By Bella Butler COMMUNITY AND ENVIRONMENT EDITOR
BIG SKY—As the world battles pandemic and normalcy crumbles, communities are mining through the rubble for nuggets of human culture to offer a glimmer of light in the darkness. One such relief is in the kitchen.
The treasured American novelist Truman Capote famously articulated the therapeutic value of cooking in his first book “Summer Crossing.” “Oh, I adore to cook,” he wrote. “It makes me feel so mindless in a worthwhile way.” Perhaps we all should have such a chance right now to feel so mindless, and maybe learn something new with others while we’re at it.
The Big Sky Virtual Kitchen, a program presented by the Big Sky Community Organization as part of the Big Sky Behavioral Health Coalition, will bring free cooking classes to homes throughout the community via Facebook Live to offer an opportunity for community members to engage with one another through a fun activity, while also bringing attention to chefs and their businesses during the challenging period.
“Cooking is a great way to connect with people, even if it’s just at home,” said Richard Sandza, Camp Big Sky manager and one of the coordinators for the virtual kitchen. “There are a lot of benefits of just having a place where people can just come together.”
Every week, local baker Ashley Dodd will host “The Great Big Sky Baking Show” on Monday at 4:30 p.m., followed by a cooking class taught by a rotating local chef on Tuesday’s at 5 p.m. Alex Omania, owner of the Lotus Pad, will teach the first class on April 14, following Dodd’s first baking class on April 13.
When Sandza started working out the details of the program, he said it was a no-brainer to include The Hungry Moose Market and Deli. He brought on the grocery store’s marketing director, Andrew Robin, to organize prepared ingredient bags to make it even easier to successfully participate in the virtual classes. Participants can order ingredient bags by calling The Hungry Moose a few days prior to the class and pick them up outside of the store’s Town Center location.
Robin and Sandza said that while everyone will be cooking in independent locations, the virtual classes, which offer opportunities to comment and interact with other participants, are good opportunities to connect with others during this time of physical separation.
“There is a nice reward, you get to eat a fun meal [and] everyone can share their meals together,” Robin said.
In her upcoming class, Omania will teach students how to make red curry and fresh shrimp spring rolls. The chef and restaurant owner offered to help The Hungry Moose obtain unique specialty ingredients, like lemongrass, so that the culinary artists-in-training at home have access to all of the necessary ingredients they need to make a satisfactory Thai meal. Dodd will kick off her baking class installment with a banana espresso chocolate chip muffin recipe.
The BSCO, a partner in the Big Sky Behavioral Health Coalition, recently began offering a number of other virtual programming options to meet needs from after school activities to virtual fly-tying lessons.
“The Big Sky Community Organization is committed to keeping our community connected during this difficult time,” said Ciara Wolfe, BSCO CEO. “By reaching out to all of our wonderful program partners and working together we have been able to put together a community calendar of virtual programming that offers something for everyone.”
For more information on additional BSCO programming, visit bscomt.org.