JR Johnson brought Mr. Greenjeans, a vegetable market in Edgewater, to life after a couple of beers in the Providence Tavern. "I noticed people want to stay around the neighborhood," he says. "And I looked across the street and thought it would be a great place for a vegetable stand."
After running the stand last summer and fall with Deb Moodey, the former owner of the now-shut Basil's on Broadway, he had another idea: "People used to ask us how to cook what we sold them. They told us we should start a cooking class."
And when a friend told the pair that he'd be happy to host their classes in his kitchen, they decided to get serious. And so five months ago, Green Apron Interactive Culinary Experience was born.
In that private home in northwest Denver, Moodey and Johnson bring together groups of about ten people for what is, first and foremost, a party. Guests are put to work chopping and prepping before sitting down for a candlelit dinner of their creations. "We have everyone from professional chefs to people who can't boil a pan of water," says Johnson. "Over the course of three hours, people become best friends."
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Although it's not an intensive cooking class, students do get schooled on Moodey's recipes, which include appetizers, entrees withe the same protein in two preparations, and an exotic dessert. They've done cioppino, handmade pastas and, most recently, three different twists on pheasant (which prompted Moodey to say that if she saw another pheasant in the next two years, it would be too soon). Each course comes with a wine pairing, which is handled by Brian and Kim Slanovich, the sommeliers who own Toast! Wine and Spirits in the Sloan's Lake neighborhood. And that couple is also on hand for the dinner, answering questions from oenophiles.
But ultimately, Green Apron is about the moment when everyone sits down to dinner together. "It's good team-building for corporate events," says Johnson. "And it's a good way for people in the neighborhood to meet each other."
Classes are $65 each and run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; the March 8 and April 1 events still have space available. For more information or to make a reservation, e-mail Johnson at JR549@comcast.net.