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Many Chefs Find Profits in Teaching Others Fine Food

By Carrie Snider
Yakima Valley Business Times
February 8, 2013

Whether you’re looking to cook more healthy foods, explore the world of fine cuisine or simply have a night out, there are plenty of different cooking classes to choose from in the Yakima Valley. Each one offers its own unique flavor.

Several businesses offer cooking instruction as a supplement to other things they do. And there are cooking classes found in places you wouldn’t expect, including a doctor’s clinic.

Learn At Home Staci Sainsbury of Staci’s Catering works by day as a caterer, but also offers personal, in-home cooking classes in the evenings.

“I teach a dish,” she explained. “I can bring the ingredients, or meet at the store and buy groceries together, or I can give them a list and they can buy.”

She and the student will discuss what dish the student wants to learn to make, and Sainsbury is their in-home chef/teacher for the evening. “It’s a really fun, casual atmosphere,” she said.

Sainsbury can do in-home instruction with small groups, a couple or an individual. She gets a lot of requests for Italian dishes, meatloaf, fried chicken, barbecue, lasagna and chicken Parmesan.

Typically the instruction will involve several courses, or it can be just a dessert. “There is nothing set. It really depends on what the person wants.”

Special menus are ideal for her type of instruction, she added, and she can help those with diabetes or a gluten intolerance cook a fun meal. “I don’t cut corners. Everything is homemade, down to the salad dressing.”

Someday she hopes to have an on-site location to further expand cooking instruction.

Sainsbury is passionate about cooking. “I can’t get it out of my blood,” she said. “I have a natural talent for cooking. I think it comes from my grandma.”

She worked at the Yakima Convention Center for six years, then worked with another cook in catering. She recently went out on her own and works out of the kitchen at the Yakima Valley Museum.

She caters for corporate events, weddings, funerals, and other events.

Have A Cooking Party La Maison is another choice for local cooking classes — with a little bit of a different twist. It’s at Kathy Sali’s home in Naches Heights.

When building her home she specifically had cooking classes in mind. “I love to cook and entertain,” Sali said. “I was taking classes when I could. The house has a beautiful kitchen. We really designed the house around the kitchen.”
One to three times per month, a chef comes in and offers a themed night out for a group. It is a full dinner, where the guests don aprons and learn how to cook the dish. “They pick up all sorts of things, like knife skills,” Sali said.

There is also wine tasting with each course as part of the experience. Her dining table seats 14, so the group stays to about that number.

“It’s a social sort of evening. It’s a fun night out. These people really create friendships. There is nothing like breaking bread together. In a restaurant, you can’t really get up and mingle with the other side of the table, but here you get to socialize while you cook. There is an energy that goes on that is hard to explain.”

Another plus: “It’s also good exposure for the chefs to make themselves known.”

Local chefs have offer some pretty fancy stuff, but Sali explains that it’s easier than people might think, and it’s something the guests can take with them and do at home.

Cooking For Health Naturopathic physician and acupuncturist Dr. Kara Lolley offers a holistic approach to health and healing. Newly located at 307 S. 12th Ave. in Yakima, her practice also includes associates who share her mission.
Eating right is a big part of what they do.

“I advocate whole foods eating, to use food as medicine for anti-inflammatory and immunity. When I tell patients about eating beans and vegetables, some look at me with a blank stare.”

That’s where her cooking classes come in.

With a focus on using food as a tool for feeling good, the recipes are simple so students can use them at home.
“It’s about learning the basics,” Lolley said. “It’s really fun.”

They created an instruction area at the clinic and it can accommodate classes of about 10 or 12 people.
There is a real need for it here,” she said. It’s all about education at her clinic,Lolley added, and teaching the basics of whole foods cooking fits right in with what they are trying to accomplish.

Anna Fulton, who is a nurse practitioner and has been seeing Lolley for a while, has already benefited from attending the cooking classes.

“Dr. Kara basically saved my life. Since seeing her I’ve lost 30 pounds and gotten off four of my medications. She’s really developed a healing community.” Cooking, she added, is such a huge part of helping someone become healthy. “It feeds the body.”

But classes are more than just gaining knowledge.

“They are a hoot. Vicki Jo (Grimshaw, the instructor) is very knowledgeable and excited. Everything she uses means something and has a story, like her heirloom tomatoes.”

Fulton has a hectic schedule, and she used to come home and eat whatever was available. But since taking the cooking classes, she has changed her whole menu dynamic. “It has had a profound difference in how I’m cooking. Now I cook on the weekends and have it ready all week.

“I was overweight all my life; I was always so hungry. Now I am feeding my body and I’m not hungry. I feel fabulous.”
Donna Lovins is also a patient of Lolley’s and has benefited from attending the cooking classes. “With food, you become part of the maintenance and support. It’s a lifestyle.”

The cooking classes center around recipes that are gentle and don’t have ingredients that can create problems for some people, like gluten, dairy, eggs, etc.

“It’s helped me to stretch my imagination. It has made be branch out and try new things,”

Lovins said. She now cooks waffles, tortillas, pancakes, sourdough bread, and more. The cooking classes are fun, but even more fun are the memories she is creating with her grandchildren. “My grandkids love to help me cook.”
A class schedule for February/ March is now up at and also her Facebook page.