If you’re tired of ordering P.F. Chang’s every Friday night and want to learn how to make your favorite Chinese food on your own, look no further than Chinese cooking classes. Once a month, culinary hopefuls gather at the Windsor Community Recreation Center for delicious traditional Chinese cooking.
Classes occur the first Friday each month from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Windsor Community Recreation Center kitchen.
$20 monthly registration fee.
Participants must be 18 years or older.
More information and register at: WindsorGov.com/RecReg
Windsor Culture Supervisor Laura Browarny has been coordinating Windsor’s Chinese cultural programs since the beginning of 2017. The Chinese cooking classes are a result of a partnership created with the Confucius Institute of Colorado State University in an effort to educate the community and increase the Confucius Institute’s own audience.
“This class acts as a bridge between cultures,” said Kevin Nohe, manager of the Confucius Institute of CSU. “Many individuals end up learning and understanding far more about China, its food and its culture than they ever thought possible, while our teachers get to learn the same about America through their continued interactions with students.”
Browarny admits that familiarity with certain Chinese food attracts prospective students to the class, but she hopes they learn and try something new in the process.
That learning aspect is partly why Nick and Katie VanMeter have been regulars in the program.
“We signed up for the classes because we have a strong interest in cooking, trying new things and learning about other cultures,” Nick said. “The classes that have been offered so far have touched on all three of those aspects.”
In the last year, the VanMeters have learned how to make sweet and sour chicken, dumplings and most recently pearl balls. They will be taking the steamed and fried buns class this December.
A variety of dishes are featured each month. In September it was Hunan-style spicy fried beef, October brought steamed meatballs with sticky rice and November produced spicy garlic eggplant.
It’s not all about the food, though. The class offers a casual atmosphere in which the presenter and representatives from the Confucius Institute are eager to answer questions about Chinese culture, how to pronounce words or how to approach preparing aspects of a dish.
“The thing I appreciate the most about the classes is the hands-on nature,” Nick said. “Instead of watching someone make the dish, the presenter talks about the ingredients and how to put it all together, then the students are actually the ones cutting vegetables, mixing ingredients and cooking the food.”
At the end of every class the students (and teachers) leave with full stomachs and a better appreciation for Chinese cooking and culture.
As for a favorite dish, Katie chose the dumplings, which aren’t as simple as one might think. “There are a lot of variations to dumplings, and it was fascinating learning just a few of the dough techniques.”
Nohe agreed that the dumplings seem to be the most popular course, echoing Katie’s sentiment that their significance and versatility should not be undervalued.
“Dumplings are one of the most important dishes in Chinese culture and also very well-known here in the United States,” Nohe said. “Also, because of the variety of ways in which dumplings can be prepared, the course can be taught multiple times and still feel different and unique each time.”