Interest in Cooking at Home Heats Up

-- Trend Reflected in Enrollment Surge in Classes for Casual Chefs --

It takes a lot to get a golfer to cut back on links time, but William Jones has done just that. These days, he's spending fewer hours on the course in favor of learning to improve his skills in his kitchen. Jones is part of a trend reflected at the Culinary Institute of Virginia, School of Culinary Arts of ECPI College of Technology, where rising interest in home cooking is causing an enrollment surge in its Casual Gourmet program.

Casual Gourmet classes are designed for people who wish to accomplish more with the meals they prepare in the home. While the courses are not oriented toward aspiring career chefs, they are taught in the same facilities the Culinary Institute of Virginia, known as CIV, uses to train students for culinary careers. They are led by CIV's chef instructors and industry professionals.

Casual Gourmet class topics range from Sushi 101, Pizza from Scratch, and Make Your Own Ice Cream to courses on Thai, Indian, Mexican and other international cuisines. Classes are held from 6 - 9 p.m. on weekdays and are one to three sessions in length. Tuition is from $60 to $120 per course.

The Casual Gourmet program's coordinator is CIV Chef Instructor Dedra Blount, who says working with Jones and his classmates is a passion. "I love to teach and love to empower others to cook."

Enrollment in the Casual Gourmet program has grown more than 50 percent over the last year, according to Blount. Attendees represent a broad swath of the public, including working adults, retirees, and teenagers attending with their parents. She credits the increasing focus on healthy eating, the desire to better manage dining costs, and the growing popularity of cooking shows on television for the rise.

Jones, a Norfolk resident, says after his first Casual Gourmet course he was hooked enough to reduce his golf outings and enroll in more classes. He has taken nearly 10 over the past 15 months.

"The courses are a really hands-on experience," he says. "You roll up your sleeves, learn, prepare, cook and eat. It's not just observation and tasting; it's very thorough. It has been very fulfilling."

Upcoming classes include: April 7, Sushi 101; April 12, Breakfast for Dinner; April 19, Make Your Own Ice Cream; April 20 & 21, Let's Do Brunch; and May 3, Global Gourmet: Cinco de Mayo. More information is available at www.chefva.com/casual.

The Casual Gourmet program is CIV's recreational division, designed to provide outreach to the community. The primary mission of CIV is providing its Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Food Service Management, as well as an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Culinary Arts for students seeking culinary careers. The Culinary Institute of Virginia's website is www.chefva.com.

The Culinary Institute of Virginia is located at 2428 Almeda Ave. in Norfolk, VA.

About ECPI University

ECPI University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate, baccalaureate, and masters degrees and diploma programs. With campuses in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, ECPI, a private university established in 1966, offers convenient classes during the day, evening, [ Continue Reading... ]

ECPI University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate, baccalaureate, and masters degrees and diploma programs. With campuses in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, ECPI, a private university established in 1966, offers convenient classes during the day, evening, and online; graduate employment services are provided. Continuing education certification classes and testing are also available.

ECPI's fields of study include:

TECHNOLOGY


BUSINESS AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

HEALTH SCIENCES

CULINARY

(Program field availability varies by campus.) For more information, visit http://www.ecpi.edu

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