We travel with our tastebuds all the time. Close your eyes with a mouthful of gelato and you are instantly transported to that stroll through Rome. In the same way, the taste of Dungeness crab, wild salmon or chanterelles conjure the Pacific Northwest no matter where you are.
Sharon Wiest, executive chef at the Lincoln City Culinary Center, wants to make it even easier to explore local ingredients and culinary traditions unique to the Oregon Coast.
With a mixture of demonstrations and hands-on classes, Wiest and a roster of talented guest chefs from area hot spots like Blackfish Café share the secrets to inspired cooking with a coastal twist. Think Dungeness crab lasagna — the centerpiece in an upcoming Italian holiday class — braised short ribs, hand-crafted country pâté or warming winter soups. All classes culminate in a lazy luncheon featuring the tasty results.
Courses and menus spotlight locally grown and raised foods, from organic veggies to natural meats, prairie-raised chickens, and of course, the wide variety of fresh seafood and shellfish available on the Oregon Coast.
“I stay seasonal and local,” says Wiest. “Whether it’s local ingredients or seafood, we try to feature things from right around here. For example, when I get fresh Oregon wild salmon, that’s something that’s very unique to where we are.”
Classes are affordable (a three-hour demo costs just $55) and, most importantly, replicable at home.
“I try to design the courses in an approachable way and make sure people are confident to go home and try it themselves. I try to keep things on the simpler side,” Wiest says.
In December classes include Slow Winter, featuring a menu of hearty braised dishes, and an Italian Holiday demo. In January, the focus shifts to healthy eating with seasonal seafood menus, Pacific rim dishes, hands-on pasta-making and winter soups. Baking workshops are also offered.
Don’t see anything that floats your boat? The Culinary Center can create custom group classes to your specification, the perfect diversion for a girls’ weekend, company team-building session or family reunion.