Sisters Carolyn Ramp and Mary Able were among the returning students.

 “I just love cooking and wanted to learn new techniques and recipes and have a good time,” said Ramp, who has taken all the classes offered this year.

Helms College presented the community classes a few years ago, according to Chef Instructor David Cooper who led the class, but the pandemic forced a hiatus. They’ve only recently returned.

Since January, Ramp has made healthy dishes for the New Year, created candy for Valentine’s Day, honed her knife techniques and decorated cakes. She’s also enlisted Cooper’s help outside the classroom in transforming her own recipes, bringing them up a notch.

Cooper said the classes, in addition to teaching cooking, take the community behind the doors of Helms College.

Carolyn Ramp cracks eggs for Quiche Lorraine during the May 13 Saturday Chef at Helms College. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

“We identify where there are education gaps in the community that are not being filled by the technical or community college system and try to provide programs at as low a cost as possible, and we use our hospitality group and Goodwill retail to subsidize tuition,” he said. “It’s basically to build brand awareness.”

In addition to teaching the students how to make the prescribed dishes, Cooper provided them with a few tricks and techniques to help them in their home kitchens, including demonstrating the proper use of a mandoline, how to pit an olive using cake frosting tips and the best way to cook bacon – hint, it’s not frying in a saucepan, according to Cooper, it’s baking it in the oven.

Maloney said she enjoyed the class and her first one probably won’t be her last.

Plant-Based Garden Celebration is up next and is scheduled for June 17. A full class schedule is available at the Helms College website.

The three-hour classes cost $90 per person.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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