Culinary Classes in North Carolina by Amanda Cushman
I am a culinary educator, food writer, private chef and consultant and have been in the food business for over thirty five years. My philosophy is to learn, grow, cook and enjoy, and I have had quite the journey in and out of the food business. Having grown up with a mother that was a gourmet cook, food has always been a large part of my life; a place of joy, comfort and nurturing.
I relocated to the Triangle in North Carolina in 20015 and I am enjoying what is known as the “best new food area on the East coast”. Every day I find opportunities to grow, evolve and contribute to the food community, whether it be writing an article for the News and Observer or teaching a class at Southern Season or most leading team building cooking classes for corporations.
After living in NYC, Miami and LA, I especially enjoy sharing my love and knowledge of world cuisine. Living in the South is fascinating for me with its folklore and rich culinary history. I especially enjoy the local food scene and watching it grow, to include young farmers, local cheesemakers and artisanal food producers.
I teach a wide range of public cooking classes in the Triangle as well as teaching privately for groups of two to twenty students in their home. My cooking classes are held in; Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Morrisville and Carrboro. My corporate team building classes have featured clients such as; Hugo Boss, Experian, Exxon Mobile, Google, Yahoo, Fitness Magazine, DirecTV, UNC and Toyota.
I started out cooking in a restaurant in Boston. My one and only task was to make popovers all day, every day (which was rather boring and repetitive). Luckily, I quickly rose to the position of line cook and found I hated every minute of it. I learned that restaurant work was not for me and moved from Boston to find my first love; NYC. Thankfully Manhattan was a better fit for me on every level, but especially in food business, where I worked with catering companies such as; Glorious Foods, Panhandlers and Martha Stewart. I became the lead chef for Panhandlers Catering where we cooked for parties of up to three hundred people, in homes, on boats, in fields, churches, alleyways; you name it, we did it. I had found my niche.
I attended Peter Kump’s NY Cooking School in the eighties, now known as ICE, as well as the Natural Gourmet Institute, where I learned traditional French techniques and vegan and vegetarian cooking skills. I was fortunate enough to teach at both schools for many years from the early nineties to early 2000.
Simultaneously I began in the test kitchen of Ladies Home Journal where I learned to develop and test recipes and remained there for over five years. I became an independent recipe developer and was hired by Food and Wine Magazine where I had the coveted job of cooking food all day long in a gorgeous test kitchen at which point I really upped my game in recipe development and food writing. This led to a career change; contributing stories for Ladies Home Journal, Cooking Light, Self, Fine Cooking, Time Life Cookbooks and Vegetarian Times. At this time I was also a private chef for the C.E.O. of American Express and the Editor of GQ magazine.
In the early nineties I was keenly interested in healthy, clean, organic food (way ahead of my time) and landed a job teaching at my alma mater; The Institute of Culinary Education formerly known as Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School. ICE, as it is now known, has become the best cooking school in the country with chefs teaching from all over the globe. Having taught there for seventeen years, I return to Manhattan occasionally for week long workshops on global cuisine. At that time I segued into teaching and taught the professional series at The Natural Gourmet Cooking School as well as at The New School-Culinary Arts Program.
In the mid- nineties NYC was at a low point and I felt the need to leave the city and relocated to Miami Beach. South Beach had not really happened yet and Miami was a slow paced, tropical town with a small food scene. I continued to teach, at places such as William Sonoma, Ariana’s Cooking School and the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. My classes took off and were featured as the best trend in the food business in Deco Drive Magazine as well as Florida Trend Magazine. A student (who turned out to be the food editor of the Miami Herald) featured my classes for the cover story in the food section of the Miami Herald which led to a booming private chef business. I continued to develop recipes for cookbooks as well as food magazines and web sites such as Foodfit.com, Minutemeals.com and the Time/Life Fitness Series.
Another move was in the works for personal reasons and in 2003 I relocated, to Santa Monica, California. This turned out to be my favorite chapter thus far. Teaching had become a solid part of my life and I loved bringing all the years of experience and food knowledge to the table. Paired with the beautiful and abundant ingredients available in Southern California, this was a natural fit. I found myself a wonderful kitchen in Culver City at Surfas kitchen supply and offered week long French technique classes as well as classes on Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and Moroccan food. I also taught at Let’s Get Cookin’, Epicurean and Williams Sonoma in Beverly Hills and Manhattan Beach. During this L.A. chapter I was featured on KCRW as well as the reality show; Blind Date and taught privately to numerous well known clients including: Neil Patrick Harris, Molly Sims, Anne Archer, Randy Newman and the contestants for Master Chef.
This is my time to give back and learn about another area of the rich food culture in America; the South. I look forward to expanding my career yet again with global pop up dinners, partnering with local brands to further their mission and teach private, public and corporate cooking with an emphasis on bringing people together over food.
Jenny Jay – KCRW/ Los Angeles