5 Featured Culinary Art Resources in Western MA

Hear Me Roar: Culinary Arts in Western Massachusetts

Art You Can Eat
By Cheryl Allan Carlyle

Food is fundamental. At its core, it is our life source; something required for survival. But anyone who’s ever bitten into that perfectly balanced bite, or those fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls knows that it’s so much more complex than that! Food has always been a cornerstone of our traditions, as we pass recipes down from one generation to the next, sharing age-old secrets and creating memories across the dinner table. For example, if a dish tastes like it’s “missing something” and you can’t figure out what it is, I was taught that a pinch of salt most often times does the trick (the art of a simple fix!).

To talk about cooking in a column about discovering artistic inspiration feels only natural. I grew up in a family rooted in culture, where food was honored and appreciated. When we think of food as art, it goes beyond just tossing some ingredients in a pan and stirring. The act of preparation is an art within itself. Whether it’s learning proper knife skills, allowing the dough to proof long enough to create the perfect loaf of bread, or knowing the difference between minced, chopped, and julienne, the culinary artist has as much to learn about their medium as does the painter or sculptor.

I’ve spoken to individuals who have a desire to increase their culinary creativity, but feel overwhelmed in the kitchen. They don’t know where to begin, or doubt their ability to create something they can truly be proud of. We live in a state rich in culinary history – the first culinary arts school was founded in Boston in the 1800s. This month, I encourage anyone who has ever dreamed of joining the ranks of Julia Child to let the inspiration lead. Our Western Massachusetts community offers abundant opportunity to connect with local chefs who are passionate about sharing their secrets with you! Here are a few I recommend:

The Baker’s Pin is run by a team of talented chefs who host demonstrations and hands-on cooking classes throughout the year. Students learn useful techniques while preparing delicious recipes. Northampton, MA

The Organic Gourmet is run by internationally recognized farm-to-table chef and cooking teacher Leslie Cerier, who has over 30 years experience specializing in vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free meals. Leslie teaches private, hands on cooking classes as well as Gourmet Getaway Weekends, cooking fresh from her organic garden. Amherst, MA

Mala’s Indian Coooking Class is taught by nutritionist and chef Mala Patel, who helps guide and refine culinary repertoires, creating homemade, multicourse Indian feasts during her classes. Combining comprehensive demonstrations with hands-on cooking experience, balanced with an insightful understanding of the benefits of Indian cuisine and its relationship to good health. She says, ” I don’t classify myself as a gourmet chef – I’m a good cook and a better teacher, and I teach from my heart. My specialty is simplifying food in a way that a novice could do it.” Mala offers private-personal and group lessons, employee incentive and team building classes, cooking parties with colleagues, friends or family, birthday parties for up to 12 people, and special classes designed especially for children! Wilbraham, MA

Good Stock Farm is owned and operated by James Beard Award winning Chef Sanford (Sandy) and Angie D’Amato. Their classes are designed for every from beginner level to the most experienced cooks. Sandy has been cooking and teaching for over 40 years in New York City, France, Italy, and Mexico City. Sandy’s teaching style is comprehensive, friendly and packed with invaluable cooking and baking tips. His skills range from home-style to professional-style and there are numerous techniques and shortcuts to learn from any cooking or baking dish he is preparing. Although he is a French-trained chef, Sandy’s dishes draw from cuisines from all over the world. At the cooking classes he will cook from his 1000+ repertoire of recipes including those from his memoir with recipes, GOOD STOCK: Life on a Low Simmer. Hatfield, MA

The Little Cooking School is run by Chef Marty Yaffee, an ACF Certified Culinary Educator and healthy menu/restaurant consultant. Chef Marty will help you learn how to make all your favorite foods and delectable desserts which are enjoyed with friends and family in the comfort of your own home! Serving western Massachusetts from Amherst to Brattleboro. Shelburne Falls, MA

[Photo Credit: (cc) Les Roches]


About the Author

Cheryl Allan Carlyle ♦ Cheryl is a native of Western Massachusetts who was introduced to theater at a young age, and whose love of performing arts has only grown throughout the years. Cheryl is an accomplished playwright whose feature-length play, The Weight of Silence, made its world premiere in Cape Cod. Her work has also been showcased at local theaters and festivals throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut. Whether it’s local stages or the bright lights of Broadway, Cheryl has a deep appreciation for theater arts and the amount of work and dedication that goes into each performance. Cheryl is also Hilltown Families’ Theater Bulletin Board Manager, where she provides our readers with a bridge that connects our local community with the magic and wonderment of live theater.

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