Relish offers hearty helping of new classes

“It’s very empowering to cook for your family, your friends or yourself.”

Melinda Powers opened Relish after 14 years of renting the space out, initially unsure of what to do with it herself (Paul Rowley/Staff Photo).

Melinda Powers opened Relish after 14 years of renting the space out, initially unsure of what to do with it herself (Paul Rowley/Staff Photo).

Some people have an unmistakable flair for all things culinary. For everyone else, there’s Relish, the island’s cooking school.

“We want to teach people and demystify what it’s like to cook a great meal,” said owner Melinda Powers, who opened the business last year next door to her flagship enterprise, The Hardware Store Restaurant, on the corner of Vashon Highway and Bank Road. “Sometimes it’s overwhelming for people — they don’t know what to buy or what they can make.”

New for 2019, Powers said she and her cooking staff are experimenting with diverse class offerings and lessons. Many have packed into the small space, such as for the paella party last month, which sold out.

Baking camps for kids and teens have been successful. Tickets for the summer Italian dinner this week — think grilled eggplant, a wild mushroom polenta and a rack of lamb simmering in the oven served with Italian salsa verde — are gone as well. But there are still openings for Relish’s premier summer event, cooking with produce purchased from the Vashon Farmer’s Market, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31.

Powers said that the classes with the most unique and culturally inspired offerings have garnered the best responses. They usually wrap up by 8 p.m., but Powers said most of her patrons stay much later to share their feast with one another. All of the ingredients are fresh and sourced locally.

Ticket prices range, but assistance may be available depending on availability by emailing hello@relish.com.

Powers said her goal is to provide an elevated gathering experience for those looking to try something new and for making connections between fellow foodies.

“We just really want people to have the knowledge and to feel confident about their skills,” she said. “It’s very empowering to cook for your family, your friends or yourself.”

Islander Nathan Gilmour, a chef who teaches at Relish, said he believes that even with the rise of fast, casual food that caters to those looking for a decent menu on their time, people still want to know how to cook a good, quality meal. It’s why he said they are willing to make a commitment of several hours to hone their craft and gain enough confidence to go off-script, beyond following a recipe from a box or magazine.

“They’re game to play, they’re here, and they’re being very present,” he said, adding that the guidance and knowledge he imparts is practical and worthwhile. Guests will learn more than how to peel a carrot.

Lola Reed, Relish’s director, said both accomplished cooks and beginners can expect to whip up a medley of tasty confections in the kitchen.

“For whatever level people are at, there’s a lot for them to take away,” she said.

For more information, class listings, registration and booking inquiries, see relishvashon.com.

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