Culinary Program

“Cooking Along the Crooked Road” classes offer children, teens and adults  hands-on, creative experiences that can transform mere nourishment into culinary adventures. Students of all ages acquire valuable life-long skills, taught by local chefs and other accomplished, imaginative cooks. From healthy lifestyle cooking and a variety ethnic culinary classes to bread and pastry making and special youth classes, there is something for everyone in the warmth of the teaching kitchen!

2017 COOKING CLASSES-All Classes 6-9pm/$35 unless otherwise noted.

January 21, 2017 – the Best of Brunch with Matt Henry register

Winter is a wonderful time to set up a brunch for friends or family. Matt Henry will bring his creative talent to the kitchen as he shows how to plan a brunch for any sized group. The class will work together to prepare many of his most favorite and comforting brunch foods….from smoothies to creative egg dishes and casseroles to warm brandied fruit and sweet baked goodies, Enjoy the warmth of the teaching kitchen on a Saturday morning as you prepare and enjoy a delicious brunch with Chef Matt!

January 21, 2017 – Chili Warm-Up Saturday with Matt Shy register

During this hands-on class, Matt Shy of Mellow Mushroom will share his extreme passion for cooking along with his chili madness! With the cold weather of January at hand, you can warm up your kitchen and your family with some great new chili recipes! Matt will keep you warm with his ultimate spicy chili, an amazing white chili and a unique and delicious grilled veggie chili. Spice up your Saturday and join us in the warmth of the teaching kitchen!

January 30, 2017 – Super Bowl Entertaining with Pzazz~Chef John Seymore, Mojo’s Trailside Cafe register

Are you tired of serving the same unhealthy Super Bowl snacks out of a bag or pizza box? Chef John Seymore, owner of Mojo’s Trailside Café will demonstrate how simple it is to create unique, delicious appetizers and snacks that will make your guests cheer! With Chef John’s Super Bowl class, there is sure to be a touchdown and your party will always be the winner!


February 10, 2017 – At the Movies with the Seinfeld Soup Nazi: A Special Meet and Greet! register

Meet Larry Thomas, The Soup Nazi for an up close and personal event on February 10. Enjoy some of Larry’s favorite appetizers straight from his Cookbook and prepared by local chefs… as well as assorted beverages and of course gourmet popcorn. Larry will show several of his most recent short films as well as his favorite full length feature for those who wish to stay and enjoy an evening at the movies! He will discuss his fascinating life as an actor and talk about the many movies he has made this past year with a Q and A session. Cookbooks will be available for purchase. Tickets are limited and also include a ticket to the Great Winter Soup Cook off on February 11, 2017. ($10.00 value) and an autographed photo.

Join us for this special fundraiser meet and greet to benefit the SW VA Higher Education Center’s programs, classes and events.

February 11, 2017 – 4th Annual Great Winter Soup Cook-Off with the Soup Nazi! register

The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center is pleased to welcome back by popular demand, Larry Thomas, the actor who portrayed the infamous Soup Nazi in the Seinfeld series. Thomas will once again be a celebrity guest for the 4th annual Great Winter Soup Cook Off on February 11. 2017.  This soul-warming community event benefits the educational programs at HEC.   His “No Soup For You!” bark became one of the most famous catchphrases of all times and earned him an Emmy nomination and a permanent place in pop culture. Thomas’s role in one of the most memorable episodes in the series became an overnight success. This all-time favorite spotlighted The Soup Nazi and the long lines of customers at his restaurant. In order to get to try his addicting soups, patrons had to play by his strict rules or he would yell out “No Soup for You” and throw them out of the store. Thomas will be available for autographs and his cook books, signed ladles and NO SOUP FOR YOU T Shirts will be available for Ticket price allows ten (10) tastings, personal embossed tasting spoon and admission to cafe and classes plus door prize registrations and Best in Show vote.


February 25, 2017 – Cajun Magic in the Kitchen: Celebrating Mardi Gras with Ellen Delatte register

Native Louisiana cook, Ellen Delatte will be back in the teaching kitchen to amaze you with her Cajun magic. Join in making some of her special family recipes for an extraordinary Mardi Gras lunch! Learn about all of the spices and ingredients that make Cajun cuisine so unique. As a grand finale, the class will bake a traditional Mardi Gras King Cake! Ellen will delight students with tales of growing up in Louisiana, touching on culture, traditions and of course, great recipe just in time for 2017 Mardi Gras! She always manages to surprise her class with festive decorations or comes to class sporting green and purple hair! “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” ….which means let the good times roll!

March 6, 2017 – Moroccan Cooking: Exotic Blend of Global Influences register

Moroccan dishes are very important in the culinary world due to the melting pot of influences that created this mysterious blend of tastes. Many cultures brought their additions to Moroccan dishes beginning with early immigrants and colonizers. From the Berbers who were the first inhabitants to Arabs, Jewish Moors and French—all left behind their own culinary stamps on the cooking culture. Matt Henry has developed a keen interest in Moroccan cooking and will share some of his knowledge and recipes during this eduational class as he touches on what makes this country’s food so unique and so special. As the Moroccan’s say, “A handful of couscous is better than Mecca and all its dust.”

March 13, 2017 – Irish Cookery with Sheridan Nice register

Irish food is known for the quality and freshness of its ingredients. Most cooking is done without herbs or spices, except for salt and pepper. The staples of the Irish diet have traditionally been potatoes, grains (especially oats), cabbage and dairy products.

