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  • The Chopping Blog

A Gift of Culinary Boot Camp Benefits Everyone

Posted by Andrea on Jan 12, 2024

We always say that attending Culinary Boot Camp changes how you cook for life. Not only do students learn new skills, they are also exposed to new techniques and ingredients, but most importantly, Culinary Boot Camp students learn to think about cooking differently than they have in the past.

The benefits to the individual are countless, but so are the perks to the people in their lives. This is why you should gift Culinary Boot Camp to your partner. It's a win-win for everyone!

Nancy at Culinary Boot Camp 2Nancy (right) and her classmate in Culinary Boot Camp 2

Nancy Grander always considered herself a pretty good home cook, but she constantly felt rushed to get dinner on the table. She told her husband Matt she wanted to attend The Chopping Block's Culinary Boot Camp 1 and he gifted it to her in February 2022. As a result, Nancy's way of thinking about cooking completely changed. 

"I used to be a very unorganized cook. My meals consisted of everything thrown together at the last minute. But Culinary Boot Camp taught me to approach cooking from a different way. Now, I take my time and do a lot of prepping in advance and slow down to enjoy the process," said Nancy. 

Matt has also directly benefitted from this shift in Nancy's mindset about cooking. "It’s better for a couple of reasons because if she does the meal prep in advance in the afternoon, we have more time to enjoy a glass of wine together and discuss our day. She's not rushed to make the meal, and the meals are of a higher quality," said Matt.

Nancy and classmatesNancy (left) and classmates in Culinary Boot Camp 2

Nancy said Culinary Boot Camp 1 gave her more confidence in the kitchen as well as the ability to play with flavor profiles. But she didn't want to stop there, and Matt was 100% on board. 

"When Nancy said she would like to attend Culinary Boot Camp 2, I didn't even let her finish. The answer was yes! Nancy looked at it as a gift for her, but it’s really a gift for our entire family, even generations to come because she likes to share that gift with everyone in our family. It actually made me laugh because I was the one benefitting directly from her improved skills," said Matt. So, Nancy enrolled in the second Boot Camp and completed the course in October 2023.

Of course, there's a financial and time commitment associated with each class, but compared to professional culinary school, our programs are affordable and reasonable for home cooks. As the person who works as the concierge for our Culinary Boot Camp students, I have never had one person say they didn't find value the course. "It may seem expensive, but you have to consider the benefits that will be received by investing the time and the money and honing those cooking skills. Everyone wins!" according to Matt.  

Nancy and classmates in Culinary Boot Camp 2Nancy (right) and classmates in Culinary Boot Camp 2

Another benefit of Nancy's improved cooking skills is that the couple eats out at restaurants far less frequently. There's obviously cost savings associated with eating at home more, but Nancy and Matt say they prefer it for other reasons. Their restaurant choices when they do go out have shifted to places that prepare food she wouldn't make at home. "We have a home in Charleston, South Carolina, and they have a great culinary scene there so we'll go places that prepare dishes Nancy doesn't normally cook. Even in Chicago where there is no shortage of great restaurants, we have a hard time having a better meal than she can make at home. That wasn't always the case but now the only time we really go out is when Nancy needs a break," said Matt. "Everything is different now. We used to go to restaurants and wonder how they folded the omelet that particular way, but that's how Nancy does it now!" 

Nancy sometimes calls Matt her sous chef, but they have come to an agreement when it comes to distribution of labor: she cooks and he cleans up. 

The GrandersMatt and Nancy Grander

The rest of Nancy's family is also directly benefitting from her improved skills in the kitchen. The couple has two grown boys, who have spent the last 25 years eating pork and sauerkraut as a family New Year's Day tradition. Nancy learned to make this dish from her mom, who simply threw the pork in the Crock Pot. 

Nancy and her momNancy and her mom

But this year, she applied a new technique to the dish that she had learned during Culinary Boot Camp. "This year, I seasoned the meat and seared it before putting in the Crock Pot. That simple little step made a huge difference by sealing in the juices in the pork. It changed the dish completely! My sons rated it higher than the prime rib we had on Christmas Day. We typically eat this pork dish out of obligation but this year, no one could get enough of it," said Nancy. 

This past holiday season was also special because Nancy entertained the couples' business colleagues with a nice meal in their home. "When you invite people to a family meal, it changes the dynamics of your relationships and brings people closer. It's a wonderful thing to bring friends, family and coworkers into your home," said Matt. "Not too many people turn down dinner invitations at our house anymore!" added Nancy.

Nancy has also been practicing the new skills learned in Culinary Boot Camp 2, which focuses on different techniques such as fresh pasta, shellfish, breads and desserts. "I've made the Turtle Cheesecake at home, and I would have never tried that in the past. Baking was outside of my box before this class, but now I feel more confident," said Nancy.

Nancy cake decoratingNancy (right) decorates her cake in Culinary Boot Camp 2

When Nancy looks back on her experiences in the Culinary Boot Camps, she says not only did her culinary skills get a big boost, but her confidence did as well. "The first class I took with Executive Chef/Owner Lisa Counts, I told her about a class I had taken at another cooking school and the chef would walk around the kitchen and criticize the students' work: 'You call that a dice?' He asked me. At The Chopping Block, Chef Lisa and the other chefs step in and show you the proper way to do something, but they are always supportive. The Chopping Block creates such an encouraging atmosphere. It's never 'You're not doing it right, but rather, let's look at this in a different way.' That opened my eyes to different techniques, and I liked getting different perspectives from different chefs throughout the week," said Nancy.

Nancy and classmates at Culinary Boot Camp 2

Nancy (left) and classmates in Culinary Boot Camp 2

Do you know someone who loves to cook but could use a confidence and skill boost? Give them the gift of cooking in the form of Culinary Boot Camp! As Matt says, "It's gifting a gift to your partner that is really a gift to you!" With Valentine's Day around the corner, this just could be the gift that enhances your relationship. 

Learn More about Culinary Boot Camp



Topics: boot camp, culinary school, culinary boot camp, professional cooking school, chef

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