Culinary Cloud

For more than 20 years, Austin’s The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts has educated students in all the must-knows of plant-based, garden-friendly cooking. And just as our culture has heartily embraced a digital-centric lifestyle, the academy has recently adapted its curriculum to meet the needs of the evolving tech community by offering its first online courses. An Introduction to the 5 Essential Healing Cuisines was quickly followed by a handful of other classes on subjects such as vegetarian and macrobiotic diets, raw food and ayurvedic cooking. More classes will be rolled out in the coming months.

The decision to offer in-depth culinary courses to the web-sphere was a natural progression, says Charles Barrow, the academy’s director of sales and services. “Online courses have become essential in this day and age, and the truth is, people from all over the world were interested in getting involved with our program. Anything we can do to positively affect the health of the community is an easy choice for us.”

Though it may be hard to imagine how a hands-on skill like cooking can be taught without constant supervision, Barrow says the academy’s digital courses feature a great sense of intimacy and one-on-one direction. “We’re not just handing you the materials and leaving you to fend for yourself,” he says. “We make sure each of our students is in contact with the instructor and that they meet their individual goals and expectations.”

The online courses are tailored to fit the needs of an array of students and are laid out in a supply of videos, assignments, quizzes, and virtual meetings and discussions. “All of our classes are distilled from our philosophy of spreading health and wellness throughout the community,” Barrow says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a home cook looking to brush up on some basic skills or a professional chef looking to learn more about this cooking style. The courses cover the whole spectrum.”

Laura S., a student at The Natural Epicurean, agrees. “I had so much fun at my first class that I can’t wait to come back for another,” she says. “I’ve been cooking for my husband and friends, and loving my time in the kitchen. I even moved my shoe storage out of the oven!” —Layne Lynch

Currently, the online courses at The Natural Epicurean are not transferable for credit at other academic institutions. For more information, visit naturalepicurean.com