Chefs share recipes in community enrichment class

By Dawn M. Aerts

Iron County Today

CEDAR CITY–If you’re looking for a culinary experience that offers a two-hour class with menu specialties prepared by featured chefs from Southern Utah restaurants, look no further than Southern Utah University’s (SUU) Community and Academic Enrichment Classes in Cedar City. The series is part of an effort to revive cooking classes for adults that cater to local interests and for personal enrichment.

“We are excited to bring this experience to Cedar City,” said Melynda Thorpe, of the academic program. “Each course will offer great recipes and cooking techniques, so participants can ask questions and get to know some of the chef’s as they prepare the dish.”

Course offerings will be presented at the IG Winery located in the historic district, with wine-pairing options (available) to complement many of the Chef-inspired recipes.  The ‘culinary’ series will be offered monthly with live demonstration as participants receive a recipe card to add to their own kitchen-recipe-collection.

This month, the series featured Chef Gerardo Reyes of Alfredo’s Ristorante Italiano.  Reyes, who grew up with an Italian family working in their restaurant in New Jersey, said he discovered a passion for cooking traditional recipes.  He later pursued his culinary talents in Miami, Florida, before opening the ‘Ristorante’ in Cedar City.

“When I was first hired into this profession, (for me) it was something to do,” said Reyes of his culinary background.  “I never knew I would grow to love it, but I learned from my family that cooking is what I am best at, and that dining should be an experience, not just something to eat.”

According to Thorpe, the SUU Community and Academic Enrichment program will offer 16 classes this spring.  Each are designed to create social engagement, teach a new hobby, bolster a resume or are for those who want to learn something new. “We collected input from residents on their interests, and with this feedback we bring elective education back to this community.”

Other chefs featured will be Chef Todd McDonald of Das Nest; a dessert lesson by JaNell Wood of Simply Delicious Confections; with other culinary presentations featuring Tae’s Tea and Centro Pizzeria and Chef Octavio Meija of Pisco Peruvian Cuisine among others.

More than 35 local enrollees attended the first culinary class to learn the art of preparing, ‘Pollo Avalona,’ (stuffed chicken in Bechamel sauce) and from the Reye’s menu, Vitello Carciofi, (sautéed veal with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes in a white garlic sauce.)

SUU Academic Enrichment director Melynda Thorpe is a former producer of the 2013-2014 cooking show, Southern Utah LIVE television network and BAJA cable, “Southern Utah Chef.”  The Southern Utah Chef series offered this spring represent C

chefs from Cedar City, Springdale, Kanab and St. George who will prepare specialties from a range of cultures and establishments.

Chef Shon Foster, of Sego Restaurant, Kanab, will also be one of two chefs to represent the restaurant earning the 2017 ‘Open Table’s Diner’s’ choice Award.  “Food should connect us to where we are and where we have been,” said Foster, who will present an American recipe, and Chef Harryson Tobing who will introduce students to an Indonesian dish.

“When people eat my food, I want them to find themselves in that moment, closing their eyes and letting their senses take them back to memories of life,” added Foster. “Then watch as the food elevates them to their new surroundings.”


Photo Caption:  The Southern Utah Chef Series will introduce class participants to a variety of cultural cuisines and the preparation of specialty recipes from area restaurants.  Other enrichment courses include: Social Dancing, Adobe Creative Suite, Photography, Yoga and Retirement Planning among others. To register for (SUU) Community Education, Enrichment classes visit, or email or call 435-865-8259.



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