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Delaware cooking classes target hobbyists and future chefs alike

December 1, 2017

Those who ply their trade in the business of eating here at the beach have figured out all sorts of ways to keep the lights on after the vacationers flee. Other than half-price martini nights, 2fers and BOGOs, one surefire way to attract customers is with cooking classes. Food TV has generated a wave of interest in professional techniques, and a few extra bucks in the till can't hurt, especially after our spectacular fall weather gives way to true winter.

There's no doubt that Norman and Eric Sugrue know something about running an eatery. After all, an in-season weekend seat at Salt Air, Big Fish Grill and Summer House can be a hot ticket. As of this writing, Norman will share the secrets behind the Big Fish Grill and Summer House menus 11 more times over the 2017-18 off-season. Classes are $85, and the three-hour culinary adventure includes an enlightening tour of Big Fish Wholesale Seafood and hands-on demos of entrée and dessert preparation. Click "classes" at www.bigfishgrill.com.

If you like combining fun with culinary enlightenment, then the Taste & Learn Chef Series held by Spice & Tea Exchange might be just the thing for you. The festivities begin Jan. 15 when Blackwall Hitch Executive Chef Chip Miller takes to the stage to reveal some of the contents of his culinary trick bag. About every two weeks thereafter, interactive demonstrations will include Zach Dick from the new incarnation of Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, DiFebo's chef/owner Lisa DiFebo Osias (where does she get all that energy!?), Blue Moon chief toque Lion Gardner, Burley Café owners Tony Lanuza and Chris Poeschl (aka the Brooklyn Baking Barons), a(MUSE.) boss Hari Cameron, Norman Sugrue and Joe Lopez from Big Fish Restaurant Group, and new kid in town Raghu Kumar from Indigo Indian Restaurant in Rehoboth. A single event costs $50 per person. Just call the store at 302-227-3327 to secure your seat.

Are you feeling a bit more serious about learning the culinary arts? Delaware Technical Community College in Dover is well known for teaching new and innovative trends in the food service industry. Classes offer a combination of lecture and hands-on cooking with a focus on baking/pastry, executive/sous chef duties, food service management, kitchen management and cooking on the line. The program is headed up by none other than celebrated Chef Ed Hennessy. Interested? Email Chef Ed at hennessy@dtcc.edu.

High school students in Delaware are lucky to have the resources of the Delaware Restaurant Association on their side. Currently offered as a credit elective at 18 Delaware high schools, the ProStart program is a nationwide, two-year industry-written curriculum for high school students. It is designed to teach culinary and management skills needed for a career in the restaurant and food-service industry. Successful ProStart students earn valuable certifications, including the required ServSafe certification, and perform 400 hours of paid work experience in area restaurants and food service establishments.

Even better news is that there are resources available for these graduates to further their education at Delaware Technical Community College (the SEED program) and go even further through an arrangement between Del Tech and Johnson & Wales University. High school graduates who excel in the ProStart program are also eligible to apply for the RehobothFoodie.com/Touch of Italy Culinary Scholarship that pays up to $5000 in tuition for students who move on to accredited culinary institutions.

So whether you're a high schooler dreaming of slingin' hash in your favorite restaurant, or just want to learn how to make a decent béchamel, it's never too late to discover something new. So grab your credit card, your favorite apron and learn to do it like the big kids do it. Your dinner guests (and maybe even your future restaurant patrons) will thank you.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at byesbek@capegazette.com.

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.