Cooking Confidently

DATE: Friday, September 21, 2018

"My goal is to give the beginner home cook the confidence to take on any recipe in the kitchen"

Tracy Carter at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute

Professional chef Tracy Carter, formerly of the Food Network, will be leading a new series of classes at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute this fall geared toward home cooks.

"Cooking Confidently," the monthly series of stand-alone, noncredit classes, begins Thursday, Sept. 27, with "Peak of Perfection: Celebrating the Season," during which Chef Carter will teach participants to prepare a healthy, three-course vegetarian meal.     

The series continues with "Visit to Asia" on Oct. 18, "Small Plates" on Nov. 8, and "Flavors of Argentina" on Dec. 6.  

All the classes meet at the new HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute at 164 Race St., in downtown Holyoke on Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. Each class is $79 and space is limited.    

"Our first cooking series last spring in the new facility was so popular and successful we wanted to do it again," said Ken White, HCC dean of Community Service. "These classes are meant for anyone who wants to enjoy a night out, improve their culinary skills, enjoy a gourmet meal, and take home tasty leftovers. We're very fortunate to have secured an instructor with the experience and talent of Chef Carter."  

Carter is a graduate of the International Culinary Schools at the Art Institute in Los Angeles. She grew up in Springfield and moved back to the area in March after living for six years in New York City, where she worked as a freelance food stylist and culinary producer at the Food Network on shows such as "Chopped," preparing the baskets of ingredients for the cooks involved in the on-air competitions, and working alongside famous chefs like Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell.  

"My goal through teaching these classes is to give the beginner home cook the confidence to take on any recipe in the kitchen," Carter said from her own home in Chicopee. "I believe that mastering a few basic skills can provide anyone with confidence to expand their culinary repertoire. I try to focus on fresh and seasonal food and concepts that cooks can put their own spin on in the future."  

Here are the full menus for the series:   

Sept. 27: "Peak of Perfection: Celebrating the Season" – Roasted cauliflower topped with pistachio gremolata, drizzled with yogurt tahini sauce and finished with jewels of pomegranate seeds; wild mushroom stuffed eggplant; pears poached in wine and warm spices served with creamy, whipped mascarpone.  

Oct. 18: "Visit to Asia: A Light & Refreshing Journey" – Vegetable tempura with garlic-vinegar dipping sauce; summer rolls with shrimp, shaved vegetables and rice noodles with spicy-tangy chili peanut sauce; gluten- and dairy-free coconut panna cotta.  

Nov. 8: "Small Plates: Tapas Night" – Slightly charred and blistered shishito peppers; papas fritas with garlic aioli; albondigas (Spanish meatballs in garlic tomato sauce); crispy churros dusted with cinnamon sugar.  

Dec. 6: "Flavors of Argentina: Grilled Churrasco & Crispy Smashed Potatoes" –  Grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce and roasted, crispy, smashed potatoes; warm rice pudding.  

For more information or to register for classes, please go to: or call 413.552.2500.

PHOTO by CHRIS YURKO: Chef Tracy Carter will be leading a new series of gourment cooking classes for home cooks this fall at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute.