Gleaming surfaces and healthy produce at the state-of-the-art facility.
Chef Julie Andrews is eager to begin chopping in the Learning Kitchen at UW Health at The American Center, 4602 Eastpark Blvd. Andrews works as program coordinator at the new, fully equipped kitchen in the five-story hospital on Madison’s east side that opened Aug. 17. The facility has a special focus on wellness, and the kitchen is part of that initiative.
The space includes flat-screen monitors above the demo area to provide an up-close view of preparation and cooking. There’s room for 20 students to participate in hands-on activities and for another 50 spectators. Courses will teach people, including children, to prepare a meal or learn a skill through sessions that last from 90 minutes to two and a half hours.
Classes offered in the next couple months include “Cooking with Kids: Smart Snackers,” “Food as Medicine: Gluten-Free Eats,” “Freezer Meal Frenzy” and “Knife Skills 101.” Sessions are open to the public, and class costs range from $20 to $45.
“Asian Flair,” coming up on Sept. 8, is one Andrews particularly looks forward to teaching, because that type of food inspired the Michigan native’s culinary path: “I love stir-fries or things you’d order as take-out, like pot stickers and egg rolls and noddle bowls,” she says. “We would go out for Chinese food, and I had no idea how anyone made pot stickers. Growing up, I thought, I have to learn how to make these.”
Andrews is a certified dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition from Eastern Michigan University and a culinary arts degree from Appleton’s Fox Valley Technical College; she also has experience in weight management counseling. But she avoids using the word “healthy” in her teaching (it can be perceived as a turn-off), instead focusing on quality ingredients.
In addition to current one-session classes, Andrews envisions a multi-week series for diabetics, with each session focusing on a different food group. “How do you have the right amount of protein and carbohydrates to best manage your diabetes?” she says. The class will be “a combination of lecture and doing it all in the kitchen.”
Cooking from scratch is a critical step in empowering people to eat better, says Andrews. The biggest question she’d like people to ask is: “What’s in my food?” “It’s super-important that people are less concerned about calories and more concerned about ingredients.”
For more information, see bit.ly/1WFl7Fb or call 608-440-6400.