As fun as it is to go out to a new restaurant and try cuisines from around the world, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to create a tasty feast at home, made with love — by you — for everyone to rave about?
Well, even if cooking’s not your thing, don’t cast aside your dreams of kitchen glory just yet. Thanks to Kelly Huddleston, owner and instructor at The Cookery, you can learn from someone who has traveled the world and can show you how to make authentic meals from countries as diverse as Italy and Thailand.
Dallas Design District: Tell us about your journey through the culinary world and how The Cookery came to be.
Kelly Huddleston: My initial love of cooking and food came from my mother. Growing up, she was always hosting exotic dinner parties for friends and family. I was always “employed” as her sous chef. Being introduced to so many different cuisines at such a young age sparked a desire in me to try new foods and to travel to experience even more foods in their country of origin.
I have learned how to make pasta in Orvieto, Italy, curry paste in Thailand, and even roast a pig in Kauai. Plus, I love to entertain. I started The Cookery to teach people how to cook the same way I learned - in an intimate setting where the focus was on creating a positive experience and sharing it with those around you. People everywhere gather to cook and enjoy each other’s company. This is what The Cookery offers.
DDD: What do you enjoy most about the Dallas Design District neighborhood?
KH: I have lived and worked in the Design District since October. I initially fell in love with the neighborhood due to the variety of businesses and that the area is growing and full of potential. It’s also the first place I’ve lived where I saw Sir Richard Branson riding a white horse practically in my backyard.
I love how many great breweries and restaurants are just a quick walk away. I also recently adopted a puppy and we really enjoy exploring the Trinity Strand Trail and jogging on Katy Trail.
DDD: What sets The Cookery apart from other local cooking schools/classes?
KH: Our studio space was designed to make you feel like you are cooking in a friend’s kitchen. We also strive to make each experience feel like a dinner party. Our classes are completely hands on – everyone works together to create a three or four course meal that is shared family style at our custom-built table.
Our goal is to create a safe environment to meet new people while sharing this unique culinary experience. Whether you are a more accomplished cook or know you have lots to learn, there is a place for you at our table.
DDD: Tell us about your process for coming up with the different classes and how you build menus for each class.
KH: I first think of a seasonal, regional or international theme that inspires me. Then I consider what could be locally sourced, is fresh and sustainable. I next experiment with which dishes pair best together, plus assure teachable moments and what will create a delicious and enjoyable dinner party.
The most important thing I always try to remember is that while everyone can read a recipe, they cannot necessarily learn how to cook from one. We teach people through hands-on experience and every menu is created to instill confidence.
DDD: How often are classes and/or menus repeated? How often are new classes and/or menus introduced?
KH: Our class schedules are often designed based upon what’s in season. On average, we introduce two to three new class menus every month, and at most repeat a class only two times within the same month.
We also host private classes for working groups, birthdays, bridal or baby showers, or other special occasions.
DDD: Do you have a favorite class or menu to teach?
KH: My most recent international travel was to Thailand. I love Thai cuisine because many of the country’s dishes completely impact your palate. The dishes are sweet, sour, bitter, salty, have umami, and are often spicy. I especially love spicy.
When creating our Bahn Thai class, it was hard to narrow down the menu because there are so many fantastic dishes. I am developing two Thai classes each dedicated to the different dishes of northern and southern Thailand.
DDD: What are people generally most surprised to learn during a cooking class?
KH: That they can COOK! Most people look at cooking as this overwhelming task and step into a kitchen intimidated. That is exactly why we do not use recipes in class, but instead provide them the next day.
We show people how to cook and also guide them to understand how to balance flavors and season dishes. They can then approach preparing a meal with a new level of confidence.
DDD: Which current food fad is your favorite?
KH: Perhaps it’s more than a fad – I think people want to return to the kitchen and make delicious meals to share with others.
DDD: In your opinion, what food trends can foodies look forward to this year?
KH: I think we are seeing a shift in the way people eat. I believe that people are craving a healthier more sustainable way of eating, plus they want to know where their food comes from. People also want to prepare restaurant quality meals at home – DIY. Hello 2017.
DDD: Finish the sentence: “Every cooking class should be...”
KH: Fun and deliciously memorable.
Even if you think you're all thumbs in the kitchen, or if you've dabbled but are ready to take your skills to the next level, the instructors at The Cookery are ready to teach you what you need to know. Soon you'll have friends and family begging for invites to your next dinner party.