Focus On: Bygone Basics Culinary School

WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTOS l  BYGONE BASICS

Located within Amanda’s Bequest Bed and Breakfast, Bygone Basics Culinary School in Montague is bringing back old-style cooking traditions through heirloom culinary lessons. Chef Valerie Hanson along with her husband, John, open the doors to students with classes ranging from bread and butter making to canning to pickling to soap making.

Initially, classes were offered from the small kitchen of their previous home. After an article highlighting Bygone Basics appeared in a Chicago paper, things exploded for the duo, and soon a new larger kitchen was needed. Hence the move to Amanda’s Bequest.  After plenty of remodeling, guests were welcomed to the bed and breakfast, and class registration began. So far, participants have come from 39 countries!

The nationwide surge in interest in the art of farm-to-table cooking and traditions like preserving fresh food has created a wave of popularity for cooking classes taught by a pro such as Chef Valerie. Her love for what used to be known as “putting food by” is the driving force for the success of Bygone Basics.  These are not your traditional cooking classes. Rather, they are hands-on, up to your elbows in flour or whatever it is you might be making!  Step by step, Chef Valerie will walk you through creating a mouthwatering dish you can be proud of, along with teaching you skills that will stay with you for a lifetime.

One of the most popular classes involves making your own pasta and gourmet sauce. You form the dough and roll out the pasta by hand, learning how to add subtle yet flavorful herbs and spices to transform a basic recipe into a magical delight. The ravioli is a big crowd pleaser. Next to pasta making, bread and pie making classes poll a close second. In 2014, Bygone Basics was voted into the Top 10 of Michigan’s Best Pie Makers.

Bygone Basics welcomes a wide variety of groups and individuals to their range of class options.  A few of the choices include:

Full Immersion Experience:  A half or full day where you determine the experience, learning about the history and origins of the recipes for the meal you make.
Learn and Do: Classes planned and scheduled by Chef Valerie
Select and Eat:  Heirloom recipes
Stay and Play:  Stay at the B&B and learn to cook!
 From mothers and daughters who want to learn to cook together to girlfriend weekends and couple getaways to corporate team building, you can pretty much tailor the experience to suit your group!

Bygone Basics offers a Young Chef’s class as well. Valerie’s most recent Young Chef’s class happened to consist entirely of 12-year-old boys who signed up randomly. She says that class was a real hoot to teach, and all the boys did very well. Interestingly, Valerie says that there is a current upward trend in male students, who often come to learn how to can venison or make pasta.

Of course, Valerie and John serve their tasty wares at the bed and breakfast and offer them for sale so that guests can take them home to enjoy later. Most of their creations are also available in their online store to be shipped directly to your home.

Be sure to visit the website to see a full list of upcoming classes and events.

 Bygone Basics Culinary School l 5200 Anderson Road, Montague 49437 l (231) 740-4065