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Cooking up Fun

Bravo! head chef Shawn Hagen advises students on their preparation.
Local classes offer new culinary opportunities

Looking for a new hobby, an outlet to flex your culinary prowess or something different for dates, corporate events or outings with friends? Take a cooking class.

Many culinary class options exist in Kalamazoo, from learning cooking techniques or favorite recipes of local chefs to niche cooking classes at local grocers or group courses taught by chefs in a variety of areas.

Who are cooking classes for? Anyone, says Shawn Hagen, head chef and owner of Bravo! Restaurant and Café, 5402 Portage Road.

“We get all different demographics, from young and old,” Hagen says. “Some people want to come and learn the recipes to reproduce verbatim, some want to get creative ideas, and some just want to come for entertainment and don’t even take the copy of the recipes home with them.”

Cooking classes are a good place to have icebreaker events or get to know new friends or love interests, Hagen says.

“We’ve even had people meet at our classes, get to know each other, and come back together again but this time married,” he says.

Want to get a little culinary education yourself? Check out some of these local options:


Cook with Hagen in hands-on classes meant for anyone from novice to expert. Bravo! offers five types of classes a year, and each class runs for two sessions. At the end of each class, participants receive a recipe packet so they are able to replicate the dishes at home.

Bravo!’s next available class is Cooking with Wine and Spirits on Sept. 15 and 16. Participants will learn to pair wines with food and bring a depth of flavor to dishes.

Classes run from 7–9 p.m. and cost $65 per person. Register by phone at 344-7700.

Food Dance

Food Dance, at 401 E. Michigan Ave., offers classes from creative cupcake making to a Fire and Sky Grilling Class. The one-evening grilling class is set for 6:30–8:30 p.m. June 9, 10 and 11 on the rooftop of the Food Dance building, although the June 11 session is sold out. During this class, items are cooked over a wood-fired grill while Food Dance chefs demonstrate charcoal- and wood-grilling techniques.

“I would say our classes target a wide range of guests,” says Michelle Miller, marketing and events coordinator at Food Dance. “A lot of our corporate customers have large groups that attend classes or have private ones, and we also have many of our regular guests that attend — people who are interested in food, in cooking and even just doing something fun with a friend for an evening out.”

Check upcoming class schedules at The cost for a class averages about $75; online registration is available, or call 382-1888.

Kurry Guru

For an intimate cooking class experience, sign up to learn with Kurry Guru’s chef, Anja Patel. Kurry Guru is a gourmet foods company that provides ready-to-eat Indian vegetarian dishes and sides available for purchase at D&W, the People’s Food Co-op, Sawall Foods and the cafes at Bronson Hospital and Western Michigan University.

“My most popular class is Back to Basic: Curry Making 101,” Patel says. “This class teaches how to make a curry base from scratch, and from that base I make three curries.”
Patel says her classes average about 10 people, run about two to two-and-a-half hours and have a buffet-style dinner at the end. Each student receives cooking tips, shopping guides and recipes. Because space is limited, Kurry Guru classes don’t involve hands-on cooking, but participants help Patel prepare the family-style dinner by chopping or stirring.

Kurry Guru offers two classes a month, held at the Kurry Guru kitchen, 2333 Helen Ave., Portage.

Pacific Rim

Xin Liu, co-owner of Pacific Rim Foods, offers monthly classes at the Oakwood Neighborhood Association (3320 Laird Ave.) that specialize in Liu’s area of expertise — Asian cooking. Lui’s classes so far this year have focused on dumplings, gluten-free Asian cooking and Korean BBQ. In addition to the classes offered by Pacific Rim Foods, Liu offers private classes for groups, friends and families who want to learn new skills in the kitchen.

Most classes cost $25 to $30 and are offered at the Oakwood Neighborhood Association. For a detailed schedule, find Pacific Rim Foods on Facebook.

People’s Co-op/Can-Do Kitchen

Making a curry spice mixture, creating delicious paleo snacks and replicating People’s Co-op’s in-house treats have been topics of cooking classes hosted by the People’s Food Co-op in its Can-Do Kitchen, 511 Harrison St.

The classes are offered every two or three months, are taught by Can-Do Kitchen or People’s Co-op experts, and focus on a variety of styles and techniques.

Most classes cost $20 a person. Register and find upcoming class information at

Natural Health Food Center

Whether you’re gluten-intolerant, have celiac disease or are just cutting down on processed wheats, certified health coach Vicky Mitchell offers gluten-free cooking classes at the Natural Health Food Center, 4610 W. Main St., to inspire new ideas and help participants hone skills.

Classes cost $5 and take place one Saturday a month at the food center, usually from 10–11:30 a.m. For more information or to view a calendar of classes, visit


For a hands-on cooking class that offers insight into fine Italian cooking, Zazios, 100 W. Michigan Ave., offers afternoon cooking classes with Chef John Korycki. Each class teaches different cooking techniques and ingredients while focusing on seasonal foods that reflect the Chef’s Table menu at the restaurant.

Each class lasts four to four-and-a-half hours, allowing for a leisurely paced educational cooking experience. Upcoming classes are scheduled for June 20, July 18 and Aug. 15, and Zazios is looking to add a kids’ cooking class, a pasta cooking class and a grilling class this summer, too.

The cost of classes is $75 per person plus tax and gratuity.

Encore Magazine

Encore Magazine is Southwest Michigan’s Magazine, bringing readers intriguing images and stories of the good things, good works and great people of our corner of the mitten. Published 12 times a year, Encore in its fifth decade of serving Southwest Michigan, carrying on a historic tradition of being the premier lifestyle publication of the greater Kalamazoo area.

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