With a long history working in restaurants, Erasmo (Ras) Casiano thinks it’s great that people dine out a lot. But he and business partner Diego Coconati noticed that people were becoming intimidated by certain foods and by cooking their own meals. They realized that between social media and TV shows, food was being put on a pedestal. “It didn’t need to be that intimidating,” says Casiano. “We feed ourselves on a daily basis to live. Why not get back to enjoying it?” They opened Create Cooking School in the Stanley Marketplace last November to help people become comfortable making their own meals, and become confident in their abilities.
The two chef/owners met while working in another, now-defunct, cooking school several years ago. The idea for opening their own cooking school for non-professionals started when Casiano was recovering from back surgery. His wife suggested he go out on his own to teach people how to cook. Casiano noticed Coconati’s enthusiasm and manner with class attendees and approached him with the idea of opening a cooking school together.
They loved the idea of being in the Stanley because of easy exposure to their prospective students. “We were the last business to open here and bring the Stanley to full capacity,” says Michelle Nguyen, Event Coordinator at Create. “People are looking for experiences for fun or to build skills.”
Class size is limited to 12 people, with one chef and one steward, to make sure everyone has the chance to ask questions and get individualized help. Working in pairs, each class attendee makes their own full meal which includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Often, cooking classes assign students to make one element of a meal, but Casiano and Coconati wanted to avoid that. “We wanted to put as much contact with food ingredients and processes into our 3-hour classes as we could,” says Casiano.
Classes start with a drink and some nibbles while the chef discusses the plan for the evening. As portions of the meal are made, people sit down together to eat, then get up and make the next part. Every class includes a full meal that each person has prepared for themselves, altering things like spiciness levels, as they desire. In the course of each class, students learn knife skills are learned as well as skills specific to the class such as sautéing or poaching.
Classes are available for ages 6 and up and for all skill levels. At any given class, there may be very experienced cooks on down to the very inexperienced. Casiano says beginners shouldn’t be intimidated. “I tell them to look around the room and see that everyone else bought a class too. ‘It’s not just you. You won’t be alone. We’re here to help.’”
Create Cooking School is also available for those who aren’t taking a class. A full bar featuring basics such as Manhattans, Piña Coladas, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks is open daily from 10:30am-10pm whether or not a class is going on. People are welcome to grab a drink and sit at the bar or at the viewing bar at the outer corner of the school and listen in on a class, take notes and enjoy the “free smells,” as Casiano puts it.
It’s all part of the ambiance the team wants to create. “We want it to feel comfortable, warm with some nice music, kind of like being at a friend’s dinner party. We want to bring people back to the kitchen, back around the table, and get people back in touch with their food.” For more information, visit CreateFoods.co, call 720.573.9949, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.