Jeri Kopecky baked her first cake with her mother in the kitchen of her family's home in Ennis, a city south of Dallas. Batter wasn't the only thing transformed by the heat of that oven, and after years of helping her mother decorate cakes for friends and neighbors, Jeri took it upon herself to make her passion her career. In 1998, she bought a cake shop, expanded its size to 4000 square feet, and leapt into business for herself. One short year later, her own daughter Kelli joined her in the baking business, and the pair now whip up multilayer bridal cakes and creative birthday cakes for their ever-growing neighborhood. Cake Carousel's ample kitchens also provide a venue for eager students to come and learn the decorating techniques that have twice been passed from mother to daughter. Basic classes teach everything from leveling batter to simple frosting-piping techniques, and students in advanced sessions sculpt complex sculptures out of fondant or learn the elements of design behind a cookie bouquet. Several instructors aid Jeri and Kelli in keeping their year-round calendar of classes running. Occasional guest and celebrity sugar artists—such as Lauren Kitchens, various Food Network chefs, or a peanut-flavored fondant sculpture of George Washington Carver—supplement the lineup with classes in their particular specialties. The candy and cookie store also offers supplies for cake, candy-making, and cookies such as gelatin, isomalt, fondant, and gum-paste.
Jeff Pearce had spent more than 20 years struggling with weight gain, unrealistic diets, and resulting depression, and then a friend showed helped him to change relationship with food. It wasn't long before they learned all the basic principles and started to develop their own tasty recipes.
The recipes focus on ancient, whole ingredients and generations-old techniques, which Jeff and Shannon claim immediately improved their energy levels, immune systems, and abilities to bench-press SUVs. To bolster his understanding of such potent whole foods, Jeff went back to school to study holistic remedies and became certified as a holistic health practitioner by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Soon after, he and Shannon began to share their healing techniques in food-prep classes, through articles on their website, and with nutritional-counseling services.
Central Market cooking schools enlightens the epicurean masters of tomorrow with instruction from the gourmet gurus of today, having previously hosted guest instructors such as the renowned Cat Cora and Mario Batali. Meal mentors post classes in both Fort Worth and Southlake every four to six weeks, usually providing 26–30 options per month. Whether it's your first time holding a skillet or you're looking to polish your sushi skills after finally discovering how to uncook fish, Central Market provides coaching for every experience level. Curious foodies can peruse an array of informative options, including sharpening your knife skills ($55), making indulgent desserts ($45), creating vegetarian dinners ($55), and fine-tuning a soufflé filled with an event horizon. Running roughly 2.5 hours each, sessions are offered most days of the week. Most hands-on classes can accommodate about 18, while demonstration classes can accommodate up to 48, depending on location. See Central Market's frequently asked questions page for more information.
Stamp Asylum's stationery school equips aspiring card makers with all the necessary supplies and knowledge to craft three custom cards. During each Friday-night class, an experienced stamp sensei teaches technicolor techniques for rendering single-fold salutations or blueberry-muffin ransom notes. Arts-and-crafts accouterments include Tim Holtz distress inks, Hero Arts rubber stamps, cardstock, and all the snippers and adhesives needed to construct Caldecott-medal-winning works of literature. Up to a dozen DIY card designers attend each class, crafting envelope stuffers sized for standard Forever stamps. To enable participants to craft works of art that can evoke emotion from even the most stone-faced clowns, each class includes all of the necessary card-making supplies and tools.
It wasn't until after she had graduated from college and raised her two kids that Jenny Scott discovered that her true passion lay in teaching others how to cook. Undeterred by the relative lateness of her discovery, she went straight back to school in order to pursue her calling. Now, the Le Cordon Bleu graduate teaches classes both at Williams-Sonoma and through her own company, Kitchen Essentials. In her home kitchen, she teaches students the fundamentals of Italian pasta making, Thai cuisine, and Southern fare, as well as tips for making sauces and not shaking hands while holding butcher knives.