Food Lab Boulder: A Hip Neighborhood Hub
Photos by Stephen Smith/courtesy Food Lab
After the birth of her first child, Casey Easton realized that running a teaching, catering and private chef business for Boulder County’s foodies was no longer a sustainable model for work-life balance. So the Washington state native and graduate of the School of Natural Cookery decided to take a year off and test-drive dozens of cooking schools around the country. The fruit of that journey is called Food Lab, a demonstration kitchen/event space and cooking school on Boulder’s Pearl Street.
“People are really looking for kitchen tips and tricks to apply right away in their cooking, as opposed to course work from a curriculum,” says Easton, who opened Food Lab in December 2015. “I like to think of Food Lab more along the lines of an interactive cooking magazine: Every month is something new and seasonal.” Her class feels more like a community learning and gathering space than a professional culinary program. The emphasis is on enjoying the process and on understanding how to use specific ingredients rather than following recipes.
Easton at work
Snuggled up next to Cured and Boxcar Coffee Roasters, the 2,700-square-foot space feels like a brick-and-mortar Pinterest board; you’ll want to snag a few design ideas along with the tidbits you pick up from your Spanish tapas class. With high ceilings and a white, chrome and light wood composition, it’s a lovely spot to linger over a glass of rosé paired with your Gambas al Ajillo and to forget the troubles of your workday.
Students working side by side on a seasonal feast
There are approximately 20 classes to choose from, with themes like Date Night in Paris, Indian Food Made Healthy, Cubano Cookery, Farmer’s Market Bounty and Upslope Beer Dinner. Most cost $75 for 2.5 hours of hands-on cooking and learning, and 30 minutes of sitting around a beautiful farm table enjoying the results. The kitchen is neither nut- nor gluten-free, but the class menus can be adapted for vegetarians, vegans and paleo eaters. Kids make up a large chunk of Food Lab’s customer base, and Easton’s mission is to get them excited about cooking while teaching about flavor, simple nutrition and table manners.
A libation station with a variety of pairing options
Food Lab’s atmosphere reflects its teaching style—open, comfortable and low key. And Easton’s cooking philosophy ranges well beyond the burners. “Trust yourself, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes in the kitchen,” she says. “You won’t learn unless you screw up sometimes.”
For class or event space information, visit foodlabboulder.com.