From Seafood to Sauces: Local Cooking Classes Are Popular

Want to learn how to create great sauces and other condiments? Interested in how to cook fish? Want to learn the secrets of great barbeque?

You're not the only one. Chef John Marston of Leslie's Restaurant on Route 5 North in Rockingham has been offering weekly cooking classes in his kitchen, and they are proving to be a popular attraction. He normally holds the classes Wednesday evenings, and has also recently started holding them on Saturday mornings.

One recent Saturday class on how to cook a meatless luncheon, was full with eight students, who watched, help prepare and finally ate a wild mushroom and leek soup, a spinach salad with roasted pears along with the dried cranberry vinaigrette dressing, and a main course of radicchio and fennel slaw and seared sea scallops with sauce verte and toasted hazelnuts.

Reasons for coming to the class varied from a wife and mother wanting to spice up her cooking for the family to cooks who want to expand their skills. Many of those attending have received the class as a Christmas or birthday present, and they seem like an excellent idea for a gift.

Chef Marston has a quiet, relaxed and knowledgeable approach to cooking and teaching, and the classes include all sorts of skills instruction, from knife handling to searing and sauteing.

"Recipes are a guide," he tells his students right off. "Don't be intimidated by them. You're going to make mistakes. Approach cooking as something fun."

Upcoming classes include flatbread pizza, Southwestern cooking, cooking spicy foods, ways to cook steak, an Italian luncheon and a Men's Night which will focus on barbequing.

Throughout the class, Chef Marston is open to questions, and often the students' questions give him ideas for subjects for future classes. The classes are $55 for an evening class and $35 for the Saturday class - which includes a several course gourmet meal in addition to the education involved in preparing it.

You will not leave the class hungry!

Classes have been scheduled through to May, and more information about them can be found at the www.lesliestavern.com website. The Marstons also own the Thyme to Cook, a chef and cooks store located next to the restaurant, and another aspect of the classes is an opportunity to see and use a wide variety of cooking tools and utensils.

Call 463-4929 for more details or to register for an upcoming class. Bring your appetite when you go!

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