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Fall Cooking Classes Start at Culinary Institute

The Culinary Institute, housed within the Department of Retail, Tourism, and Hospitality Management in UT’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, will host a variety of community cooking classes and wine dinners this fall.

Each class is $50 and will be held at the Culinary Institute, 2712 Neyland Drive. Participants must wear closed-toe shoes, pull back long hair, and cover their hair. Registration is available online.

The fall schedule:

E. and J. Gallo California Wine Diner—6:30–9 p.m. Thursday, September 19. Participants will taste a variety of wines from California accompanied by five dishes by Chef Jeff Ross. Wine specialists Jennifer Benedict and Lee Payette will explain what makes the many types and styles of California wines unique. Seating is limited.

Fall Bounty—6–8:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 24. This hands-on class with Chef Jason Dean will teach participants about plant-based cooking and its health benefits. The menu includes roasted garlic rosemary pumpkin hummus; roasted butternut squash risotto with breaded maple-glazed brussels sprouts; tamari-seared tempeh; portobello mushroom, bacon, and thyme gravy; and carrot-apple-zucchini bread with lemon glaze.

East Meets West Cooking—6–8:30 p.m. Thursday, September 26. In this hands-on class led by Chef Cherry Brewer, participants will learn about the fundamentals of Thai cooking and its main ingredients. They will create three dishes including crispy shrimp donut, drunken spaghetti chicken, and Thai tea chiffon cake.

Wines of Portugal—6–8:30 p.m. Thursday, October 24. Portugal has more than 250 native grape varieties. Kelly Campbell will introduce attendees to Portugal’s grapes and growing regions. Tastings will be paired with five dishes created by Chef Gary Nicely.

Encore: Best Steakhouse—6–8:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 29. Learn how to cook a perfect steak every time. Participants will learn purchasing tips, cooking methods, and types of beef steaks. Instructor: Chef Joseph Blauvelt.

Cheese, Chocolate, and Wine—6–8:30 p.m. Thursday, November 7. Wine, cheese, and chocolate are three of the finest culinary pleasures, and finding the perfect match is a delicious experience. Join Jason Drotar and Chris Osborn as they break down the art of these pairings while creating a fabulous holiday event.

About the guest chefs/instructors:

  • Joseph Blauvelt has been in the food industry for 31 years. He graduated with a dual degree in culinary and pastry arts from Sullivan University before pursuing baking instruction from Gerard’s Bakery in Oberkorn, Luxembourg. He is currently an instructor for UT’s Culinary Institute.
  • Jennifer Benedict, business development manager for E. & J. Gallo Winery, has over 23 years of experience in the wine industry. She is certified as a specialist in wine and spirits through the Society of Wine Educators and has a passion for sharing her knowledge and connecting people to the world of wine.
  • Cherry Brewer earned a PhD in hospitality and tourism management from UT in 2017. She works as a program coordinator for the UT’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society and leads logistics, organization, hospitality, and communication efforts for the US Department of State Global Sports Mentoring Program. A native of Thailand, Brewer has over 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry in Thailand, Australia, France, and the United States.
  • Kelly Campbell is a certified wine specialist with over 20 years of experience in the industry. During her tenure with B&T Distributing, she shared her knowledge and helped vendors with sales. She now works as a sales representative with Best Brands Inc.
  • Jason Dean creates plant-based recipes for VIVE Alchemy, a health and wellness company that he co-owns.
  • Chris Osborne is head cheesemaker for Blackberry Farm. During his first job in a restaurant kitchen, he experienced natural and organic foods and became passionate about quality and taste. He also gained an appreciation for farmers and small producers, which lead him to Blackberry Farm in 2015.
  • Lee Payette is the vice president and director of wine for Beverage Control Inc. With 30 years of wine industry experience, he has traveled around the world, has extensive training in Bordeaux, and holds a Bordeaux ambassador title. Payette has served as a wine judge in Tennessee for 13 years and has judged competitions across the country.
  • Jeff Ross is Blackberry Farm’s Field School manager. He studied American history and enjoys showcasing his talents in his current position.
  • Jeff Drotar is the head sommelier at Blackberry Farm. After completing a second bachelor’s degree in restaurant management at the University of Central Florida he was selected to intern at Caesar’s, where he extended his beverage and restaurant knowledge at several establishments.

To pay by check or for more information, contact Terri Geiser at