Spice Up Your Cooking Game on the Central Coast

By Gretchen Ammerman | Monday, January 27, 2020

There's a saying in the writing world: "Write the book you want to read."

When my husband and I moved to the central Oregon coast, one of the few things we missed about living in a city was the dearth of Indian food and vegan restaurants.

So this weekend, we're going to make a twist on the above quote. We're going to learn to make the food we want to eat the Lincoln City Culinary Center.

The center opens its commercial kitchen for single-day cooking events, where you can sit back and watch the food preparation then get to enjoy a great meal, or roll up your sleeves and jump in on the preparations.

In addition to chef and culinary center manager Donna Riani, the instructors include local celebrity chefs like Ethan Granberg from Olde Line Lanes and Rob Pounding from the Blackfish Cafe.

Donna Riani

Culinary Assistant Larayn Higgins started as a student, became a volunteer, then was hired when the assistant position opened.

“There's never I time I walk through those doors and don’t learn something,” she said. “The facilities are so amazing, and the fact that as a student you get to actually go into a commercial kitchen and play around with all the equipment is so fun.”

According to Higgins, the food that’s prepared there is organic and locally sourced as much as possible.

“We get products sourced in Oregon even down to the salt,” she said. “It really helps you realize how rich Oregon food production is that you can get almost everything you need here.”

Classes range from the vegan class I'll be attending, which still has space open, to a hands-on bacon class that filled up almost immediately. 

The Indian food demo, on Friday, February 1, is not as interactive, but you still get a great meal after watching how the chefs prepare coconut curry chickpeas and carrots with crispy shallots, Basmati rice and vegan roti (Indian flatbread).

Vegan coconut curry chickpeas and carrots with crispy shallots

Another class that still has space and would make a romantic gift for your valentine is the Italian American Valentines Demo, on Friday, February 14. The menu includes toasted bread with European butter and prosciutto, scallops with pinenut breadcrumbs, gnocchi with brown butter sage sauce and tiramisu cake with espresso mascarpone cream.

The center also loves to prove that just because people have dietary restrictions, it doesn't mean they require a limited menu. The Hands-on Gluten Intolerant Latin American class, on Saturday, February 29, will have students learning how to prepare shrimp ceviche with tostones, chorizo and Manchebo croquettes, chicken picadillo empanadas, steak, caramelized onion and blue cheese tostado, corn tortillas, tequila beans, onion and tomato curtido and white chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache.

Gluten-free chicken picadillo empanadas

Now that I've gotten you sufficiently hungry, grab a snack and then go sign up for a demo or hands-on class at the Lincoln City Culinary Center, located at 801 SW U.S. Highway 101.

For other things to do on the Central Coast, check out our Daytime Events calendar. For evening entertainment, our Nightlife page steers you to the top happenings on the Central Coast.

About the Author Gretchen Ammerman
Gretchen Ammerman received an Environmental Science degree from Humboldt State University and was soon running a state environmental agency in Hawaii. She gave it up for the glamorous life of the freelance writer. This led to steady employment as a newspaper editor in Lincoln City, OR, where she knew she was doing well when the paper was threatened with a lawsuit within a week. Though the work was rewarding, she returned to freelance writing to have more freedom to explore the beautiful state of Oregon with her adopted dog, Scout.