A Recipe for Intuitive Cooking

Cooking, like learning to drive a stick shift, is ultimately about trusting your gut

At Mirepoix (pronounced MEERpwah), Holiday Market’s cooking school in Royal Oak, professional instructors ensure that home cooks are never nervous in a clutch. Their expansive, state-of-the-art kitchen instills pupils with culinary confidence.

Tom Violante Jr. and his sister, Gina Mangold, own and operate Mirepoix. Since the cooking school opened in February 2008, it’s played host to corporate team-building events, bridal showers, and private dinners for 25 to 100 guests. Mirepoix also offers scheduled classes for adults and children.

“One of our most popular events is Thursday Nights Uncorked, when this becomes a wine bar,” Violante says, gesturing to the half-dozen oversized and 20 high-top tables with sleek aluminum chairs, Woodmode cabinets, and Viking appliances supplied by Distinctive Appliance. “There’s incredible food, and you can purchase wine by the flight and have a great night out.”

Holiday Market’s mission is to be a resource for food and information. So it was only natural that expansion plans would include a cooking school dedicated to fostering creativity. At Mirepoix, it’s all about the intuition of cooking or, as Violante says, “You learn to go from the mechanical to the sheer enjoyable.”

Indeed, after classes with such titles as Knife Skills, Sauté and Pan Sauces, and Roasting, students possess the confidence to leave the cookbook on the shelf and throw ingredients in the pan. A teaspoon of salt becomes a “splash.” Two tablespoons of butter become a “dollop.” Quarter-inch onion bits become “I’ll chop this onion until I feel like throwing it in the pan.”

Mirepoix imparts more than recipes and techniques; it teaches participants how to find their inner cook. They learn which spices turn a lamb shank from Greek to Peruvian, how to select the appropriate knife, and how to create quick appetizers under fire, over the fire.

Students may falter a time or two along the way, but eventually the ability to improvise takes control, and they discover the freedom to create a recipe with whatever is in the fridge or on the shelf.

“The most rewarding thing I hear is when someone tells me, ‘I went home after taking this class and did it myself,’” Violante says. “That’s true payback.”

Holiday Market, 1203 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-541-1414 – Register online at: mirepoixcookingschool.com