Soups of all types play important roles in the Irish diet. Irish soups are thick, hearty, and filling, with potatoes, seafood, and various meats being common ingredients. frequently at Irish meals. Irish stew has been recognized as the national dish for at least two centuries.

Join Sheridan Nice of Mona Lisa’s for a look at the Traditional Irish meal with a few twists. Well known for her soups and stews, Sheridan will lead the class as they prepare a St. Patrick’s Day feast using some of her favorite Irish recipes. With the luck of the Irish, you will be able to secure a spot in this special class!

March 20, 2017 – Authentic Vegetarian Cuisine of India with Bindu Rajan register

Bindu Rajan will be back by popular demand with another of her Indian Cooking Classes which will feature authentic vegetarian cuisine as the class prepares a meal together. Starting with the classic Spinach Pakora( Palak Pakoda) as an appetizer, the class will continue to explore and learn about many of the traditional vegetarian dishes that are popular in India and will prepapre Chappati ( Indian Flat Bread) with Vegetable Kuruma for the main course during the class. The meal will be complete with the class preparing Indian Fresh Fruit Creme. Bindu will discuss her native country’s culture and cuisine and share a cup of special Chai with students!

March 27, 2017 – Traditional and Creative Filipino Cuisine with Hazel Ramos-Cano  register

Filipino Cuisine has recently risen to the forefront in the culinary world. Bad Saint, an outstanding restaurant in Washington, DC, was ranked as one of the top ten restaurants in the country in 2016 by Bon Appetit. This outstanding restaurant serves traditional and creative Filipino food. Hazel Ramos-Cano, a native Filipinian will lead the class in exploring the evolutionary process of Filipino cuisine through centuries of colonization, Eastern trades and westernization which this indigenous Malayo-Polynesian country of over 8,000 islands has gone throughand currently reflects. Hazel will share some of her favorite recipes which make her native cuisine so unique and delicious.

April 3, 2017 – Cooking from the French Countryside with Abigail Hutchinson  register

Abigail Hutchinson, executive chef at the The Olde Farm Golf Club will be teaching her first class with us this spring. Chef Hutchinson also teaches part time at the UT Culinary School and former positions include Biltmore Estates, The Jekyll Island Club and The Ocean Club of Amelia Island.

April 10, 2017 – Antipasto, A Long Italian Tradition with Susan Lachmann  register

Antipasto is the famous Italian tradition of having small bites of delicious and beautiful food before the meal. The literal meaning is “before the meal” and it was introduced in early Italian history to stimulate the appetite before the main course. The Italians love nothing more than sitting down with good friends and good conversation before the meal. In today’s culinary world, antipasto has come to mean small bites that can be served at dinner, tailgate events, cocktail parties or any place where people gather to savor great food and great company!

Susan will share many traditional and new antipasto ideas, including proper marinades, how to blend flavors, aromas and colors to making the pleasing plates. She will also discuss bread and cheese selections as well ideas for presenting meats, vegetables and fruits which the class will prepare to together for the perfect antipasto plates!

April 24, 2017 – Springtime Cooking with the Big Green Egg  register

“ The Big Green Egg stands alone as the highest quality and most versatile outdoor cooking product available today.” Grill, bake , barbeque, roast, smoke and even make pizza as you learn all about this perfect cooking system. Back by popular demand, Becky Nelms and Mick Foran of Alfresco Lifestyles will be lead the class in a night of cooking on The Big Green Egg. The class will prepare and cook together some of her outstanding dishes and enjoy taking home some fabulous recipes just in time for springtime eating! Come and experience first -hand the amazing tastes and rewarding health benefits reaped from this phenomenal year-round cooker.

May 1, 2017 – Small Bites for Spring Celebrations with Susie Buckner  register

Spring is the season of new beginnings, and with that, come celebrations; Tea parties, Wedding Showers, Derby Parties, Graduations, and Cinco de Mayo festivals. This class will show you how to prepare beautiful and simple “Small Bites”, guaranteed to wow your guests. Most of the recipes can be made in advance or frozen, leaving the hostess with plenty of time for what matters most… your guests! After making the recipes, you will learn how to create a beautiful tablescape to showcase your food. Join us for hands on instruction and come for a fun, informative evening with Susie Buckner.

May 8, 2017 – Sushi Fun with the Tavern Chefs  register

Join the chefs from The Tavern for some sushi fun! More info to come soon about this unique, educational culinary experience.

May 15, 2017 – Perfect Pairings with Matt Henry  register

Planning a get-together with friends or a large party is never easy when it comes to choosing what wines to serve with your appetizers. Wine is the second most important element at such events and Matt Henry will be here to lead an instructional demonstration and tasting which will introduce some fail-proof wines that always pair well with a stellar assortment of appetizers.
Take home some new recipes that are sure to impress at your next gathering and go home feeling confident about the wines you choose to accompany them! Don’t miss this exciting new class with Chef Henry.


May 22, 2017 – Patio Daddy-O! Grill Master Meat and Brew Pairing with Matt Shy  register

The summer months are just ahead and grill master Matt Shy is offering this unique class on the patio at higher Ed! Learn about proper cuts of meat for the grill with marinades and sauces that can be used to enhance poultry, beef, pork and seafood. We will have a beer expert from Blue Ridge Beverage on hand to discuss and provide samples of beer and ale that would be a perfect pairings for each of Matt’s recipes.. A great way to end our spring classes with a fabulous meal on the patio!

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