Cool culinary classes coming to Naperville: Meet our new chef!
- Created on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 18:19
- Written by Sue Omanson
The Naperville Park District’s Winter Program Guide is bursting with new cooking programs, for the beginner who has no experience in the kitchen to the seasoned gourmet who wants to take their skills to the next level.
You may wonder, why the sudden explosion of culinary arts at the Park District?
It started with the opportunity to lease recreation space in south Naperville in the Fry Properties
building on 95th Street.
The 95th Street Center
One of the unique features of this building is that it has a culinary arts kitchen with an instructor station and six fully-equipped participant kitchens all in the same large room. As Program Manager Sandie Glimer explained, participants can watch the instructor and then practice the technique immediately in their own space.
View of the teaching kitchen at the 95th Street Center
Once the teaching space was secured, the search began for a chef who would serve as the instructor and creator of a boundless variety of cooking classes for all ages.
Meet Chef Emily Miller
The Park District is pleased to welcome Chef Emily Miller as our new teaching chef. Emily brings her varied experience as an elementary school teacher, a professional chef in a hospital setting, and as assistant culinary director at Sur la Table, responsible for teaching and developing culinary classes.
Chef Emily Miller
She is excited about her new position with the Park District. In her words, “I love to teach people new cooking skills. When they are able to master a skill or recipe, the benefits spill over into other areas of life. They become more confident and willing to try something new, to be more adventurous.”
Chef Emily enjoys teaching people the basics, for example, how to cook rice, how to cut up a chicken, how to cut a potato into fries, how to roll Sushi. When I asked her what her favorite dishes are to prepare and to enjoy, she agreed that it was a hard question. “I have to go back to the simplicity of homemade pizza,” she said. “It can be a ton of fun, and everybody likes it. You can make it as a family or divvy up the dough and let each person make their own small pizza. Today’s flat bread gives us so many options; for example, just add caramelized onions and goat cheese to make a delicious pizza.”
A preview of the new programs
A quick glance at the Culinary Arts section of the Winter Program Guide will show an amazing variety of programs coming this winter and spring. Some cprograms center on an ingredient, a meal, a theme, a dietary need, a season, or an ethnic cuisine. Others are for certain participants, for example, girls’ night out, date night, parent-child, family, teen party, etc. Free preview classes are offered the week of Dec. 10-14.
Chef Emily looks forward to tapping into the ethnic influences in Naperville, for example, Indian curry and kabobs. She enjoys seeing families participate in cooking, and notes that getting kids involved in cooking can help picky eaters be more willing to try new foods.
“Cooking is a huge part of life,” added Chef Emily. “There are so many options out there. I want to give people the tools and ability to be adventurous with food,” she said.