There are plenty of places to eat at Stanley Marketplace, but soon there will also be a school where students can learn to prepare their own food. CREATE Cooking School, co-founded by chefs Erasmo Casiano and Diego Coconati, is slated to open at 2501 Dallas Street later this year.
Both Casiano and Coconati worked for years as professional chefs before looking for other ways to pursue their passion for culinary arts. Becauses of the physical demands of working as a chef, Casiano has had two back surgeries, which forced him to rethink his career. Meanwhile, the long hours inherent in the industry left Coconati looking for a way to spend more time with his wife and young children. The two met as chef instructors before teaming up to form their own school.
“I just kind of had to sit down and collect my thoughts and really rethink the path of my life, and whether I wanted to continue working in restaurants,” says Casiano. “I think that’s when cooking school kind of came to fruition.”
Casiano explains that the goal of CREATE is to give everyone the confidence and skills to prepare the seemingly unapproachable dishes that they enjoy at restaurants, as well as provide a great work environment for chefs looking to make a change in their careers.
The courses offered at CREATE have been two years in the making. Casiano and Coconati spent time teaching at other cooking schools and conducting market research before designing their course format. Feedback from students at other cooking schools underscored the importance of individual attention in classes, which is why CREATE’s courses will be taught in a smaller, more personal format.
“We want it to feel like a large dinner party,” says Casiano. “That’s why we’re limiting our guests to twelve people per course. That gives you enough time with the chef and gives you enough time to work with your own ingredients. You’re going to have your own cook area, your own prep area, and all the chef is going to be doing there is really facilitating, helping you, guiding you, in making the perfect dish.”
Casiano has found the same passion guiding others in their culinary adventures that he felt in preparing the perfect dish as a chef.
“One of my greatest feelings is that when I make someone a dish and they take that first bite, you kind of see that enjoyment really start to fill their face,” notes Casiano. “I get that same fulfillment seeing someone make something I helped them make, but seeing their sense of fulfillment in making that same dish.”
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Casiano and Coconati will offer more than seventy unique courses at CREATE, instructing guests on classics like homemade pastas and also providing trendier topics like a Burgers and Brews course with local beer pairings.
Guests can look forward to courses led by specialists, such as butchery classes taught by local butchers and pastry sessions led by a professional pastry chef. "If we’re going to teach you something, we want you to learn it from someone who's very, very capable, if not the best," says Casiano.
CREATE Cooking School aims to add to the community and family focus of Stanley Marketplace by creating a space where everyone is welcome. Weeklong kids' camps are designed to help kids learn basic kitchen skills and teach them to pay attention to what they’re putting in their bodies. “We’re teaching them these life skills over the course of a