Northwestern Michigan College adds 13 new culinary offerings

Collection of one-day cooking classes typically offered in the evening

By Sarah Elms
Traverse City Record-Eagle

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Cooking isn't scary.

That's what culinary instructors at Northwestern Michigan College want their students to learn by the time they leave class.

"It's so much more accessible than people think," instructor Laura McCain told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. "It's really about having a joy. You have to have a joy in your food."

McCain is a registered dietitian and chef who works for Munson Medical Center and teaches culinary classes through NMC's extended education program. College officials rolled out their latest collection of one-day cooking classes and McCain is teaching at least one of this semester's 34 offerings.

The classes are typically offered in the evening and last three hours. Small class size - 16 students maximum - personalizes instruction for cooking novices and experts.

Traverse City resident Rick Stein describes himself as "just a backyard barbecue guy." He signed up for NMC's BBQ Boot Camp class to learn a few more tricks about dry rubs, brines, sauces and sides, and he left feeling more confident about his barbecue techniques.

"It's pretty hands-on and one-on-one, so you can really pick up some additional skills," he said. "It's fun, and we learn something. They're skills I can use."

Class topics range from ethnic foods to healthy cooking to baking, and instructors are always adding new flavors to the mix. The key to the program's success is its hands-on approach.

"You can learn a certain amount by watching on YouTube or reading cook books," McCain said. "But the thing they get out of a cooking class is they see it, they smell it and they taste it."

NMC's Hagerty Center Executive Chef Cole Thornton's hope is to empower the everyday at-home cook to take risks in the kitchen and to have fun while doing it. He wants to spark a passion in people about cooking through the one-day classes and give them the confidence to recreate at home what they learned in the classroom.

"I think that's really important, especially this day in age," Thornton said. "So many people are eating fast food or eating unhealthy. I think it's important for people to get out there and take these classes and get inspired to cook at home and see how easy it is."

NMC provides all the ingredients and cooking tools needed for each class, but NMC program coordinator Julie Doyal suggests participants bring along one key supply: to-go containers.

"Sometimes you get to take some home to sample and share with your family," she said.

Published: Tue, Oct 06, 2015