THANKS MOSTLY TO Peg Lee, Houston home cooks got a jump on how-tos and gourmet ingredients, first with the Rice Epicurean Market cooking school, and then Central Market’s wildly successful cooking classes. A lifelong advocate of home cooking, Lee was also a mentor to several of the city’s most well known chefs, including Robert Del Grande, Greg Martin and Mark Cox.
The Houston legend is now the namesake for a new cooking school in one of the city’s most adored urban green sanctuaries, which is ramping up for the new year. Recipe for Success Foundation’s Hope Farms recently swung open its Gathering Barn doors for new educational venue, the Peg Lee Culinary Classroom.
This new space will host a wide range of cooking classes and educational programs showcasing healthy eating. Also on tap are field trips, tastings and free cooking demos for children and adults. Looking for a private-room venue? Book it for cooking parties and group classes for 4-24 students.
Lee’s mission was to empower her students to make delicious meals for their families from scratch and using fresh ingredients. She began teaching cooking classes at Houston Community College in the 1970s and quickly embraced the abundant humor that comes with the territory. After founding the Rice Epicurean cooking school, Central Market lured her away to start its version in 2001. Here, Lee helped attract well known national and international chefs, often touring them around Houston bragging about the city’s rich, multicultural culinary world.
“Peg was one of my earliest mentors in the imagining and crafting of what Recipe for Success Foundation would become,” says Recipe for Success Foundation’s founder, Gracie Cavnar. “When we began programing, she rolled up her sleeves, helping us teach children to cook and bringing her many resources to help us raise money and awareness for our efforts. It is my deepest honor to pay her tribute with the naming of our classroom.”
As for the classroom, expect a welcoming, white, farmhouse-style kitchen with custom cabinets and high-end appliances designed to reflect an aspirational home kitchen. Its crispness is softened by butcher-block countertops and matte black accents including farm-made tables for student stations. A spacious center island for presentations features a Wolf Induction cook top and a GE Café Smart Five-in-One Wall Oven (Speed Oven). The classroom’s filtered water is tied into the farm’s new rainwater-capture system for the ultimate in sustainability.
Local notable chefs participating in the new Chefs in the Field cooking series have so far included Thomas Laczynsky of Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar (you may recall, he was the opening chef at Fig & Olive). February 1, come hungry for a hands-on class from BOH Pasta chef Ben McPherson (6:30pm-8:30pm). And March 1, Central Market chef Rakesh Nayak takes the stage (6:30pm-8:30pm). Classes are limited to 12 students and designed to take your meals to the next level.
To keep up with the lineup at Hope Farms, check out the website here. Happy cooking!
Participating chefs McPherson, Laczynsky and Nayak
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