The Culinary Education Center of Sanibel hit the ground running since opening its doors earlier this year, offering an assortment of classes and demonstrations for youth and adults.
"It's starting to catch on. I think people are starting to go, 'Hey let's go to the Community House' and take a class here," resident chef Jarred Harris said. "It's fantastic. I am so glad I am a part of this, especially from the ground level."
The classes are already gaining popularity, which further excites Harris about the possibilities.
Resident Chef Jarred Harris prepared stuffed risotto balls with fresh mozzarella, veal, pork, beef, sun dried tomatoes and herbs.
"Everyone comes to these classes so eager to learn. They are so happy that there is something like this in their community. This place is good, really awesome," Harris said. "Although I have only been an employee for over six months, it feels like I have been here for four, or five years. It's really good. I am very comfortable."
The culinary cooking classes offers general knowledge in a fun atmosphere while meeting new people.
"It will hopefully build up their culinary skills to make cooking fun," Harris said. "Cooking should be fun. It is not rocket science. A lot of people are afraid of it because it's a chore. It really shouldn't be that way. It should be a celebration. Get the kids involved. When kids cook stuff, they will eat it."
The hands-on classes are offered for up to 20 people and the demonstrations are available for up to 45 people. Harris said they are trying to offer two demos and a series of three classes per month.
There are four kids classes offered a month, one a week. Currently home school kids, and children registered with the after school program at the Rec Center are utilizing the classes.
All of the ingredients used for the classes are top-notch, Harris said.
"You can taste the difference," he said.
The next class, "Gourmet Prep for Home Chefs" with Harris will take place Sunday, April 23. The class, $45 a person, will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The Community House. The menu includes tomato basil bisque, lump crab cakes, yucca fries and a lemon tart with berries.
That Saturday, "Fun with Flour," a kid's cooking class, will take place April 29 from 9 a.m. to noon with Harris. The class is dedicated for youth 6 to 10 years old who will make pasta and bread with traditional and gluten-free ingredients. The cost is $20 per child and includes lunch, which is prepared in the class.
A previous kids cooking class made ratatouille. Harris said kids ranged in age from 6 to 13.
"They all sat down and ate plates of vegetables. It just goes to show you, if they cook, if they make it themselves and see the preparation, they are going to try it," Harris said.
In addition to Harris teaching the classes, the Culinary Education Center of Sanibel also features visiting chefs.
Loretta Paganini will offer a cooking class from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 18. The menu features such items as veal osso buco, ravioli and tiramisu. The class is $95 per person.
"I love her, she is awesome," Harris said. "She is a wonderful person. She is really clever. I like her teaching style. She makes people think. She is going to make me a better teacher just being around her."
Paganini will also have a cookbook signing at The Community House from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 20.
"Hands on Cooking Instruction" with Cara Larocca Albertelli, a cake artist and pastry chef will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, April 24. The class is $95 per person.
Other upcoming classes will include gourmet tips for the home cook, full of knife skills, sauces, pastries and how to properly cook salmon.
This summer, Harris will launch a three-part series for each month. The series will include a tour around India, German foods, as well as how to roll sushi.
"The people that will come to those classes are the people that live here year round. That is awesome because we need people to use this building year round," he said. "It's all about bringing people together to enjoy food."
Since Harris is a member of the American Culinary Federation, guests chefs will continue to make appearances.
"That is going to give us a lot of credibility. The American Culinary Federation is the largest culinary organization in the world. It is massive," he said. "Anything to do with culinary education you want them on your side because it does give you credibility because it is so big."
This summer, Harris will also release a cookbook, which he is really excited about putting together. He said a lot of the recipes they will start posting online for those who did not get them in class.
Visit www.sanibelcommunityhouse.net for a full listing of classes and demonstrations scheduled for the Culinary Education Center of Sanibel at the Community House. Registration can also be done online.
Harris advised those who are interested in the classes to sign up as soon as possible because they fill rather quickly.