Editorial Column: My experience in Heatherwood's cooking class

Our main course: seared halibut with crispy capers and white wine buerre blanc over spaghetti squash with tomatoes, peas and sunflower-parmesan au gratin. Photo by Matthew D'Ippolito

When I agreed to join staff and guests at Heatherwood Senior Living Community in Honey Brook for their monthly cooking class Wednesday night, I didn’t quite know what to expect.

I figured we’d cook a quick entrée, I’d get some good photos and videos out of it, and maybe I’d learn something, too. Little did I know we would produce a four course meal.

Under the instruction of Chef Chris Darmstaetter, our class rolled out, braided and wrapped the dough for homemade challah bread; filled zucchini boats with a sausage, cheese, mushroom and garlic stuffing; cooked a spaghetti squash entrée with tomatoes, peas and sunflower-parmesan au gratin and topped with halibut and capers; and even learned how to make banana chocolate won-tons, which we sampled with a homemade caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

The class cooks in pairs, and I had the pleasure of stumbling through my meal preparation with the help of Heatherwood Sales Director Heather Goodno. I’m very grateful to her for saving our meal a couple of times.


Darmstaetter made sure to emphasize safety first with the portable single-burner stoves, demonstrating proper use step-by-step beforehand.

Going into it, I was certain all my food would turn out terrible, since I have very little firsthand cooking experience beyond Ramen noodles and Easy Mac. But thanks to Darmstaetter’s excellent teaching abilities (and recipes), I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted my food – and we got to take home all the recipes we cooked, to boot.

With Darmstaetter’s laid back lesson and the casual atmosphere, peppered with a little humor throughout, our class of 13 had a very educational lesson that was also a lot of fun, and showcased the kinds of activities Heatherwood has to offer.

I think I’ll be returning for the September lesson and joining as a permanent member of the class.

Starting this month, the class moves to the last Thursday of each month. For more information about joining the class, or other activities Heatherwood has to offer, call (610) 273-9301.