Before your wedding, you might be looking for an activity to bond with your bridesmaids while having some fun. If food is your thing and learning how to cook healthy is too, then a Nourshing Widsom bridal cooking party with Holly Shelowitz might be for you.
Holly is a Rhinebeck-based nutrition counselor whose resume includes workshops for corporations like Whole Foods and Mother Earth’s Stores, and you can also hear her talk about food as a reoccurring guest on Radio Woodstock’s Morning Show. Her cooking classes for brides is something that she has been doing for a long time, since 1999 to be exact, when she was completing her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and the National Gourmet Institute in New York City. “I was contacted around that time by a maid of honor who’d heard on the internet that I was giving classes for individuals. She was planning a trip upstate with the bride-to-be and some bridesmaids, and wanted to set up something special for the weekend. I was thrilled to do that,” recalls Holly. “After that, cooking classes for brides took on a life of its own as it spread by word of mouth.”
Today Holly gives several bridal cooking classes a month during the wedding season, teaching future brides and their bridesmaids (and sometimes the groom and his groomsmen) about healthy eating and proper cooking techniques. Her 2 1/2 hour classes are held all across the Hudson Valley and in New York City in a variety of venues. “Sometimes brides and their bridesmaids will come up for a weekend in advance of their wedding and rent out a house with a really nice kitchen. Other times, I rent out kitchens for brides who have limited space for a cooking party,” says Holly.
Each cooking party is customized to every bride and group with a variety of menus. “Normally I suggest a healthy Mediterranean cuisine menu, but we can also do Thai, Moroccan — whatever flavors, spices, and dishes appeal to a group,” Holly explains. “I also make sure that any dietary considerations are taken into account for vegetarians or people who are dairy or gluten-free.”
A common thread throughout all of Holly’s cooking classes, no matter what the cuisine, is learning to make practical, healthy meals at home. Holly says, “The whole point is that every dish becomes part of the students’ repertoire and they can make them all the time. And this really helps brides who maybe are career women and don’t have a lot of time to cook complicated meals.”
Sometimes Holly’s classes are more than about savory dinners. Sometimes they are all about chocolate making. “In these classes we make chocolate from scratch,” explains Holly. “I teach bridal parties about grinding their own cocoa and creating chocolate tablets with natural sweeteners such as honey, maple, or coconut sugar. Then we decorate them with nuts, dried fruits, and rose petals.” Other treats created during chocolate cooking classes are truffles, dipping sauces, and a healthy chocolate-hazelnut spread.
An interesting variant of the chocolate cooking party is the lingerie & chocolate party. Holly laughs as she recalls how the first of these offbeat classes came into being. “I was working with a woman’s group in New York City for about a year and around that time I went to Costa Rica to learn about chocolate growing. I mentioned to someone that I wanted to teach about chocolate making and one of the ladies in the group said, ‘Why don’t we have a class and wear lingerie?’ It was something that was so hilarious and daring that I decided to do it, and everyone in the group said yes. Everyone came to the class after work and everyone was giggling and having fun. It fit because chocolate is really a sensual food.”
After each cooking class, Holly and her students sit down to enjoy the fruits of their labor together. “Normally we eat family style but if a particular group wants to be served at a sit-down dinner, I can arrange for a team of assistants to be servers for the evening,” Holly points out.
Also, there is swag: each person who attends a class receives a printed deck of cards featuring all the recipes made. As an add-on, Holly can also arrange for custom aprons or wooden spoons with the bride’s name printed on front, or any other sentiment.
When planning a cooking party with Holly, she recommends a minimum of 2–3 months in advance. Earlier if ordering custom aprons or spoons, or any other personalized items. During the wedding season, Holly says she can book up fast and might not be personally available for all dates. However, she does have a number of associates with whom she can arrange a great cooking party even at the last minute.
“It can be extremely busy, but it’s a lifestyle that I love. And the Hudson Valley is for me the perfect location to do this with all our farm-to-table foods, and the natural beauty and bounty of this place,” says Holly. With that sentiment, we couldn’t agree more.
Does a bridal cooking party sound like fun?
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Learn more about Holly Shelowitz’s bridal cooking classes visit http://www.nourishingwisdom.com/ or call (845) 658‑7887.
To discuss your wedding with Duetimage Hudson Valley Wedding Photographers, call (845) 905‑6323 or visit: http://www.duetimage.com/contact.