Local D'Lish dives into cooking classes

Categories: Interview

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Photo by Lisa Nguyen
Local D'Lish incorporates its fresh produce into cooking classes--and offers a special deal to Hot Dish readers
​D'Lish celebrated its three-year anniversary in the North Loop neighborhood this month. The store schedule is already packed with Saturday winter farmers markets, sample days from local food companies, and CSA pickups. You can even drop off and pick up your dry cleaning through Skylark Dry Cleaning.

We sat down with Ann Yin during a rare lull in her day to talk about the addition of cooking classes to D'Lish's event schedule.

What has grown or changed with D'Lish in the last three years?
For one thing, the store inventory has really been rounded off. We started off with a very small inventory and were more of a boutique shop. Over the years we've continually added to our products and brought on more produce to really become a neighborhood grocery store. Eventually we plan to incorporate products that aren't necessarily local, but fit in with our mission of sustainable and organic food, that will help us grow into a full grocery store.

After the new year we will also be opening a small deli section with fresh salads and sandwiches, focusing on local meat and cheeses and dressings made from ingredients that can be found in the store.

What made you decide to offer cooking classes?
We've always had cooking classes here and there, but this is the first time I really took ownership of the classes. I designed the classes and decided what I wanted to have and reached out to instructors to create a cooking series that would be really fun and interesting. My goal is to get people to reconnect with their food. There's nothing too fancy going on, just people digging in with fresh, local, and real food.

The classes are on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and each day has a theme. Wednesdays are about technique, so you'll learn things like how to make simple sauces and stocks. Fridays are for entertaining and ideas for parties. Last Friday we had a class on tailgating classics. And Sundays are family days and really kid friendly. I cook with my daughter a lot, so she's had a lot of input on the family classes. This past Sunday people had a great time coming up with creative box lunches.

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Photo by Lisa Nguyen
The store shelves are stocked with quite the selection of local products.

What is the format of the classes?
The classes are a combination of demonstrations and digging in. The instructors all have their own style, so each class is really unique and fun, but they all have the element of hands-on participation. For instance, we have a class coming up called Farmers Market Feast where the participants will just be pulling food off our produce cart, freshly stocked that day, and we'll cook with whatever ingredients they decide on.

Can you talk about the decision to launch the cooking classes with a LivingSocial deal?
We had done a coupon through LivingSocial previously and have had good experiences working with them. I love what they are doing for businesses, and so far the coupon holders have really enjoyed the cooking classes, and we have gotten great feedback from all the new customers that have come in as a result of the deal.

This first round of classes goes through February, so in January we'll be announcing our spring/summer session, probably with another LivingSocial coupon. Two of our most popular classes have been Basics of Quick Weeknight Meals and Cooking for the Busy Professionals. They are both almost sold out, so we'll be adding more dates of those classes.

Special deal for Hot Dish readers:

Yin has graciously offered the sold-out LivingSocial special to any of our interested readers, $35 for a $70 cooking class. Call the store for details. For more information check out the website: localdlish.com


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