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In Dining

Suzanne Monroe, a regular instructor at Milwaukee Public Market cooking classes, focuses on “real foods that nourish you and give you energy.”

Cooking classes make market an evening destination

The Milwaukee Public Market may be the only place in Milwaukee that can say it has the ability to host everything from bachelorette parties to corporate events. And it also hosts cooking classes.

Held on the second floor of the market, cooking classes are as varied as the delicacies on offer downstairs. Students can learn how to cook everything from wholesome, all-natural sweets to fiery Hispanic food. And coming in February students will have the opportunity to try their hands at the fine art of sushi.

"We order all the food from the vendors downstairs, so we can get just about anything anybody would want," says Jill Nickerson, culinary director at Milwaukee Public Market. "The possibilities are endless with what we can do."

The Market hosts both hands-on classes, where students are able to suit up, get their fingers dirty and do a little cooking, and demonstration classes, which feel like attending a taping of an episode of "Emeril" (only much, much less annoying). And with beer and wine for purchase, the students can sip a tasty cocktail while they learn.

While some chefs only make cameo appearances at the Market, a few chefs make regular visits, including John Raymond from Roots and Suzanne Monroe, who isn't a chef at all, but whose health and nutrition background lends a unique perspective to her classes.

Monroe encourages students to use whole, natural ingredients (including dark chocolate and butter), and not worry about counting calories.

"It's about finding a diet that works for you, what nourishes you and gives you the most energy," she says.

In addition to the classes open to the public, the Market also hosts a variety of events, including birthday parties, rehearsal dinners and corporate events. The classes have received an amazing response from the public, says Nickerson.

"We're really expecting it to take off this year," she says.

While spots in the hands-on classes are limited, the Market has held events for as many as 250 people, thanks to a new camera system that allows students to watch the demonstrations on TV screens set up around the Palm Garden.

"Cooking has really become popular," says Nickerson. "Our cooking classes aren't an expensive evening, and it's something different you can do. This is a fun night out."


OlderWiser | Jan. 23, 2008 at 8:19 a.m. (report)

I enjoyed attending a few of the 'complimentary' food classes at the Public Market last year. I have not seen any of those offered recently. The people from the Spice House, C. Adams Bakery, and the organic farms (unsure of the exact name of this vendor) were extremely knowledgeable and gave wonderful demonstrations of vanilla beans, cinnamon, and using root vegetables for healthy cooking. I drove in from a little distance to spend a few dollars at the Market after attending the hour long sessions. I did enroll in a class awhile back with John Ries from MATC and it was not a very good experience. The cooking equipment in the second floor kitchen did not work and John seemed to be disorganized and unprepared to teach the ninety minute class. Live and learn from experience, I guess.

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