I am participating for the third year in Vegan MoFo, a month long vegan food extravaganza from vegan bloggers around the globe focusing on delicious food for the month of September! I was fortunate enough to recently graduate from the Natural Kitchen Cooking School, one of the few vegan chef culinary programs in the United States and close to my home in the Northeast.
While I already knew how to cook prior to beginning my journey last October, I wanted some official training and street cred when I eventually open up my vegan bed and breakfast, dive into the realm of cookbook writing, or just for teaching vegan cooking classes.
I have to say, it was truly the experience of a lifetime. At the time of my enrollment, the program was 8 months long, meeting one weekend a month. We had themed weekends such as Glorious Grains, Soups & Stews, Dressings & Sauces, the World of Beans, Foods in a Flash, Vegetables from the Land & Sea, Kitchen Pharmacy, and Festive Foods.
Every weekend we received a kick-ass goodie bag that included a cookbook relevant to the theme, food samples, and kitchen tools and gadgets. We received packets of nutritional information, recipes, and guidance on how to prepare that weekend’s dishes. We had lectures and hands-on group work for our meal preparation. We learned about knife skills, how to plate properly (we eat first with our eyes, so visual appeal is key), and how to work together and really taste our food. Additionally, we had guest chefs come in every weekend to teach us some new skills, impart wise business advice, and share their exquisite recipes with us.
We were surrounded by very knowledgeable staff and chefs eager to show us the benefits of healthy, plant-based living and mostly gluten-free meals based off of macrobiotic principles. The camaraderie and friendships we made in our class were unforgettable.
I got to wow my husband, as well as friends and family with my new found recipes and skills. Since we had monthly homework assignments, many of you may already be familiar with some of the dishes I made in class, as I also blogged about it. Some of my favorite homework assignments included making Zucchini Rice Cakes, Fettuccine with Pea Pesto, Shiitake Bacon, & Cashew Parmesan, and Chickpea Socca with House Marinara.
For our graduation weekend, we had to create a menu and prepare food for the staff one day and the next day we made heavy hors d’oeuvres for our friends and family for our graduation ceremony. We were also dazzled by guest chefs from the renowned Candle Cafe in New York City to really top off our last weekend together.
I highly recommend anyone wanting to learn how to cook healthy, sharpen up their vegan culinary skills, or those who just love great, clean food to consider taking weekend bootcamp classes with the Natural Kitchen Cooking School or signing up for their next 4 month program starting in October. In full disclosure, I’m now the social media coordinator for NKCS. Check out the NKCS blog for updates and yummy recipes! You won’t be disappointed.