would you like to take a gluten-free cooking class with me?

crispy pork belly

Teaching is in my bones.

Since I knew how to read at the age of two, my kindergarten teacher didn’t quite know what to do with me. After a couple of weeks, she decided. Every day, she propped me up on a stool for story-reading time and had me read to all the other five-year-olds, while she sneaked out of the classroom for a cup of coffee (and a cigarette, I suspect). My father says that he came into the class one time — banjo in hand, ready to play “Puff the Magic Dragon” to the children sitting on the worn rug — and saw me chiding a boy for not paying attention. “Jimmy, you’re not looking at the picture!” I said. (Apparently. I don’t remember that particular day. But I do remember that Jimmy often didn’t pay attention.) He laughs whenever he tells this story. “The word ‘teacher’ was stamped on your forehead at birth.”

For awhile, I resisted that. After all, both my parents are teachers. I remember watching my father grade papers at the kitchen table. My mother was a substitute teacher at my high school in southern California, sometimes in my classes. (Later, she went on to have her own classroom, and she still does today.) I swore — there was no way I was going to be a teacher.

I relented, eventually. All signs pointed toward it. After graduating college and working at a bookstore for a year, I realized I only had two choices. Go for a PhD or enter a graduate program in teaching. Teaching called to me, by that time. I didn’t want all my writing to be on one, academic subject. I wanted to write the world. Teenagers always appealed to me, much to the shock of other people. And besides, I told myself, I could write during the summers.

Some of the best moments of my life have taken place in classrooms. Raucous laughter, ridiculous stories, grammar lessons, and unexpected hushes when talking about death — it all happened within four walls. Most of the time, I was sitting up on a desk, my legs dangling, the students sitting in a circle, leaning forward. Of all the things of which I am most proud, it is the way those students listened to each other and respected each other’s stories. Yes, there were profound discussions of literature and tips on creative writing and the endless tape loop of me explaining why “Me and him went to the movies last night” is so terribly, terribly wrong. But for the most part, on the best days of teaching — whether on Vashon Island, New York City, or here in Seattle — I felt like a human being, listening, and those twenty to thirty other beings in the room were part of that too. In the best moments, I didn’t feel like “the teacher.” I just felt awake and alive.

And some of those students — quite a few — became friends over the years. One will be taking the photographs for our wedding. Another became like a little brother to me, and he will be filming parts of the day. A dozen more of them will be laughing at our wedding, dancing with me and the Chef, the great divide finally knocked down. Now, they are simply people dear to my life.

As most of you know, I am no longer teaching in a high school. There are plenty of stories I could tell about last year, and how I knew it was time to go. Or about the joys of this year, suddenly free to write as much as I need. (Summers never did give me all the time to write I craved.) But this isn’t the entry for that.

Instead, I am happy to say, I have found a way to teach again.

Starting next week, I will be team-teaching a cooking class at Puget Sound Consumers’ Co-Op (known around here as PCC), along with Sonya Joseph, on Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Menus. Sonya has been teaching gluten-free cooking classes for years in this area, and she has built a devoted following. In fact, I took one of her classes, early in my gluten-free journey. She recently moved to Portland, however, to pursue her dream of movie making, and teaching in Seattle has grown too difficult, logistically. PCC — one of my favorite places in the world, and a haven for those of us who have to live gluten-free — asked me if I would like to teach with her this spring, and then take over the classes by myself in the fall.

As the Chef likes to say, “Yes, please!”

I would love if readers from Seattle (and the area) came out to see us. The classes are reasonable and informative. Not only will we be making gluten-free macaroni and cheese, pan-seared halibut with black rice flour, chocolate mousse, and my fig cookies, but we will also be talking about the psychological aspects of living gluten-free, and a guide to the best gluten-free products.

Here is a list of the classes offered over this next month. Sign up quickly, if you would like to be there. One of the classes is already sold out!

May 23rd, 6:30 to 9 pm — Issaquah store
May 24th, 6:30 to 9 pm — West Seattle store (sold out!)
June 12th, 6:30 to 9 pm — Redmond store
June 13th, 6:30 to 9 pm — Greenlake store

I cannot wait to teach again. It has always been in my bones, and it always will be. I’m already starting to grow excited at the thought of meeting many of you, and feeding you good food. I can promise you laughter and stories. And I won’t even correct your grammar.

