Food Lab is slated to open in Boulder during spring 2015, and we are so excited about what this means for our community! This culinary hub promises something for everyone, from a new event space, to adult classes, and even a few activities for the kids. Food Lab is about so much more than just food, which is why we wanted to interview its owner, Casey Easton. Here, she gives us some details about what we can expect from this exciting new Boulder business:
Tell us about the whole concept behind a “community culinary hub”.
I need to say cooking school so people will understand that there are classes. I prefer to use the term “Culinary Hub” because Food Lab is more than that; it is a place to gather and learn and have parties. Besides the basic classes, we will have demonstration dinners, where people will sit around the chefs table and have a four course meal prepared in front of them and paired with wine or beer, and they will be learning the whole time too.
We will have wine and cheese pairing events (being next to Cured, I cannot wait to be able to showcase what is in their store!). I want to get into very seasonal classes like pickling and jarring. I’m currently searching for really unique cultural feasts and menus that chefs can bring into our kitchen. When you have a party hosted here, the chef will be chatting about the food. Basically, when you are here, whether for a class or a party, we want you to leave having learned at least something about food or wine that you did not know before!
How many chefs are currently part of the Food Lab teaching staff? Are you still accepting applications from Boulder-based chefs who are interested in joining your team?
So far, there is just me! I am knee deep in build-out and paper work and a lot of the non-creative side of the project. I cannot wait to start seriously looking for chefs. The plan is to have a team of about 3 eclectic alternating chefs with different strengths, plus “guest” chefs if you will, from some of our awesome local restaurants for demo nights (the non-hands-on cooking classes, think cooking show style). I have some people who are interested, and I am definitely still interested in hiring chefs!
Your website states that your classes will be technique-based. What are some of the cooking techniques that will be taught by your chefs?
Everybody ALWAYS asks about knife skills. I have a feeling that class will be a good one. During the hands on classes, people will learn the techniques that go along with their menu, yet the can use in other recipes. For example, in a New Mexican class you would learn about roasting and peeling peppers, soaking and cooking beans, roasting up some pork. We will also be stressing the importance of timing and pre-prepping to help people find success in their kitchen on a daily basis.
What can people expect from their first visit to Food Lab? (Are there any particular requirements, cost, etc?)
No requirements. The classes are great for beginners, although I am thinking about instilling a rating system, just so people will know what to expect. (I.e.: Telling people this class is very beginner-based, so if you have some skills in the kitchen already, still come, but just expect a good review or telling people that it is a knife heavy class, so they may want to take knife skills first).
I have been teaching classes for 6 years and visited tons of schools around the country, so I see the one thing that people want to know is what to expect from the class they are going to. The cost will be starting at $65 depending on class and everyone gets the class, the recipes and to eat their food at the end!
Tell us about the space.
I’m so excited to start building. It will have a very natural and comfortable feel, something that when people walk in they want to have this as their own kitchen. It will be like a blown up residential kitchen. Ill have all residential Dacor appliances, which I find important in these recreational classes, so people won’t be intimidated by huge industrial machinery and think they can’t recreate these meals at home because of that. It will be designed to be able to sit around a cooktop and watch and also have a space for the classes for people to prep and cook. I’ll also have a sit down area for more formal meals. I have a great designer and architect, Michael Moore of Tres Birds. I love his style! It’s a mix of natural and industrial themes, and I am really excited to see what he comes up with.
It sounds like Food Lab will be a great venue for group activities. If someone is interested in booking a private event, where should they start?
Yes! I believe that we will wind up utilizing this part a lot. We will be able to accommodate up to 50 people. To book, they will need to reach out to me, and we’ll come up with a stylized menu for their occasion.
Is there anything that parents should know about the classes and camps that are included in “Little Lab”? (topics, schedule, age requirements, etc)
I am creating all of that right now. My kids are 4 and 7, so they are great guinea pigs. I’m thinking 8 week (once a week) courses that allow them to learn and cook different food groups each time. The kids will get to invite their parents to the last class for dinner! It will probably be for ages 6 and up, and they will separated by age group in the kitchen, as well.
We understand that Food Lab has scheduled its official opening on April 1, 2015. Will you be hosting any pre-opening events before that time?
We will definitely have a private launch party and a grand opening.
When should we look for your schedule of classes to be posted? Will we have the opportunity to pre-register?
The site is being built and I hope to have the classes listed by February so people can start signing up!
How can people contact you if they have any additional questions?
My email address, Casey@foodlabboulder.com , is a great way to connect with me.