An Encinitas business owner has come up with an innovative way to conduct cooking classes for unlimited amounts of people. Debbie Kornberg is the owner of The Spice Way in Encinitas. She offers cooking classes at her retail store but has limited physical space. So she came up with another idea.
“Driving to work one day, a lightbulb went off in my head. What if I was able to offer live cooking classes and all the participants were able to cook from their own kitchen? What if we used the latest technology of virtual meeting spaces and could all cook together in real time using the same recipes? What if, by the end of the class, all of the participants had a meal ready to serve their family? As I was dreaming about different possibilities, I had an instant feeling that I was on to something really unique that filled a need while, at the same time, being true to my mission of teaching people how to prepare a quick and easy meal that is healthy, nutritious and tastes delicious all through the world of spices.”
So Kornberg created “Spice It Up with Deb, A Live Cooking Experience,” where participants are able to log on to an online platform and cook with her in real time. Participants can sign up for a single class or a set of four classes. Before the scheduled class, they receive a kit of spices and specialty condiments, recipes and a shopping list. Participants can also watch recorded classes and connect with one another through on online forum.
Teaching comes naturally to Kornberg, who holds a master’s degree in education and was an administrator in schools for 20 years. In fact, she wishes something like this was available when her children were younger and she was working full time. She remembers often struggling with what to make for dinner.
“I would often give in and either order out or just buy the packaged food from the market because it was fast and I know my family would eat it,” she confesses. “I would feel guilty as a mother and wife for not providing my family with healthier meals, but I was at a loss for knowing how to prepare something quick, easy, nutritious and flavorful. Once I learned how to cook with spices, it became a real game changer. Instantly my food started to taste better and I didn’t feel the need to buy prepackaged food. I developed a number of quick and easy recipes so when I would come home from work and need to get dinner on the table, I had a variety of options that everyone liked.”
Some of the dishes Kornberg has lined up include Shawarma Chicken, Moroccan Butternut Squash, Pomegranate Mint Salmon and Satay Chicken. She also offers ways to substitute proteins with vegetarian options and still use the same spices. All recipes must meet a few simple criteria: They have to be quick and easy to prepare. They have to use lots of interesting spices to ensure great flavor. And they have to support a healthy lifestyle.
In Kornberg’s Encinitas store, she offers a large selection of spice blends and has developed quite a few recipes around what she sells.
“I’ve found people get excited to cook when it is something different. They get inspired and can feel like they are traveling the world without having to leave their kitchen. I do a lot of Mediterranean, Moroccan and Middle Eastern cooking. One of my favorite dishes to make is Shakshuka which consists of a well-seasoned tomato sauce with poached eggs on top. The dish is believed to have originated from Tunisia but is a very popular dish in Israel today. Another favorite dish I love to make is a whole roasted cauliflower with turmeric and a tahini dressing. It is a crowd stopper because the cauliflower turns different shades of yellow from the turmeric.”
Kornberg shares that using spices in cooking is one of the best-kept secrets to making food taste better. “The idea is to create well-rounded flavors using the different tastes of sweet, salty, sour and bitter. So, for example, combining paprika (sweet), sumac (sour) and cumin (bitter) are a great combination for seasoning anything from meat and poultry to scrambled eggs.”
“Spice It Up with Deb” will launch its first class on June 23. She’s already conducted some beta classes with friends from San Diego and Los Angeles which were great successes. “It was like we were having a party, even though we were in our own kitchens because everything was happening in real time. So we got to hang out together for about an hour, make dinner and then have a meal ready to serve our families.”
Classes will be offered once a week on Sundays in the late afternoon for four weeks at a time. To learn more or sign up, go to www.spiceitupwithdeb.com. Or contact Kornberg directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.