Interactive Cooking Events Offer a Chance to Bond Over a Common Love of Food
Pre-Wedding Gatherings Get Classy with Epicurean Themes
Imagine a bride-to-be who loves to cook. She mails her bridesmaids a small, custom cutting board with an invitation attached with a ribbon, wrapped in a small, padded envelope with elegant calligraphy. Maybe there is a sprig of lavender or rosemary tucked inside.
Some weeks later, the members of the bridal party arrive at a culinary school with the foodie-related gift in hand, happily accepting the champagne cocktail offered at the door and ready to dive into a hands-on cooking class.
What could be better? No debauchery or tacky party buses. No worries, no fuss, no clean-up. And aprons, too!
This actually happens. But it’s not just for bridal showers. Cook Street School of Culinary Arts in Denver is now hosting rehearsal dinners, bachelor parties (more cocktail-focused, of course), welcome gatherings, farewell brunches and more. These inclusive events are a chance for brides, grooms, friends and family to bond over the common love of food—while getting an education in how to cook for their partners. Think of it as an elevated cooking class masquerading as a pre-wedding event. Lina Kleinschmidt of Aurora recently hosted her rehearsal dinner at Cook Street, much to the delight of her 20 guests. “Everyone was obsessed with the dinner,” remembers the 29-year-old bride. “They were talking about it during the entire wedding weekend. It was perfect for us because food is such a huge part of our relationship,” she says, adding that her now-husband, Zach Jennings, is an instructor at Cook Street’s professional culinary program.
Their guests were able to watch the culinary team cook and plate the dinner, with explanations of every dish and descriptions of the techniques that went into the preparation of the meal. With a large mirror overhead and a massive stove, the group watched the talented staff create their highly personal and customized menu. “My generation is going with more of what we want to do rather than what people expect us to do,” says Kleinschmidt. “When Zach gave a speech, he started crying tears of happiness that he could share his love of food with everyone who means the most to us.”
Cook Street owner Lindsey Reese agrees that the appeal of culinary wedding gatherings is a generational thing. “We’re seeing people who want to provide an experience for their guests,” she says. “Because of COVID, this generation realizes the value of cooking at home with friends and family. Now, they want to think outside the box for traditional events like weddings and let their guest be hands-on.”
Reese offers two experiences for wedding events: a culinary competition, with a choice of crepe- or ravioli-making, including a chef demo and a pantry of arbitrary items to use in the competition, with judges and awards; or a cooking class, where guests learn how to prepare a three-course meal, along with knife skills and searing and sautéing instruction while enjoying the meal as the night progresses. The couple can curate their own menu or suggest a culinary theme, such as Greek (learn how to make moussaka!), Pan-Asian or Mediterranean.
In addition to the culinary aspect of the private space, Reese will add on culinary-related gifts such as wine openers or cutting boards, and will even arrange for flowers, photo booths and balloon installations. “Culinary events are kind of new to the wedding event market,” she says. “It’s a whole new area for us to tap into.
“Instead of hosting a standard sit-down dinner, we are able to encourage our guests to leave their seats and get involved in all the fun. It’s a lovely, inclusive and educational environment that keeps everyone happy and coming back for more!”
—Maddie DeVico, events coordinator, Cook Street School of Culinary Arts
COOK STREET SCHOOL OF CULINARY ARTS
43 W. Ninth Ave., Denver
Rebecca Gart is a freelance food writer based out of Vail and Denver, where she lives with her husband and teenage son.