. . .

p.s. The photograph is a bit of a tease. We won’t be teaching you how to make crispy pork belly with curried chickpeas, and pan-seared asparagus and zucchini. Not yet. Nope, this dish was the Chef’s, on Sunday, when my parents did us the honor of coming to the restaurant on Mother’s Day. When the plate arrived, I made my father wait while I took the photo. Cruel, aren’t I?

I just had to share.

41 comments on “would you like to take a gluten-free cooking class with me?

  1. Cayden

    I would love to see you expand this class to other parts of the US. I know so many who would just love for you to come to Atlanta, as an example-wink- to teach us as well. Your words, photos, recipes and love of life are always inspiring, and with all of these things combined would make for a truly amazing experience. Hope you have a great time with this class and can’t wait to read all about it

  2. Anne

    Oh – it’s a bit too far for me, but I’d love it if I was just a tad closer. 🙂 (Sweden – Seattle, well, no.)

  3. Morag

    I was just wondering (as you have such an international audience) if you might create payperview Shauna-Vision of your lessons one day!

  4. Kathy

    I wish I was a little bit closer! I have several good friends who have celiac, and anything I can learn so I can cook for them in a way that is both tasty and harmless is welcome. Hmmm…Portland’s not *that* far of a drive, come to think of it…

  5. I'm Not Carrie Bradshaw

    Shauna, it was so nice to meet you at the restaurant on Sunday night. My family really enjoyed the meal the Chef prepared and we all stayed visiting for hours. I’m going to try and sign up for your class at the Greenlake store and hope we can meet up sometime in Portland for coffee!

  6. Nina

    how I wish there was a PCC–and PCC classes–in Tokyo. I would so love to take your class!

  7. Deborah Dowd

    Shauna, what a great way to help people cook gluten free (and who better than you to do it!) Only wish I were close enought to take advantage!

  8. Fiona

    I can come, I can come! I live in Redmond. I’m so excited. I’m heading to PCC this morning to sign up.


  9. sweetpea

    I see a “Food Networ” series in your future. You and the the chef should take your talents on the road. There are many really good cooking schools around the US that have guest chefs teaching classes all the time. One of them is right here in St. Paul, MN, Cooks of Crocus Hill. Not only do they have great classes, including some gluten free classes, they also have a monthly book club. Just yesterday I put in a call to the class coordinator to see if we could add your book to the fall list of books the club will review. Your classes look very fun and educational! As for my brother, actually he is a “CWP”, perhaps not famous enough for you to know but he operates just like your Mr CFP. Years ago his wife managed the entire “Home” division for a very CFP, we will call him Ralph. One day Ralph’s wife asked my sister in law to get some “really nice table linen” for a dinner party they were hosting. The morning after Ralph’s party, the linen showed up in a paper bag in my sister in laws office, wine stained and all, with a note asking her to return the goods… Glad I am not part of the rich and famous! Enjoy the cooking classes!

  10. Pink

    It’s so awesome that your teaching career is expanding to include what you love most! Congratulations.

  11. Slacker Mom (aka Mrs. GF)

    I wish you were teaching here!!

    Take the teaching on the road with your book tour..how fun would that be?

    OK, seriuosly, I think you will have a blast. Congrats!

  12. Melissa

    Your class schedule has been hanging on my fridge for over a month! I’m trying to figure out how to make it to one of them since I’m in central WA…..you mentioned Fall classes too; will any of them be on the weekend?

    When I saw your name in the PCC Cooks mag, I ran to show my husband because “I know her…well, I know OF her at least”.

    There is no doubt in my mind that you’re an incredible teacher!

  13. Jason Morrison

    I would totally come, but I am a bit far from Seattle… maybe this August when I am visiting, if you’re still teaching classes?

  14. Kristin

    Oh, you cruel, cruel woman !!!

    Great photo by the way. Just wanted to say Aloha … I’m off to Hawaii tomorrow !! I’ll miss catching up on your blog almost every day, but I know I’ll have multiple posts to look forward to when I return. Best to you and The Chef !

  15. Nat

    Add Chicago to the list of places your class would be welcomed with open arms!
    Good luck — and enjoy it!

  16. CookiesandCream

    I don’t live gluten-free, but your food just looks and sounds soooo GOOD that i would love to see you go through the steps of making it. But sadly I don’t live in Seattle.

