Old School Meets New School: Western Reserve School of Cooking Teams with Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen for Downtown Classes

When Catherine and Carl St. John announced that plans to open a satellite of their Hudson-based Western Reserve School of Cooking along the MidTown corridor would have them joining forces with the Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen (CCLK), the collective possibilities seemed limitless.

Upon the 43-year-old school's recent unveiling of its inaugural Cleveland class schedule, it's clear that the shared space is sure to be a hub for fusing the established with the emerging.

Throughout the fall and winter offerings, leaders of the participation courses are evenly divided between seasoned culinary educators and fresh perspectives courtesy of the CCLK entrepreneurial roster. While Carl will act as manager of the school and head up operations at the downtown incubator, Catherine will remain at the reigns of the Hudson location while also leading several classes of her own in Cleveland.

Classes remain the star, but the Cleveland branch's ambitions also include exploring the potential for incorporating events and catering. Boasting enough breathing room to host upwards of 40 people, the school might draw from the talent pool of CCLK members for catering when those opportunities arise. That is shaping up to be often, considering the obvious bridge between the school and neighboring attractions as well as curriculum built around popular date-night themes.

"The driving force is being downtown and being part of the innovation happening in MidTown," says Carl of the blossoming start-up culture surrounding their locale. "With the kitchen across the hall, it was a natural fit."

Just as the community kitchen has become home to a growing collection of eclectic participants over the last year or so, the WRSOC at CCLK teaching line-up is equally wide-ranging, running the gamut from vegan experimentation to hearty meat-handling.

Notably on board is local charcuterie advocate Melissa Khoury, butcher-owner at Saucission. Her workshop (Dec. 13) touches on grinding and seasoning, but also stuffing, cooking and devouring, her Mediterranean-spiced sausages.

"It's a process some people may be afraid to try, but once they see how it's done, I'm willing to bet they'll continue to use it more times than not," Carl says assuredly.

Those more intrigued by, say, dairy-free cooking are advised to enroll in Jeanne Petrus-Rivera's session (Dec. 1), in which she'll translate the cashew-based fare of her Red Lotus Foods into a soy workshop that navigates the likes of tofu, tempeh and edamame. Patrick Kander of Choice Catering will host both pasta (Nov. 19) and stuffed pasta (Dec. 3) demonstrations.

And, of course, the holiday spirit is alive and well-represented in the school's timely debut. Two classes (Nov. 30, Dec. 6) led by John Thibo of Gingerbread Homes, with more than 20 years of "home-building" experience, will guide attendees from batter to candy-coated finish.

"He's going to take you through the whole process," explains Carl.

The remainder of the classes will be hosted by instructors outside of the CCLK, including Flour alum Jared Bergen, Great Lakes Brewing Co. pastry chef Becca Ritterspach and Abbe Turner of Lucky Penny Farm.

Carl notes this first run is meant to gauge interest before launching into a more formal schedule for the 2015 calendar year. Mentioning that he's already fielding phone calls from several nearby restaurants, the collaborations can only be expected to thrive.