Lifelong Learning makes food and drink education informative and fun
If you’ve been in the Salt Lake City area long enough, you’ve probably heard of Lifelong Learning even if you’ve never been to a class. The program is part of the Continuing Education Program through the University of Utah, which offers classes on everything from photography, business and writing to gardening and cooking. The classes are affordable and are taught at the professional and collegiate level. Lifelong Learning specifically caters to those already maxed out with the usual work, family and social activities. This type of learning is both DIY and professional—academic and pragmatic. And perhaps best of all, fun and community centered. I’ve taught an All About Coffee class for the past two years with Lifelong Learning and am teaching an Introduction to Food Writing course in late September.
The Lifelong Learning classes usually take up a couple hours on a weeknight or weekend, and provide an invaluable and intimate setting for learning more about that one thing you’ve always wanted to educate yourself on or try. Sourdough starters? Making your own croissants? Brewing your own beer? Craft cocktails? Wine? Coffee? Learn from the best professionals around Salt Lake and among fellow Utahns. After all, YouTube videos and cookbooks can only take you so far. Sometimes, you need the pros and a workshop setting with peers to get to the next level.
Take Jason Stock, brewmaster at Squatters, where he’s worked for 17 years. He’s taught a Lifelong Learning Food and Beer Pairing class for the past two years. “When I teach the class, I really try to help the students understand how the beer world is wonderfully complex,” he says. “People tend to view beer as a yellow fizzy drink and while I think the craft-beer movement has helped educate the public, I find that there is still a lot of work to be done. Showing the class how varied the beer world can be is one of my main goals.”
Ethan Miller, former head distiller at one of Salt Lake’s newest spirit maker, Dented Brick Distillery, teaches a class titled The Cocktail: Back to Basics, and is also starting a whiskey-tasting class this fall. He’s been distilling for more than eight years with stints at High West and New Deal Distillery in Portland, Ore. Dented Brick currently distills rum, vodka and gin (made with Rooibos tea leaves). They also have some rum aging in cabernet barrels (blood-red in color) and an apple-wood smoked malt whiskey slated to come out soon.
“I want students to come away from the class with enough confidence to have some friends over to their house for cocktails and be able to make a decent cocktail,” Miller says. “Or, at the very least, to make a decent cocktail for themselves.” He says his classes are taught in a very open format. “Really, the focus of that class for me is to get the students to experience some different flavors and realize how those flavors have an impact on their cocktail.”
There are many other classes offered this fall as well. Les Madeleines owner Romina Rasmussen is teaching a class on making croissants, and Julie Daily and Ken Kiss are instructing a class on how to make artisan sourdough bread. Other course subjects include wine, cheese, chocolate, mushroom-gathering and making holiday desserts.
Most of these classes, while incredibly informative, are still informal and approachable. “My teaching style is very casual,” Stock says. “I think of it as a guided conversation, and I try to focus on topics that the class seems to have a genuine interest in.” Rasmussen, who has been teaching Lifelong Learning classes for the past five years, says, “I want students to feel like they can go home and do it on their own. I give them lots of tips throughout the class to try to make it less intimidating.”
Lifelong Learning classes are an enjoyable way to engage and learn more about the food and beverage community in Utah. They also make for a great relational outing and are a unique gift to give someone for their birthday or during the holidays. “I like sharing my knowledge with others,” Rasmussen says. “I like being able to take something that is challenging and help break it down into smaller steps that inspire confidence in the kitchen.” Who knew school could be this tasty?
Check out the full schedule at: continue.utah.edu/lifelong/classes