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Co-op Class Enjoys “Curries From Around the World”

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A small group of 15 escaped the cold darkness of Alhambra Boulevard as they stepped into the Natural Foods Co-Op Learning Center and Cooking School Monday night. The class settled into four set tables for the “Curries From Around the World” class.

Dionisio Esperas instructed the class and taught four recipes: Indian lamb vindaloo; gaeng mussamun; Indonesian chicken and lemongrass curry; and crab ginataan. The place settings included a cooking class pamphlet, a recipe pamphlet, evaluation form and coupon for Natural Foods Co-op.

“It seems like there are always people who wanted to learn how to make curries,” Esperas said.

He is the co-owner of A Healthy Kitchen with his wife, Terese. He teaches cooking classes at the co-op at least once a week. He was assisted by Andrew Vutcher, Learning Center and Cooking School assistant. Nikki Jennings assisted the class as dish washer.

The audience members read along with their recipe pamphlets, writing notes, as Esperas cooked the dishes in front of the group. A large mirror was sandwiched by two flat-screen televisions directly above Esperas’ cooking station, all displaying the cooking process.

“People enjoy going out to Vietnamese or Thai restaurants, and people always think (curry) is an exotic dish and they don’t really know how to make it,” he said. “I like to show people that a lot of these dishes are not too difficult. Curries are something I grew up eating a lot of, and I like to share the knowledge of how to make a good curry.”

Audience members asked questions about the recipes, and Esperas explained ingredients he used.

“I have been to many of the other (classes), and he’s a very good and entertaining instructor,” Toni Haddad of Sacramento said. “He makes it more understandable with the different spices.”

Esperas passed around a few spices for the class to smell. Vutcher distributed small plates of the dishes as they were finished, along with wine and iced tea.

“I wanted to come because my wife’s a chef and I’m English and I can’t cook anything,” Peter Robinson of Sacramento said. “So I told her I’d come and learn how to do this.”

The Learning Center and Cooking School is located at 1914 Alhambra Blvd. and hosts various classes each week. “Curries From Around the World” cost $39 for the public and $30 for co-op members. People who volunteered to help clean and set up paid half the price.

The center hosts cooking, kids’, wellness and fitness, and gardening and green living classes.

Cooking class prices through December range from $35-$49 for the public.

“(The class) was really good,” Robinson said. “I was worried it was going to be over my head, but it really wasn’t. It was totally enjoyable.

“Eating the food was my favorite part,” he laughed.



1) Esperas working at the cooking station

2) Crab ginataan

3) Esperas

4) Indian lamb vindaloo

5) Gaeng mussamun beef curry

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