BY LEE ANN SANDWEISS
If you’ve always wanted to master Tuscan cuisine or bake a perfect loaf of bread, the Bloomington Cooking School can teach you how. A wide variety of classes from “Knife Skills” to “Gluten free breads” are offered throughout the year, taught by some of the area’s best-known chefs.
Truffle-maker extraordinaire Jan Bulla-Baker and Runcible Spoon owner/chef Matt O’Neill started the school in the summer of 2001 with a couple of other partners.
“After about six months, the other two partners needed to drop out, but Matt and I decided to try to keep the school going,” says Bulla-Baker, a self-taught chocolatier and past owner of Chocolate Factory.
Ten years later, the school is bustling with students of all ages and has a faculty roster that reads like a Who’s Who of local chefs, including David Fletcher of BLU Culinary Arts; Heather O’Sullivan, bread maker for Scholars Inn Bakehouse; and Dave and Kristen Tallent of Restaurant Tallent.
“Everyone who cooks for a living should teach,” says O’Neill, who trained as a chef in Dublin, Ireland. “It’s an opportunity to develop communication skills as well as a culinary constituency. People want to learn how to cook, so there’s no excuse for chefs not to teach. Teaching is its own reward.”
The school enjoys partnerships with a number of local organizations to provide educational opportunities and outreach, including Bloomington Parks & Recreation’s People’s University, Downtown Bloomington, Inc., and the Monroe County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The school’s collaboration with Ivy Tech Community College helped launch the college’s hospitality program by providing classes and chefs and it also offers courses through the college’s personal enrichment and College for Kids programs.
Located on the lower level of the Uptown Plaza at 115 N. College, the school’s teaching space was formerly the home of Just Desserts.
“I think people find cooking empowering,” says Bulla-Baker. “They learn new skills, and it’s a very social and sharing experience. They make friends in these classes and they continue to learn—it’s pure enjoyment.”
For updates on class offerings and seasonal recipes, visit bloomingtoncookingschool.com.