  17. Ms. George

    I’d love to take your class but I am on the other side of the country!
    I found your blog searching for gluten free ideas for my dad and stayed for your wonderful writing.
    I’d love the curried chick pea recipe though…

  18. Lacey

    I’m moving to Seattle next Thursday! We have an apartment in the Magnolia area…But I start Bar Review May 29th… sad. Maybe after July? I’m a terrible cook so I could use the help!

  19. Jennifer

    How strange. Both of my parents were teachers and I could read by the time I was two, as well. I’ve never met anyone else who said the same thing. Great blog!

  20. Gemma

    I would love to come to a class but don’t think I can justify flying from Edinburgh to Seattle!

  21. Allergic Girl

    ya know…might you consider doing cooking demos during your book tour? that might be alot of fun and another way to bring in an audience that might not otherwise know about you!

  22. lucette

    I became a teacher against my (original) will, too. My parents weren’t teachers, but they were determined that I should be, and eventually I saw their point.
    Wish I could take one of these classes.

  23. La Tea Dah

    How I wish you could extend those lessons to the other side of the mountains. . .

    Sounds great!

  24. Gluten - Free Granny

    I wish that I could come- but living on the east coast does not make this possible! Good luck with the classes and your students as well! Please write about this in the blog!

  25. terry

    oh, dang…. if only san francisco were a little closer to seattle…

    how fun. i’d love to take your class, but i kinda feel like i already am, reading your writing.

  26. vegetablej

    Food Network or Other Network, wake up! With this much enthusiasm “right off the bat”, worldwide, I’d think they would offer you a cooking show asap. And who better than a teacher?

    Then even me, in Japan, anne in sweden, and others scattered around the US and other countries could cook it up large with “Gluten-free Girl”.

    You go, Shauna.

  27. Marie Zoleen-

    I’d love to take a cooking class with you, even though I’m not gluten free, but you seem so down to earth and I’d probably have a blast. I’ve always wanted to go to a cooking class. But distance is always the problem when I want to go places 8(

  28. Vibrance

    I saw you were teaching in the Class Directory — I’m already signed up! See you on the 13th of June!

  29. madre-terra

    How glorious that this opportunity has come your way.
    My daughter, Xan, the chef wanna-be will have to come to Seattle and take class.
    It just doesn’t get that much better than the PCC does it? We set up at the Fremont Fair and I love to walk down to the PCC and buy all our weekend goodies.

  30. Leslie

    I would like to add Denver to your list of places to visit on your world teaching tour!

  31. Jean Layton-GF Momma

    You should have a blast! I’ve been teaching all my cooking classes at our local Co-op gluten free since December without emphasizing the gluten free.
    Last week I taught the first one billed as a gluten free class. We baked Apple currant walnut muffins, parmesan cheese twists and buckwheat pancakes.
    I had the largest turn out yet!
    The booker at the coop says he could fill any gluten free class.
    YIPEE! We are finally out there enough to really influence the food mavens of the world.
    I love the idea of cooking demos as you do the book tour. Let me know if Bellingham (Village Books) is a stop. I bet Kevin at the coop would be happy to give you a venue.
    Wish I could make it to Seattle in time for your classes. Let me know when you have a weekend class.

  32. Shauna

    Thank you, thank you everyone. These comments moved me deeply.

    I wish that I could come to every town to teach. And if someone wanted to pay the airfare to Sweden or Tokyo? I’d be there in a minute (well, as long as it takes the plane to fly there).

    We’ll see what the book tour entails. I’ll push for as many places as they will allow me, because I’m so eager to meet you all.

    And I might just bring the Chef with me! If you want to take a truly great cooking class, well look no further than that man. Together, we’d have so much fun that the entire room would be laughing.

    I’ll keep everyone posted.

  33. Aya

    Love your blog… I’m a newly diagnosed celiac so I’d love to take classes, but alas, I can’t eat dairy and eggs! (Used to make macaroni gratin and get totally sick. Go figure…) So things like mac & cheese and chocolate mousse would be off my menu… I feel like I have triple strikes against me sometimes. Too bad 🙁 Maybe when I’m better I’ll teach vegan gluten-free classes!

  34. Rochelle Saedi

    Hi! Is this how I sign up for a class? Is there a cost involved? Thanks for the clarification. If it isn’t too expensive I would really love to join the Redmond class.

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