“You never forget a beautiful thing that you have made,’ Chef Bugnard said. ‘Even after you eat it, it stays with you – always.” ― Julia Child, My Life in France
Chef Jenny Engel – one-half of the dynamic sister-chef duo, Spork Foods – believes that vegan cuisine is maturing, and she wants to teach it to walk in high-heels. Jenny and her sister, Heather Goldberg, own Spork Foods – an L.A.based gourmet vegan food company and along with organic vegan cooking classes, they also offer in-home healthy eating consultations, private cooking parties, corporate trainings and team-building cooking classes.
Jenny (left) and Heather (right) chefing for the class
I had the pleasure of attending one of the Spork’s cooking classes – “Fancy Pants” to be exact – a couple of weeks ago and while sitting on a wooden stool surrounded by like-minded souls, I was both entertained, enthused and fascinated as the sisters showed us step by step how to cook:
- Peanut Butter Baked Donuts with a maple coconut “bacon” topping
- White Bean, Olive and Mushroom Pinwheels
- Hearts of Palm Fritters with a Smoky Paprika Aioli
- and Grilled Zucchini with a Saffron Cream Sauce
Grilled Zucchini with a Saffron Cream Sauce
Although the outside of the Spork Foods headquarters (located on the corner of Gardner Street + Santa Monica Boulevard) resembled more of a corporate headquarters – with its glass door and white-washed exterior – once you stepped inside and into their space, it was almost as if you were transported in your dear old mother’s kitchen. Or, rather Heather and Jenny’s mothers kitchen, since she was on-site assisting the sisters with the dishes, doling out of snacks and refills of water, as the sisters chatted, chopped and cooked for the class.
White Bean, Olive and Mushroom Pinwheels
One thing that I really adored about the class is the overall ambiance of the “set.” I’m calling it a set because it really felt like we (the other 7 members of my small class) were audience members at a show on the Food Network, except that the show was interactive and we got to ask questions. The class stools were placed around a great big, “round-table” countertop, so each member was able to easily see each other, and natural light abounded through two big windows. It was like being in a country kitchen, and Heather and Jenny were like sweet, southern hosts inviting us to share their world and their meal. Not only did we learn how to cook everything step-by-step and up-close-and-personal, we were given papers with the full recipes to take home and also pens to take notes with.
Heather adding coconut “bacon” crumbs to the finished peanut butter donuts. Coconut bacon, because of course, it is a vegan class
Besides learning that cashews are so expensive because they come from “cashew apples” – that’s right, actual apples and are enclosed in toxic enzymes, who knew? – we also learned handy details about healthy eating and vegan food, and they made sure to pass certain ingredients around so that we could taste and smell them for ourselves.
Cashew apple. Image courtesy of http://www.lifeline.net.au
Then, after everything was made, we all sat around a gorgeous wooden table with adorable, elegant plates and linen napkins and enjoyed the fruits (errr, foods) of our labor. It was a chance to mingle with others in the class, hold fun, casual conversations and even make new friends. It was such a peaceful gathering… I really can’t think of a better way that I could have spent my Saturday morning. If you’re ever in the L.A. area – or not (as the sisters frequently travel nationwide teaching their classes) – I would definitely recommend trying to catch up with these beauties.
I’m not a vegan, but the class gave me a sense of all of the great food that can be created without the use of meat, and for that, I am really appreciative and grateful.
Peanut Butter Baked Donuts with a maple coconut “bacon” topping
For more information on Heather, Jenny and Spork Foods, visit: http://sporkfoods.com/
For Spork Foods’ cooking class schedule: http://sporkfoods.com/index.php/page/classes
Hearts of Palm Fritters with a Smoky Paprika Aioli