Today my friend Dianne Wenz from Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen is here to tell you about the Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional Course, which she took upon my recommendation. Dianne is a Health Coach, a Vegan Lifestyle Coach, and now she’s a Certified Plant-Based Chef too!
I grew up eating boxes of beef flavored Rice-a-Roni, canned baby potatoes, and frozen broccoli doused in reconstituted powdered cheese sauce. When I first decided to go vegetarian at the age of 21, meal times were tough, but I bought a cookbook and cooked my way through it. Soon mealtimes were a breeze, and I was eating a wider variety of foods than I had been before I changed my diet. Since then I’ve become a bit of a self taught expert in the kitchen, and I write my own recipes for my blog Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen as well as teach both private and public cooking classes in my community in New Jersey.
Despite the many, many delicious meals I’ve cooked over the years, something always secretly felt not-quite right. To start with, my knife skills were atrocious, and there have been many near misses with my fingers. While I’ve always been good at veganizing meaty recipes, I wasn’t that great at coming up with my own meal ideas from scratch. I looked into various cooking schools in the area, but they were either not vegan or extremely pricey. Last year Fran mentioned the Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional cooking course to me and I was intrigued. She explained that Rouxbe is a professional level cooking class that takes place online and is self paced. It is also reasonably priced. I signed up for a trial week and after watching a few of their instructional videos, I was convinced. Sign me up!
I enrolled in Rouxbe’s February 2015 class, which is set to graduate in August, but I actually finished in May. THAT’s how much I enjoyed it. Although I’ve been cooking vegan food for years, I started learning new things right from the start. To begin with, I’ve been holding my chef’s knife wrong my whole life. I didn’t know the difference between a julienne cut and a bâtonnet, but I do now. I also now know the proper way to cook rice, the correct way to sauté without oil (which probably isn’t the way you’re doing it!), and why the “fresh” pasta you in the refrigerated case at the grocery store isn’t any better than dried. And I also know how to make pasta! The fresh pasta I made while studying with Rouxbe is the best I’ve ever eaten. Actually, most of the meals I made while taking the class were the best I’ve ever eaten.
I will admit that I was super scared when I began the course. The quizzes were a little intimidating at first, but since there are practice flash cards, I quickly realized that I actually did know the material. The cooking assignments were what really frightened me though. I was afraid I was going to be told that I was doing it all wrong and to start over, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the instructors were very enthusiastic about my dishes, and their evaluations encouraged me to keep at it in the kitchen. In fact, after realizing I was doing well with the first few assignments, I developed a new-found confidence in the kitchen and I couldn’t wait to get cooking each day.
Some of Rouxbe’s cooking assignments used recipes created by the instructors, which forced me to try new foods and flavors, and helped me learn the correct way to cook certain dishes. Others were recipes I had to create on my own, which really helped encourage me to get creative in the kitchen. I loved that there was a balance of both. I actually went to be each night dreaming up new recipes!
The course is six months long, but it’s self-paced, so you can run wild like I did, or you can take your time and savor it. There are regular live, webinar-style classes run by instructors Chad Sarno and Ken Rubin, where you can ask any burning questions you might have. Even though the class takes place online, you can easily connect with your fellow classmates through the Plant-Based Professional Facebook group. You’re never really on your own, as you can submit questions to the instructors, who answer very quickly.
The next Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional course begins June 13th. See the syllabus, FAQ, recipes, videos, and sign up here: http://tinyurl.com/plantbasedpro