Strawberries & Blueberries
Laura Stec - Innovative Cuisine
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Class Descriptions

Healthy Cooking Classes

Fashioned after Laura's work with Kaiser Permanente's HealthWorks (corporate wellness program), these one-hour classes are perfect for an office setting. One or more dishes, designed to highlight the foods of the season, are prepared in class. Recipes and food samples are included. Classes can be designed to fit individual requests. Chef Stec can also team with Dalia Perelman (MS, RD, CDE) for a 1.5-hour presentation that offers both a chef's and nutritionist's perspective on the class topic (additional teaching fee applies). Popular topics include:

Easy Cuisine - Quick Cooking for Optimal Health
No time to cook? Learn tips that cut down on prep time spent in the kitchen. Topics include: Learn techniques, not recipes, How to sharpen your knife, "Quick-cut" vegetables, the Condiment Plate, and Setting up your kitchen for success.
Higher Flavor, Lower Fat
Why do Americans eat twice the amount of salt we should? Is eating fat good or bad for us? We discuss these questions as we learn how to reduce our salt intake and use fat to our advantage in cooking. These tips and tricks can season your food, yet slim your waist. Topics include: Full flavor-flavoring agents, Make your own sauce, Cooking technique that enhance umami.
Eat More Vegetables!
Why don't we eat more vegetables? Because most of us don't cook to bring out their secrets! Everyone, including children, will enjoy eating more vegetables if they are prepared and seasoned for success! Topics include: Why to keep water as far away from vegetables as possible, the energetics of foods, shopping and storage, and Three Easy Techniques that will turn you and yours into voracious vegetable eaters!
Great Grains
Whole grains make up the base of the USDA food pyramid, but how do we cook and season them? Learn five basic cooking techniques, taste different types of grains, and discover the Condiment Plate (salt and pepper with a college education!).
Healthy Grilling Party
This outdoor class teaches quick tips to add to your grilling mastery! Learn healthy grilling options, how to grill the "unexpected," and The Best Marinade Ever! Class requires an onsite grill.
Home for the Holidays - Cooking Appetizers or Side Dishes
How many holiday parties have you left feeling bloated and overloaded? Learn appetizers or side dishes that can liven up the festivities and the flavor while balancing out the health. A handout will address party and menu planning, table display, appetizer absolutes, and time-saving tips.
Guys in the Kitchen - Knives, Dudes and Game Foods
This modern-day charcuterie tasting plus knife handling class is perfect for men, but fine for ladies too! While munching on an easy platter guys can make for the Big Game (no cooking required), we'll learn tips about the kitchen's most important tool and how to keep them sharp.
Farm to Fork with the Seasons
What's all this talk about seasonal eating?  Is it really healthier or better tasting? Isn't it more expensive? We'll discuss these and topics such as: Vegetable and meat CSA's, shopping at farmers markets, the "Dirty Dozen and Clean 15," and visiting farms near you. In class, we choose a recipe to highlight the best of what's in season.

Technique Classes

These one-hour classes hone specific kitchen skills.

Spice it Up! - The Art of Seasoning
Enhance your favorite dishes with herbs and spices, which add distinctive flavor and enticing fragrance. Laura teaches the fundamentals of spices, including the best way to maintain freshness and how to combine seasonings to create new and exciting blends. Take your cooking to a whole new level by learning how to season foods correctly with aromatic spices.
Lessons in Dairy
This class covers the basics of dairy—from assembling an artisan cheese platter to preparing homemade herb butters and sweet spreads. We'll discuss organic vs. nonorganic dairy, plus how and why to support small family dairies. You'll learn how to make fresh ricotta, which is delicious slathered on bruschetta and topped with seasonal offerings. Laura also demos simple additions that make whipped cream into something even more decadent!
Knife Skills and Sharpening
A sharp knife is the most important tool in the kitchen. You'll learn how to slice, dice, chop, and make advanced cuts, including chiffonade and julienne. We'll also discuss the ABC's of proper knife handling and care.

Tasting Classes

Who doesn't love good food and good stories? Experience a taste comparison of specialty foods and learn the story behind the products sampled. This is a great way to deepen your understanding of the foods you like and why you like them. Classes run 1-2 hours.

Taste Your Way Thru the Book! A Cool Cuisine
While chatting about the topics featured in Cool Cuisine - Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming, we prepare and taste recipes from Laura's book, plus learn cooking tips and "the stories behind the food." Menu includes:
  • Taste of California Artisan Cheese and Vegetable Platter, highlighting bee pollinators
  • Grass-fed Beef Crostini with Arugula, Local Dry Jack, and Green Peppercorn
  • Palette Cleanser - Honey Sparkler
  • Popping Chocolate Gomasio over High Vibe Ice Cream
  • Green Drinks and Laura's "Red, White, or Green?" wine list.
Tour California - Artisan Cheese and Red, White, or Green? Wine Tastings
Let's go on a virtual tour of the sunshine state and visit her artisan cheese makers and sustainable vineyards. We'll taste samples of their work and learn their remarkable stories. We'll also discuss how to plan your own visits to food producers—a perfect way to add an exciting, new dimension to any road trip.
Brats, Beer, and Bread - The Best of the Bay Area
Taste delicious samples from San Francisco area breweries, bakeries, and charcuterie makers. Learn where to purchase products and how to create the ultimate charcuterie platter for your next party! This class requires additional travel time to San Francisco for the taste treat pickup.
Red Wine with Chocolate - Deep, Dark, and Dirty!
Dark and rich is how I like it—whether we are talking chocolate or wine. This class pairs California reds with a variety of chocolates. We discuss how to taste chocolate and wine and where to get the best products, including eco-friendly sweets and wines from sustainable vineyards.
Port, Cheese, and Chocolate
All three at once? Absolutely! We'll try three different pairings that will make you an instant fan. So delicious (and easy) you'll want to invite your friends over and host this class in your own home!

Class Details

  1. Cooking classes include demo and tasting of at least one dish. Additional recipes can be added, though this may increase overall budget.
  2. Laura can bring in a portable, one-burner butane stove (depending on menu). This stove is designed for INDOOR use only. No smoke is created. If the class is outdoors, we can use an onsite grill, rent a grill, or design the menu so no stove is needed.
  3. Invoice will be sent after the class.

Class Needs

  1. One or two 8ft tables, preferably placed in the "middle" of the room or located so the majority of students can be as close to the demo area as possible.
  2. A rolling cart (nice, but not necessary) to move things from parking lot to classroom.
  3. An approximate student count before the class, and the number of dishes / recipes you would like to prepare.

Weekend Seminar
Cool Cuisine: Exploring Culinary Art, Science and Artisan Foods

Join chef Laura Stec and Dr. Eugene Cordero, authors of Cool Cuisine - Taking the Bite out of Global Warming, along with select researchers, farmers or food artisans interviewed in the book, for a culinary vacation weekend seasoned with a little global science

Schedule At-A-Glance

Friday: A welcome "green" wine happy hour with presentation by co-author Dr. Eugene Cordero on The Global Warming Diet:  Food Climate Connections.

Sat morning: Farm-fresh, hands-on cooking class where students prepare lunch with chef Stec

Sat afternoon: Local farm tour

Sat dinner: Local organic fare prepared on site.

Sat evening presentation: Cool Cuisine - Taking the Bite out of Global Warming, with food tastings and guest appearances from folks interviewed in the book. Travel restrictions may require substitution of local farmers or food artisans.

Sun morning: Artisan cheese and local honey pairing class, combining lecture and tasting of fruit and vegetables highlighting bee pollinator crops.