While I don’t consider myself to be a good cook, I actually enjoy learning about it, even though I don’t do it much at home. When I found out that the Derby Recreation Commission offers cooking classes, I decided to look more into it and give it a try.
The classes are held inside the Hubbard Arts Center at 309 N. Woodlawn (Derby) in a culinary kitchen called The Kitchen. They have all sorts of classes ranging from different cuisines and pastries. I signed up for a Cajun and Creole Cookery class that advertised showing students how to make jambalaya, cornbread and beignets. It was a two-hour class that cost $35; not bad for a day of learning that came with a meal you prepared yourself.
Here’s how it went.
Cajun and Creole Cooking Class at the Derby Recreation Commission
First off, I should note that the culinary kitchen they have is very nice. I loved the open layout they had, which was very conducive for small groups. There was a pantry behind the kitchen area along with storage for all the utensils, pots, pans, etc., and many sinks for cleaning dishes and washing hands.
The class had six people and we were split into groups of three to learn the basics and also prepare the three dishes.
This was definitely the most hands-on class I’ve attended. We were in charge of gathering all the supplies, most of the ingredients, clean-up, you name it. I really liked it that way as it resembles a home scenario. Our instructor, Angelika, was there every step of the way for any questions and helping with anything we needed.
I was paired with a mother/son duo and we all split the tasks involved of cutting the chicken, sausages, vegetables, cooking over the stove, mixing in the ingredients. It was a good way for us to save time.
And no cooking class would be complete without me messing up at least one time. I was getting all the seasonings and spices measured and placed into a dish for mixing. I mixed up the cayenne and Italian seasoning. It called for a 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne and a full tablespoon of Italian seasoning. For whatever dumb reason, I had it backwards and put far too much cayenne. I told my group and tried to get the extra cayenne taken out.
When the jambalaya was finished, the mother next to me took a bite and immediately commented on how spicy it was and that it was already making her sweat. I felt soooo incredibly bad and played the role of waterboy whenever water was needed. On the bright side, everyone loved the jambalaya, aside from how spicy it was. I thought it was excellent and the best jambalaya I’ve ever made (granted, the bar was already set really low).
While the jambalaya was cooking, we also worked as a team on the cornbread. It was a simpler process and didn’t involve as many ingredients or instructions. That was right up my alley.
The finished product was also tasty. It was moist, had a magnificent aroma to it, and so soft. You could taste a bit of the vanilla extract that was used. It was a bit sweeter, which I didn’t mind at all.
Unfortunately, we were running out of time and didn’t get to make beignets, which I’ll admit was very disappointing to me. It was probably the dish I was looking forward to making the most. It’s something I’ve never tried at home, but would have loved to do in a class setting.
Other than that, I had a great time. I really loved how hands-on and interactive the class was. Working together in groups made it fun. Everyone was pretty engaging, and that added to the experience of the cooking class. I would certainly attend a class there again in the future.
To learn more about the classes offered, visit their website. They have classes for youth and adults, so people of all ages can participate.
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