Visitors from around the world flock to Asheville Mountain Kitchen for the chance to cook meals with fresh ingredients in a comfortable home environment. Located just minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the boutique cooking school boasts spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains, offering a feast for the eyes as well as other senses. Weather permitting, some classes may even take place on the deck outside.
Small classes allow cooking students to get to know each other in a relaxed way while they create a themed menu based on a holiday, season, or favorite cookbook. Depending on how complex the individual recipes are, and the number of people in the group, each class will prepare 3-6 dishes. After meal preparation is over, students sit down to together to break bread and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The focus in on dishes that are easily broken down into steps that even a novice cook can follow, so that students can learn proper cooking techniques. The menu often draws on the chef’s extensive experience with Mediterranean cuisine, including the Middle East, as well as Thai, Indian, and Chinese dishes.
Hoping to break away from the common stereotype of Southern food as heavy or fried, Asheville Mountain Kitchen focuses on light, healthful preparations using seasonal ingredients, many of which are sourced right in the Asheville area. As part of the experience, guests can visit some of the farms that provide ingredients for the cooking school, which adds considerable authenticity and appeal.
Although guests are encouraged to report food allergies and dietary restrictions when booking, the chef is reportedly excellent at accommodating special dietary requests, sometimes even at the last minute.
The reason for Asheville Mountain Kitchen’s success is owner Ofri Gilan. The chef’s love of communal cooking began on her childhood kibbutz, where everyone learned to participate in both meal preparation and harvesting ingredients. Since that time, she has traveled to all four corners of the world and received a master’s degree in urban design from Harvard University, all the while maintaining her strong interest in proper cooking techniques and international cuisine. She began offering personal chef services a decade ago and has counseled hospitals on how to train patients to eat more healthfully.
This focus on food as medicine hasn’t changed with her move to Asheville several years ago. She strives to create food that is both delicious and healthful and truly believes in the restorative properties of preparing and sitting down to eat a meal in the company of others.
Things that Are Good to Know:
- Online booking makes it easy to reserve space in a class
- Both group and private classes are available
- Asheville Mountain Kitchen offers cooking lessons as a corporate team building event
- Vegan and gluten-free options are available
- Asheville Mountain Kitchen is strictly BYOB
- If the minimum of six persons per class isn’t met, the cooking school will issue a full refund
- You get 100 percent of your money back if you cancel a booking 24 hours or more in advance
If you are looking for a boutique cooking class in a home setting, where the focus is on fresh ingredients, healthful preparations, and international cuisine, Chef Ofri Gilan’s Asheville Mountain Kitchen is the place for you.
You will learn proper cooking techniques and the regional history of the dishes you help prepare. And of course, you will get copies of the recipes so that you can replicate the dishes in your own kitchen later on.
Guests can request an authentic “farm-to-table” experience, visiting some of the places where owner Ofri Gilan sources her kitchen’s menu items.