Get Cooking At The Red Elephant Bakery School

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Red Elephant cooking school attendees practice slicing fruits and vegetables during a Tuesday class at the bakery.

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Chef Nathan Pullen shows cooking school participants how to properly slice a tomato.

If you have ever aspired to make your own desserts or present your food like a professional, a local bakery is offering cooking edification.

The Red Elephant Bakery, at 1101 S. Beeline Highway, has opened up the Red Elephant Cooking School.

Classes are held every Tuesday at the bakery starting at 6 p.m., and run two to three hours.

Topics range from knife skills to baking to garnishing, all with Nathan Pullen, a classically trained chef who graduated from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, a Le Cordon Bleu accredited school.

After graduating from culinary school in 2001, Pullen worked as the executive pastry chef at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale for five years.

A resident of Star Valley, Pullen first met Leonie Dobbins, owner of the Red Elephant, after tasting her rolls at The Small Cafe.

Pullen asked the then owner were he got his rolls, and he directed him to Dobbins.

After discussing her recipe, Dobbins and Pullen became friends.

Dobbins eventually asked Pullen if he would teach her and her staff some new kitchen skills and techniques.

“I found out I still got a lot to learn myself,” Dobbins said after attending one of the cooking classes hosted at the bakery.

Pullen agreed, and soon friends and family members of staff wanted to attend the classes.

Ultimately, Pullen and Dobbins developed a class schedule based on requests. While each class focuses on a specific topic, Pullen and Dobbins are open to suggestions for new classes.

“We tailor each class to the participants’ experience level and what they want to get out of the class,” Pullen said.

Since each class is limited to six people, reservations are required. The cost to attend is $30 per person.

Each participant leaves class with a reference manual, recipes and supplemental information to take home.

So far, the classes have been a win-win for bakery owner and chef. Pullen gets to spread his love of cooking, and Dobbins improves her own skills and her bakery offerings.

The class schedule for the next month includes:

Feb. 16, Baking 101: Yeast dough, pie and tart dough, mixing and baking techniques.

Feb. 23, Presentation 101: How to make food appealing. Garnishes and display techniques.

March 2, Chocolate 101: Selecting and using chocolate for tempering and candy making.

Call (928) 468-6202 to sign up for a class or for more information.

Dobbins and Pullen are also available for in-home cooking demonstrations/classes. Pullen said the classes are perfect for people who want to have a party in their own kitchen with a group of friends.

In addition, look for the Red Elephant at the upcoming Taste of the Rim chef’s competition.

Dobbins is also interested in starting up a monthly dinner club for women.

The event would include dinner and entertainment for women held at the bakery. Dobbins tried the event once in the past with a sushi dinner, and it was a huge success.

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