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HGS Home Chef

by Kathryn Boughton

The kitchen may be the most frequently used room during the holidays as seasonal delights are prepared for parties, family gatherings and gifts. But what home chef doesn’t long for fresh ideas and more finely honed culinary skills when facing the task of entertaining?

Help is now close at hand in the form of cooking classes at HGS Home Chef in Hillsdale NY. “We specifically named It Home Chef because it is all about helping the average home chef to enjoy cooking more and to stretch their repertoire,” said owner Matthew White. “I have a whole stable of chefs, some of whom are restaurant owners, some are instructors and others are bestselling cookbook writers. For instance, Alana Chernila, who lives here in the Berkshires and who recently published The Homemade Kitchen, just did a pie demonstration.”

He said cooking is always of interest to people, especially in the country. “In the city, people go out to restaurants,” he explained, “but here, with all the great meat and vegetables, it makes sense go to a farmer’s market and then come home to prepare a meal for your guests. There is nothing better than homemade food.”

He listed some highlights of upcoming classes: Whole Grain Baking, a Mexican Food Primer, Sour Dough 101, Chinese Noodles, Children’s Cheese Making with Alana Chernila, Seed Shopping with Margaret Roach, Cheese 101 with international cheese expert Kate Arding and a special chef master class with Serge Madikian, owner and chef of Serevan. “It’s a wonderful and very diverse group of classes,” he said.

White initiated his cooking classes on Labor Day weekend and they have proved a heady draw for cooking aficionados ever since - so much so that he advises those interested in a particular class not to delay in signing up. “Some classes sell faster than others, so, while there is always a chance you can sign up a week before,” he said, “that is pretty rare. Most classes are quite limited in size, ranging from 12 people up to 25. Most typical is 12 people, max.”

“What really sets us apart is that no one else is doing what we are doing,” he continued. “We have two kitchens dedicated to teaching in a fully restored Victorian. We have a kitchen store, but the classes are not in the store. It’s really like learning how to cook in someone’s dream kitchen. You’re not surrounded by a bunch of merchandise.”

The merchandise is close at hand, however. Just across the street, at 2642 State Route 23 is the Hillsdale General Store, which White opened four years ago and offers all the cookware, tools and gadgets a home chef could possibly want.

Sixteen classes have already been offered. “We’ll be announcing more classes soon,” said White. “We’ll be having another children’s class - pizza making for kids, as well as some nice basics classes like Basics of Eggs. There are millions of topics. I don’t think we will ever run out of ideas.”

He noted that cooking classes make great gifts. “People can buy online or at the store. They might want to get a gift certificate so the person can choose a class.”

Those interested can click on the link below. “The best way to see the latest classes is to go to the website, but some sell out quickly. So if people want alerts, they can join our e-mail list so they are the first to know,” White said.

HGS Home Chef can be reached at 518-325-3310; the Hillsdale General Store can be reached at 518-325-7000.