Students learned how to cook Thai food while also raising funds for a portrait to honor William Stortz during the special Quick and Easy Thai Cooking class taught by Nancy Knapp on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.
The students learned how to cook kaeng paneng moo (a curry dish with pork in it, for this class) and tom kha gai (a chicken soup), and also learned how they could add vegetables from their home gardens or local stores to the dishes. Cooks can substitute tofu or similar products for the meat to make vegetarian versions of the dishes. The instructor, longtime Sitka resident and health program manager Nancy Knapp, has worked in Thailand and Laos and brought that experience to the classes.
The class served as a fundraiser to purchase a portrait of William Stortz, painted by Sitka artist Steve Lawrie. William Stortz was one of the three people who died in the August 2015 landslide, and the portrait will hang in the new art gallery bearing his name in the city offices. William was working as the city building inspector when the landslide happened, and before that he spent many years working for the facilities department at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). There also was a donation can where people could donate, and Nancy Knapp donated her instructor fee to the cause.
The Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society, in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner.
In addition to this special class, the Sitka Kitch has one class left in its winter Cooking From Scratch class series taught by local chefs in February (on homemade empanadas), but that class is full and already has a waiting list. The Sitka Kitch also is offering a Basic Culinary Skills class series taught by Westmark Hotel executive chef Kathy Jones in March, and there is still room for students to take those classes. The Basic Culinary Skills series is designed to help people who want to find work in the restaurant or catering fields improve their kitchen skills (these classes also will be open to people who want to improve their home cooking skills).
A slideshow of scenes from the Thai cooking class is posted below: