Locals interested in learning more about vegan cuisine will soon have a regular, hands-on opportunity to do so. Starting in June, End of the Line Café will begin holding cooking classes on the first and third Monday of each month. Jen Knight, the vegan café’s owner and head chef, will lead the classes, which will focus on teaching people how to cook at home, while introducing them to new vegan products that they may not be familiar with.
In the classes, Knight hopes to show people that they are not limited to a small number of ingredients in vegan cuisine, and will give them the basic skills and knowledge to cook food they like to eat and can get excited about. Knight views the classes as a way for people to take “…baby steps into a healthier lifestyle and change their diets a little bit at a time.” Students will receive a tapas plate that demonstrates how the alternative ingredients can be used and will learn how to create different dishes with those products. Attendees will also leave with select vegan products and printed information so they can experiment with different dishes at home.
This August will mark the ninth year that Knight has owned End of the Line. Having considered teaching cooking classes for years, Knight was prompted to do so as increasing numbers of customers have come to the café looking for guidance on how to change their diet, many on doctors’ orders. Customers at End of the Line Café include cancer survivors, and children and adults with food allergies whose doctors have instructed them to quit eating dairy, gluten or other food allergens.
Recognizing that people can face financial and technical challenges when they first venture into vegan cuisine, Knight hopes the classes will educate customers in how to move away from pre-packaged vegan and gluten-free food products toward less expensive alternatives. Particularly in the current economy, people can become frustrated trying to cook for themselves, and they tend to turn to cheap food that may fill them up but lacks nutrients and vitamins to keep them healthy. “Diet shouldn’t infringe on your mortgage payment,” Knight states, and by expanding the number of dishes people know how to prepare with the same ingredient(s), she hopes to help people alleviate strains on their health and wallets.
In addition to the bi-monthly Monday classes, End of the Line will also offer more specialized cooking classes on Sundays as customers request additional help with aspects of vegan cooking that are of interest to them. Possible topics include vegan baking, raw cuisine, food for those with food allergies or sensitivities, and a kids cooking class. Sunday classes will be held once a month and will need 10 or more people to sign up in order to take place.
Adding cooking classes is one step in Knight’s efforts to expand the café’s offerings. Over the last few years, the restaurant has expanded beyond soups and salads by adding Sunday Brunch, Thursday night dinners, and by changing its menu up a little each year. Additionally, the staff offers full catering, having prepared meals, baked goods and party trays for weddings, birthday parties and baby showers, among other events. The café, which serves customers ranging from 8 months to 80 years old, also sells ingredients, including its cashew-based vegan cheese, by the pound and half pound.
Children are welcome to attend the bi-monthly cooking classes, which will be limited to 25 to 30 people. Those interested in the Monday classes will need to call by the Friday preceding the class to sign up. The cost for each class will be $20 to $25, and customers will go home with ingredients, and information and instructions on how to use the ingredients beyond what they prepare that night. For environmental reasons, Knight asks that, if possible, customers bring containers to carry their excess ingredients home to embark on their adventures in vegan cuisine.
VEGAN COOKING CLASSES AT END OF THE LINE CAFÉ
WHEN: First and third Mondays of each month
WHERE: End of the Line Café, 610 E. Wright St.