About a week ago, I treated myself to a gluten-free baking class at Southern Season, a popular gourmet food store, restaurant, and cooking school in Chapel Hill. The class title, Gluten Free: Southern Staples, intrigued this New Englander-turned-Southerner. Cornbread, hush puppies, biscuits, cheese straws, and a wine pairing were on the menu.
This course was advertised as hands on, so we spent only a few moments in our seats before we donned aprons and headed to the island to bake. (Side note: I have taken other Southern Season classes which were listed as demonstration classes; in those classes, we remained seated while we observed the chef’s preparation. No aprons needed!)
Take a look: everything is already prepped! Wouldn’t that make dinner at home a snap?
Our group of 14 students divided into four groups, and each group worked at a station. Our group started on cornbread:
We student received the recipes, and it didn’t take long to mix pre-measured ingredients. Our group worked among themselves to divide the tasks. The other groups were simultaneously preparing either cornbread or hush puppies. The set-up was pretty casual, however; therefore, we were able to move between stations to assist or to just observe. Later in the class, we formed into groups to prepare cheese straws and biscuits.
The instructor, Jane O’Hara, was very personable and knowledgeable–a great teacher. She moved among the stations to give guidance and answer questions; in addition to Jane, several staff members cleaned, got pans out of ovens, and served as general kitchen fairies. When I wasn’t stirring, I enjoyed chatting with other students about local gluten-free restaurants and shopping tips.
We did have the opportunity to sit, relax, and sample our work:
I enjoyed some of the recipes better than others; a benefit of a cooking class is sampling and then deciding what is worth the time and expense of replicating at home. I liked the hands on format of the class, because it allowed for more interaction among the group. The demonstration classes, on the other hand, are more like having a personal chef cook a special meal, narrating while preparing…which is a treat!
The two-hour class was $55. I had fun, and I learned some new techniques. Southern Season offers a variety of classes throughout the year. Instructors include cooking school staff, cookbook authors, or guest chefs. Please note that the kitchen is not dedicated gluten-free. Please ask questions before enrolling if you have dietary concerns.
201 S Estes Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514