Community Ed offers virtual cooking classes for summer

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

When the COVID-19 lockdown began last Spring, many adult community educators scrambled to come up with innovative ways to continue offering classes, turning to live online classes as a way to continue educating. Tess Georgakopoulos was one of those educators whose on-site cooking classes were canceled. “Feeling the need to support and reach out to the community in some way to perhaps offer a little ‘fun’ in the midst of all that was going on, I approached our local school district and asked how they would feel about trying virtual-live cooking classes. Having known me for some time, I am very thankful to say that they were very excited to agree to give it a try,” she says. 

Georgakopoulos held her first virtual class at her local district, offering “Instant Pot® 101--Live Class” with the Director of Community Ed and the Adult Programs Coordinator in attendance along with the class. Because of that class’s success, inquiries started rolling in and by the end of the month, she decided to contact additional school districts. Currently, 33 Minnesota school districts are involved in Georgakopoulos’s online classes through their Community Education departments, including Montevideo. “Bringing people together and creating a different sense of community, virtually, has been nothing short of a breathtaking fulfilling adventure,” says Georgakopoulos.

The classes being offered through Montevideo’s Community Ed department by Georgakopoulos are demonstration-style or cook-along classes. “People so enjoy cooking along and learning as they go in their own kitchens,” says Georgakopoulos. “They join in either on their own or make it a family fun event and cook together.” Classes include Instant Pot® cook-along classes, and districts select which classes they would like to offer. They are held virtually through Zoom. Classes are live and participants can enter their questions through the chat function, or use the unmute feature to ask verbally. Before the class begins, students are provided a handout that includes the ingredient list and station prep. “We all start off exactly the same so that there is no need for worrying about falling behind in the process,” said Georgakopoulos.

Montevideo Community Education Program Assistant Marie Reszel is a part of the Adult Community Educators (ACE) group that includes members from around the state that share ideas on programming. “Statewide, Community Education Departments are seeing low enrollment numbers in Adult Enrichment classes, many think as a result of parents being so busy bringing their kids to so many activities. It is still an important reminder for parents to take some time for themselves and learn something new while having fun,” Reszel says. “If anyone local has any ideas for classes they want to see offered or better yet offer themselves, we would love to partner with you!”

Some of the classes being offered through Montevideo Community Ed with Tess Georgakopoulos include; Sizzling Summer Skewers and Dips, BBQ The Whole Year Through, Homemade Falafel and Mediterranean Wraps with Homemade Pita Bread, and more. To find out more information, check out the Community Ed Brochure for Summer 2021 on the school’s website.