Back to Archives

My Las Vegas

Urban Gourmet & Garden heats up cooking class options in Tacoma

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

There’s something about the idea of cooking that just brings warm, happy feelings deep into my soul.

Sure, the act of eating makes me happy, but when I think of the fun part of the process of cooking — the special gadgets, the flavorful combinations, the time-proven methods and bizarre rituals — I feel the same way I feel when I think about starting any new creative endeavor.

There’s so much promise in the thought of cooking, but then when I venture into the practice of it, I scorch lentil soup in the crock pot, I undercook filet mignon, and I turn succulent chicken breasts into lumps of chicken jerky.

Turns out, I could probably benefit from cooking lessons, and my friends at Urban Gourmet & Garden can save me.

To me, Urban Gourmet & Garden is like Las Vegas is to the significant one. In Vegas, he watches the scantily clad girls and drools. In Urban Gourmet & Garden, I look at the All Clad and drool. I see the stemware and serving goodies and twitch, when I see all the baking gadgets and fun new silicone items my fingers ache to stroke, and then when I see the rows upon rows of spices and teas, I just want to pick up two jugs and bury my nose deep in and inhale. And don’t even get me started on the aches and pangs of pain that the Le Creuset inflicts on my heart.

But unlike the man in Vegas, I know that I can own all the items in the shop — I just have to know what to do with them.

And here’s where the brilliant minds of UG & G come in. 

Now that their impressively huge kitchen — seating up to 24 — is fully installed and ready to go, they’re embarking on their series of cooking classes.

Tuesday, featured chef Monique Barbeau worked the soup angle. Barbeau, whose background includes graduation from the Culinary Institute and work in such prestigious New York restaurants as The Quilted Giraffe, Le Bernardin, and Chanterelle, became executive chef at Fullers, winning a James Beard Award, Best Chef in the Northwest.

Although Barbeau stepped out of the limelight to settle in Lakewood, she consults with the Clover Park Technical College Culinary Arts program and hosts cooking classes. Tuesday’s “Soups” class won’t be her last one at Urban Gourmet & Garden, and if you want to hit up a cooking class there yourself, you’re in luck, for only $65 a class.

Tonight, you can learn how to master a crust with Kris O’Leary, whose “ChocolateWorks” cakery took Seattle by storm in the ’90s. Now focusing on family and working at Metropolitan Market, in addition to opening “Bakergirl,” a special order cakery, she’ll spread her expertise so that you (or I) can make a crust that doesn’t embarrass us. (Why, yes, as a matter of fact I did serve pumpkin pies in cups one year.)

On Saturday, Nov. 17, Traci Garrett will bring her skills that have propelled Marzano Italian Restaurant into Hall of Italian Restaurant Fame status as she teaches the essence of Italian cooking and life that she cultivated in 18 years of living in the Italian countryside.

David Dagley, owner of Jonz catering with his wife, Linda, brings his varied repertoire to the Urban Gourmet & Garden space Sunday, Nov. 19, with Caribbean Flavors, followed by an Indian Cooking class the week after taught by Gateway to India owners Surinder Pal Singh & Chiranjiv (CJ) Singh.

Nutritionist Juleanne Cherbas has my number on Wednesday, Nov 28, when she brings “Nutritious and Delicious” together in a Mediterranean cooking class, with Kris Leary following temptingly with a Pate’ au Choux class the next day. (Beignets, anyone? Cream puffs? Profiteroles? Can you say, “Heaven” in the form of a carbohydrate?)

Terry Wong, who manages Urban Gourmet & Garden, mentions some more plans for the space that include mixology classes taught by cute bartenders, children’s cooking classes, and even opening up the space for private parties.

But for me, with my twin nasty little habits of shopping and wine-imbibing, I see the true benefit to the classes in the glasses of the red stuff served and the mid-class “shopping breaks” where you can take advantage of “featured items” and discounts.

With my love of the win/win situation, I can see this as the next big thing: food, learning to cook, sipping on wine, and shopping, all coalescing in a space with great chi.


[Urban Gourmet & Garden, 2602 Sixth Ave., Ste B, Tacoma, 253.272.3111]

comments powered by Disqus