Start From Scratch is a free 10-week cooking class that teaches post-secondary students how to create simple home-cooked meals. Saskatoon-born food writer Dan Clapson began the program in Calgary in 2010, meeting immediate success and support from both media and restaurants. It was then expanded to Mount Royal University, and a U of S course was established in 2012.
Local chef Thomas Brown is teaching the Saskatoon class, which will be held on campus in the Thorvaldson building. Brown met Clapson through some mutual friends while the latter was traveling and was asked to be the Saskatoon area instructor immediately. He is also the co-owner and chef of Wild Cuisine Catering, and has apprenticed under executive chef Michael Link.
The classes take place Tuesday evenings, in order to best accomodate most schedules. During this time, students will be instructed on a wide range of dishes and cooking techniques. Topics range from preparing meals on a tight budget to family dinners and appetizers for parties. This year Brown also plans to bring in several guest speakers such as other chefs, farmers and food suppliers to help students understand just what the food scene in Saskatchewan is like.
There will be around 15 students in each class, which allows for hands-on instruction from the teachers and the creation of an engaging and fun learning space.
“This program is fundamentally important to help teach university students some basic cooking skills and give them confidence at home to cook and eat healthier,” Brown said. “Even if the students only cook a couple times at home after taking the course, then I consider that a win. Eating healthier makes yourself feel better and learn better at school.”
Relying on cheap or fast food is very tempting for the busy university student, especially when class workloads build up later in the term, so having a course near the beginning of the school year gives students a foundation to work from and an idea of how to balance quality meals with class, a job and all the homework that inevitabely piles up.
“It is so important for students to realize that eating habits are established at a young age and are carried through with you your entire life — good or bad habits.” Brown also stressed how diet is tied to health, and that positive eating habits can help prevent issues like obesity and diabetes.
If you can’t manage to cook anything more complicated than instant noodles, that’s not a problem. Start From Scratch accepts cooks of all skill levels. The previous year saw people who wanted to refine their skills as well as people who just wanted to know how to make something other than macaroni and cheese. The only requirement is to have a passion for food and to be willing to take the course seriously — with a small class size and only 10 sessions, every meal counts. But as long as applicants enjoy food and are willing to learn, anyone is welcome to apply and see what they can dish up.
The application deadline for Start From Scratch is Sept. 20, while the class itself begins on Tuesday, Oct.1. For more information on the program, visit startfromscratch.ca.