OCC is cooking up new classes for guest students

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 3, 2012

FARMINGTON HILLS —  The smells of fall are in the air — fallen leaves, sweet spices and harvest favorites. But don’t forget the aroma of fresh baked bread. From now through November, the Oakland Community College Culinary Studies Institute is opening its doors to the community with a variety of baking courses.  

According to OCC culinary instructor Darlene Levinson, nearby residents have long been asking the school to offer shorter courses where even the most novice of cooks can brush up on food preparation basics.

“We haven’t done a lot of this, but we’re trying to get the community to be able to take classes with us,” said Levinson. “Some (classes) are two nights, but most of them are one night. You’re going to be working in a professional kitchen with professional equipment, and we keep the classes on the small side, so you get a lot of one-on-one with the instructors.”

The courses being offered by the Orchard Ridge campus of the college are Basic Baking, Artisan Breads, Healthy Baking, Holiday Breads, A Night of Pasta and Wine, and Decorating Holiday Cupcakes and Making Holiday Cocktails. For the Artisan Breads, Healthy Baking and Holiday Breads courses, students need to first take the Basic Baking course, but for the rest there are no prerequisites.

In the Artisan Breads class, students will learn how to bake French baguettes, potato bread and Asiago cheese bread, among other items, while in the Healthy Breads class students will learn recipes to cater to a variety of dietary concerns, including gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free breads.

Levinson and her fellow instructor, Athena Bolger, are both level one sommeliers, and together they’ll show students how to pair the perfect wine with homemade pasta dishes in the Night of Pasta and Wine class, and they’ll get creative in satisfying that holiday sweet tooth with custom cupcakes and fancy libations to make any wintertime party a success.

“These are designed to be fun. Everything is hands-on, and they come with recipe packets, so you can do it at home, also,” said Levinson.

Among those signed up for the classes already is Sandra Brown. She previously attended a wine tasting seminar at the college and enjoyed it so much she returns for classes as often as she’s able.

“The instructional staff is excellent, and I have faith that what I learn in the class will be critical to really doing a quality job,” said Brown. “I always wanted to learn how to bake well, and this is something I’m very much looking forward to.”

Course prices range from $65 to $125. To learn more about the classes, call (248) 232-4178 or visit www.OaklandCC.edu/ce. The Orchard Ridge Campus is located at 27055 Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills.