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This spring, UT’s Culinary Institute will offer a variety of hands-on cooking classes. The classes focus on techniques and skills that are easily duplicated at home.

All classes have a fee of $50 unless stated otherwise and are held at the UT Visitors Center, 2712 Neyland Drive. Checks and credit cards are accepted. Registration is available online or by contacting Terri Geiser at Registration closes one week prior to each class. Students must wear closed-toe shoes, long pants, and a cap or hat to class.

The spring courses include:

Chinese-Indian Fusion, 6–8:30 p.m. Thursday, January 25. Indian-Chinese fusion started in the late 19th century. The flavors of Indian spices blended with Chinese seasoning tantalize the taste buds. In this class, students will learn how to prepare the famous chilly chicken, gobi (veg) Manchurian, and manchow soup, paired with veg hakka noodles and a mango cheesecake for dessert.

All Aboard for Shellfish Lovers, 6–8:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 30. In this hands-on class, students will learn how to cook shrimp in a matter of minutes, how to prepare and sear scallops, and how to select and use crab. Recipes will include shrimp and tomato bisque with a basil drizzle, Coquilles St.-Jacques (seared sea scallops topped with savory mushrooms, Gruyère cheese, and a bread crumb mixture), and Moroccan-spiced crab cakes with cilantro orange dressing.

Exploring Foods and Wines: A Pairing Adventure, 6–8:30 p.m. Thursday, February 15. Join Jason Drotar, head sommelier at a prominent award-winning restaurant in East Tennessee, on a food and wine adventure. He will discuss flavor profiles that show how to match food and wine like a professional chef or sommelier. The menu will include an appetizer, a small plate, a main dish, and a dessert with cheeses, each paired with an appropriate wine.

Lost Restaurants of Knoxville, 6–8:30 p.m. Thursday, February 22. Cost: $55. Paula Johnson, local historian and author of Lost Restaurants of Knoxville, will share some nostalgic culinary moments including stories from favorite restaurants in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Terri Geiser will walk students through the process of bringing those popular dishes back to life. Students will make the Orangery’s oyster-artichoke ramekins topped with cream, sherry, and parmesan cheese; the Sunsphere Restaurant’s Cornish game hen, Black Forest style with wild rice and spices, and Grady’s chocolate bar cake. Regas’s strawberry shortcake will also be available for sampling. Note: shrimp will be available upon request for oyster substitution. Every participant will receive a copy of Johnson’s book.

Simply Southern, 6–8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 6. Class participants will learn how to prepare a good ole Southern meal in this hands-on class. The chef will introduce students to a variety of uniquely Southern cooking techniques—from braising and frying to creating creamy grits and cooking shrimp to perfection. Students will learn how to develop layers of flavor for three traditional favorites: butter bean and ham hock soup, Georgia white shrimp and grits, and fried apple hand pies.

Stocks and Sauces, 6–8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29. Students will learn to make rich, flavorful stocks and turn them into sauces for meats and vegetables. The prepared stocks will be used for students to make a velouté sauce to be served over a stuffed chicken breast and an Espagnole sauce, typically made from brown stock, mirepoix, and tomatoes, and thickened with roux used to make beef stroganoff. A vegetable stock will be used to create a delicious tomato sauce for serving over roasted vegetables. Students will also learn chef-worthy knife skills for prepping vegetables.

Favorites from Blackberry Farm, 6–8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19. In this course, students will learn how to find delicious greens from the backyard. The chef will show students his favorite finds to make a foraged and found spring salad with roasted grapes dressed with a vinaigrette. Students will learn how to make their own peameal bacon, a simple process that starts with a pork loin paired with a spring pea and mint puree. Dessert will include buttermilk slab pie.

About the instructors:

Joseph Blauvelt graduated with a dual degree in culinary and pastry arts from Sullivan University. He has been in the food industry for 31 years and is currently an instructor in UT’s Culinary Institute.

Jason Drotar, head sommelier at an award-winning restaurant in East Tennessee, found his way into cooking while in a master’s degree program at Florida State University. After completing his second bachelor’s degree in restaurant management, he was selected for an internship at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, where he extended his beverage and restaurant knowledge. He oversees the training of the sommelier team and wait staff.

Terri Geiser is a culinary aficionado, caterer, and cooking instructor who appears regularly on WBIR. She has been teaching cooking classes for over 20 years for the Glass Bazaar and previously for Williams-Sonoma. She is currently the assistant director of the Culinary Institute community cooking courses at UT.

Florence Graves is a graduate of the UT Culinary Institute’s professional culinary program. Originally from Mumbai, India, she later moved to Dubai, where she owned a restaurant focusing on multicultural cuisine. After moving to Knoxville, Graves spent five months as sous-chef for Bonefish Grill. She also has catering experience and holds a passion for cultural traditions.

Donna Parang is a graduate of UT’s Culinary Institute and the former owner of Bella Luna restaurant on Market Square. Her specialties include Italian, Persian, and healthful farm-to-table cuisines.

Jeff Ross is Blackberry Farm’s field school manager. He has an education in American history and a profound passion for food. He showcases his talents in cooking the food of Appalachia.


Terri Geiser (865-524-4963,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,