Christian Center now hosting cooking demos | ParkRecord.com

Christian Center now hosting cooking demos

People can learn how to make affordable meals

Bill White, right, owner of Bill White Farms, led a cooking demonstration at his property earlier this month. He taught those who get groceries from the Christian Center of Park City’s food pantry how to make a quick and affordable meal.

Twenty-five people gathered at Bill White Farms in early April. Like those who visited the historic property before, they were there to enjoy good food and conversation.

The guests — going through hard economic times and struggling to put affordable, yet tasty, meals on the table — were also there to learn how to make a quick meal for $5 per person.

It was the first cooking demonstration for those who frequent the Christian Center of Park City's food pantry. And Rob Harter, the nonprofit's executive director, says staff plan to host regular cooking classes once the center's new building, currently under construction, is finished.

"We're going to more than double the size of our food pantry," Harter said. "We're also adding a learning kitchen. The idea for it is to introduce people to different types of food and healthy options they've never considered before."

Since the center doesn't yet have a kitchen for cooking classes, Bill White — a Park City restaurateur and owner of the Bill White Farms property that includes greenhouses, orchards and gardens — volunteered to do a trial demonstration at his place.

For the first class, White — who also donates food to the center's food pantry — showed participants how to make breaded chicken, potatoes au gratin and sautéed carrots.

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"We asked the participants what they wanted to learn and they chose comfort food," Harter said. "They wanted something basic and quick to cook, because a lot of these people have two or three jobs and don't have a lot of time for cooking."

In addition to watching step-by-step instructions for a meal estimated to cost $15 for a family of four, participants were also given a bag of ingredients for the recipe, so they could try what they learned at home.

"Bill also made lamb for them to try, and had servings of the chicken course of food he demonstrated," Harter said. "He also had all kinds of drinks and wonderful desserts."

Harter said White is planning to hold another class in June, adding the classes will take place weekly when September rolls around, when the kitchen and food pantry are expected to be complete.

"We're planning on having Thursday cooking classes," Harter said. "We'll have different types of cuisine that we'll cook. Bill is very open to whatever people want to learn. We could have Mexican night, Italian night and sushi night."

In order to sign up for the next cooking class, participants must use the center's food pantry. Those who are interested can contact Emergency Assistance and Latino Outreach Coordinator Max Ventura: Max@ccofpc.org. Space is limited to 30 people.

Harter is excited about the cooking demonstrations, but he is also looking forward to the new food pantry.

Rather than being given rations of meat, eggs and milk by volunteers, those who get free groceries from the food pantry will have an experience similar to the one they get in grocery stores in which they can grab the items they want to take home.

"We want people who come for food to feel like their dignity remains intact," Harter said. "We want this to feel like another place they would go in addition to Smith's, Fresh Market and Whole Foods."

A lot of times, those who struggle to a afford groceries feel they have little control over their lives, Harter said.

The executive director hopes the new food pantry set-up and cooking demonstrations will help people who turn to the Christian Center take back some of the control they feel they've lost.

The Christian Center of Park City is a community outreach center that offers counseling, runs a thrift store and provides help to people going through financial difficulty. Visit http://www.ccofpc.org for information on the nonprofit.