When stepping into Linda Bell’s TheCulinary Classroom, the first thing you’ll notice won’t be anything visual. I mean, there is a gorgeous island (more like a cooking runway), freshly cut flowers, cucumber water and a plate of cheese and crackers. And, let’s not overlook the rustic farm table laid out with the evening’s course work and neatly folded aprons.
But, it’s the scent that will seduce you. Let’s call it the culinary classroom experience.
You don’t need to be a kitchen queen to know there is some kind of magic happening in this space. The scent may unconsciously remind you of your grandmother’s kitchen. It reminded me of my aunt’s kitchen where recipes were spun with tedious attention to detail . . . a gift to a table full of family and an experience to be savored.
I knew, in deep breath, what was about to happen in the Culinary Classroom was going to be exceptional and memorable.
With so many cooking classes popping up it’s Linda’s training, roots in tradition, commitment to whole foods and teaching experience that makes her style unique. As fellow students Bonnie and Chad Zerbe noted: “It takes a wonderful educator to balance the complexities of cooking while making it approachable to the home cook.”
A classroom approach is what you’ll get. Down to the well-prepared packet of recipes, which open right up to a pop-quiz. Yup, a pop quiz! What a perfect way to assess your skill level and to engage you in a way you are sure to learn something new.
You’ll walk away from the class feeling like Linda’s long-time friend Michele Masley, who said she gained “important organizational skills that make the process so much easier. It’s just an overall sense of accomplishment.” Or maybe you’ll relate to Maria Walker, who found the hands-on work with recipes easy enough for the home cook where “the best part was sitting down and enjoying a great dinner with wonderful people.”
According to Linda, “our lives are so fast-paced, we need to make time to appreciate food of good quality and learn how to prepare it! If I can help people start to live this day-to-day, I feel that I am doing what I am meant to do!”
Linda peppered her instruction with her family’s regional style of cooking. (In case you didn’t know, all Italian cooking is not equal. Don’t believe me? Just ask your 1st or 2nd generation Italian friend or neighbor.)
Prior to class Michele reminisced about Linda’s journey.
“Linda would always talk of her wish to see everyone enjoying themselves as she cooked, trying new recipes and sharing her home with others. Fortunately for all of us who have been to one of her classes, she lived her dream.”
Michele’s story created my expectation for the evening and made me a bit curious about how it all began for Linda.
Linda’s 36-year career as a certified Reading Specialist was center stage until retirement. Her love of learning and growth is so strong that recreating a new self has been nothing but exciting and rewarding.
So that she could teach she went to the best teachers to learn . . . another ‘character dish’ she brings to the table in addition to her passion. Linda may tell you the secret of her culinary success is her Italian heritage or travels to Italy but I think it’s more than that . . . her enthusiasm fuels her search for excellence. For the past three years she has been refining her skills through classes at The Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan.
Even though her first career in teaching has concluded, Linda still teaches . . . she just sports an apron now. The courage to take a leap and redefine who we are at any stage in our career is inspiring. Linda’s passion about ingredients and tried-and-true methods is unmistakable in her classes. The tantalizing scents, laughter, personalized instructions, new friendships are all part of Linda’s culinary classroom success.
So, roll up your sleeves, tie on an apron and find the confidence to join the experience by walking through dishes you may never have otherwise endeavored. Might I add, you’ll find yourself in the company of singles, couples, men, women, novice and well-seasoned cooks. The kitchen confidence you’ll gain is directly related to Linda’s instructional skills. And, who knows, you may also get a chance to meet her husband, Michael Bell, who adds his own flavor when time permits.
I’ll be going back. Maybe we’ll see each other!