Elbert wants to show how cooking can be fun | ParkRecord.com

Elbert wants to show how cooking can be fun

Mindful Cuisine owner hosts classes

Linda Elbert, chef and owner of Mindful Cuisine, will host a class in which she teaches how to make a spring dinner.

Linda Elbert wants to share the joy of cooking.

To do so, the chef and owner of Mindful Cuisine, started hosting a series of cooking classes in her home.

"The purpose is to support and teach people how to cook, which, I think, is a unique and human thing," Elbert said during a Park Record interview. "Cooking is what humans do. We are the only species that does it." 

The issue, however, is that Elbert feels many people have lost the art.

"They either think its hard to do or that they look historically and think it's just a woman's thing to do," she said. "Other think it's isolating and/or a chore."

People's fear of isolation doesn't have to be the case.

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"I like to encourage people to cook as a family," Elbert said. "That way everyone works together and even the kids can participate."

Elbert's classes are designed to make home cooking fun.

"Cooking can be a recreational thing, an alternative to going out for dinner," she said. "I think these classes will help build community. You will meet others and cook together and sit down and eat together, talk and have a good time."

Elbert holds classes at least once a week and the schedule can be found by visiting 
mindfulcuisine.com.

The classes are held at 354 Apen Lane.

"We've done a Mezzie class that featured Mediterranean small plates and we did a St. Patrick's Day class that featured Irish food," she said. "We did a Guinness-braised fish dish, rather than the classic corned beef."

Elbert is also planning a Cinco de Mayo class, but the next session on the schedule is for adults and will be Saturday, April 8.

The meal will be an early spring dinner, featuring a starter course with small tastes of a sweet pea custard, fresh pea soup with mint and smashed pea, dill and feta crostini. 

It will also include Persian spring salad, saffron and mint chicken with spring couscous; and a chocolate strawberry tart with a sorghum crust.

Registration deadline is Thursday, April 6, to ensure a spot.

"I'm also adding a weeknight class on Tuesdays that is more technique based," Elbert said.

Her next Tuesday class, however, will be a kids' Easter treat workshop from 10-11 a.m. on April 11.

This class, which is for children 8 to 12 and held during spring break, will focus on creating a "much cuter version" of deviled eggs that look like hatching chicks, a mini edible garden of vegetables in edamame hummus, and an egg carton of homemade marshmallow chicks in Easter grass. 

Registration deadline is Sunday, April 9.

Elbert has other culinary ideas in the oven, so to speak.

"One of the things that people have asked me about is baking because they are concerned about high-altitude baking," she said. "So, I am thinking of starting a Saturday morning baking class."

Class prices usually range between $70 and $90 for a class and a meal.

Capacity for each class is 10 people for adults, but fewer for kids' classes.

"I want everyone to cook, and it's not good if you have too many people walking around with sharp or hot things," she said with a laugh. "If a class is full or if a group of people want to do something else, they an request private classes as well."

Elbert was introduced to cooking by her mother and father.

"I was an only child of very professional parents," she said. "My mom was a doctor and my father was an entrepreneur. Although they had their careers, they loved to cook."

Elbert's grandfather on her mom's side was a pastry chef.

"He had been trained in Europe and moved to Chicago, and my mom grew up above the bakery," she said.

Elbert's father grew up in California.

"His mother was a terrible cook," she said with laugh. "So, he thought eating was just something to be tolerated. But once he grew up, he found that cooking could actually taste good and got very involved in cooking."

Although Elbert grew up enjoying her parents' meals, she never thought to cook full time.

"I became a psychologist instead and set up a private practice in Laguna Beach, California," she said. "But after my kids grew up, I decided I wanted to go to culinary school."

She cut back on her practice and enrolled at Laguna School of Culinary Arts.

"When I was in school, I started learning about how foods were produced in America," Elbert said. "I was particularly moved by a book called 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' by Barbara Kinsolver."

The book, which read like a journal, documented Kisolver and her family's adventures as they decided to live off the land and eat only what was grown in their local community for one year.

"Barbara's husband, who is also a biologist, had a lot of articles in the book about agriculture, food miles and things like that," Elbert said. "So, I got involved in the Slow Food movement and chaired a project called the Art of Taste, which was all about identifying endangered food products."

There are products that either don't ship well, need more care in growing or are environmentally sensitive and are not being used any more.

"I'm interested in finding those products and producers so we can bring back the old recipes [from obscurity]," Elbert said. "I also like to grow my own food."

After completing culinary school, Elbert started working at the school's recreational cooking branch and then opened a cooking school out of her home.

When she moved to Park City, she decided to do that again.

"I love it," she said. "It's really fun."

For information about Linda Elbert's Mindful Cuisine classes, email cheflinda@mindfulcuisine.com or visit Mindfulcuisine.com.