Get to Know a Passionate Cook and Entrepreneur
Look what’s cooking at Art of the Meal! Release your inner chef in our deliciously fun, technique based, hands-on cooking classes! Our space and kitchen are a labor of love from my heart to yours. I wanted a place for my guests to cook that was warm, comfortable, and inviting. Enjoy yourself in our kitchen, make a mess, have a glass of wine, and enjoy the process.
Art of the Meal Cooking School is dedicated to teaching real kitchen skills, not just a menu. So although many classes present a cuisine, it is the underlying technique that informs our classes. Once you have learned proper cooking methods, let your imagination and palate take you on a culinary journey!
Participants can sign up for specific classes, we have many options and are always open to suggestions! You will take a hands-on role in preparing the multicourse meal planned for the class, we will guide you from meal prep to dessert. You will enjoy the fruits of your labor and we will do the dishes! We encourage you to bring along a bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal. See you there!
Your culinary coach,
The Story Behind Art of the Meal
In 2013 my husband Dean and I opened a family business in Clear Lake, Texas near Space Center Houston. I wanted something we could do as a family, I had a teenage boy and girl at the time. Jacob was front of the house, Britt was the dishwasher. We had gone out for a date night 9 months earlier, to a cooking class. The couple seated as our partners lived in our neighborhood, and yet we had all driven 45 minutes to participate in the class that night. The idea for Art of the Meal was born… (if you would like to hear the back story scroll ALL the way to the bottom of the page!)
We were in that space for 5 years. We have so many fun memories and we made too many new friends to count. We “retired” here to the hill country two years ago and I thought that our farm, animals and garden would be enough to keep me busy. I have truly loved every minute of it! But the people element was missing for me. I mean, the chickens are great conversationalists, but sometimes a girl just needs more. Enter my wonderful, talented and Godly friend Kristy. We share a passion for our relationship with Christ, His Word, and people. (OK, I’m not going to lie, Kristy likes people more than me.)
After much prayer and searching for the perfect venue I saw a crooked sign in the window of the Old Ken’s Catfish building. If you are not familiar, this is a concrete block building right in the middle of Marble Falls, at the busiest intersection in town. The building needed work, lots of it. I’m always up for a project, so armed with hammers, scrapers, brooms, mops and elbow grease, Kristi and I spent 2 months doing demolition and cleaning. With the help of my carpenter husband we added windows, built ins and flooring. What was a mess is now a sparkling clean “farmhouse industrial” kitchen. We love it.
We know you will love it too. Come by and meet us. Later this year we will be adding a “walk up” on the kitchen side of the building where you can get gourmet treats and bring a bottle of wine to share in our backyard patio. We look forward to making many memories with all of you.
The Back Story
In 2009, I was living on a small farm in Mont Belvieu, TX. Married, homeschooling my kids, and “living the dream,” if you will. I wanted to, and did, project the image of the perfect Martha Stewart wife and mother. Working on the farm, cooking from scratch, tending the garden and chickens, even milking my cow, Mabel, and in general exuding the quiet (and lethal) pride of a life of which many can only dream. However, as the Scriptures say “First pride, then the crash – the bigger the ego, the harder the fall” (Proverbs 16:18). So, it was with me. Over two years’ time, and many, many poor decisions on my part, I lost my husband, my kids, and my home. (Pause and let that register for a few seconds).
Sparing you the ugly details of the next several years, I found myself redeemed, restored, and renewed by 2011. My family was still lost to me, but The Lord, in His mercy provided me with a loving husband, stable home, and a renewed relationship with my precious children. I found myself, at that time searching for my purpose and passion in life. Something that would please The Lord, a way for me to do something that was a good fit for me and the talents He had provided.
As I was searching, I began to pray. I had quite the criteria. It went something like this, Lord, I want to serve You, I would like a job that is close to home, that we can do as a family, that uses the talents You gave me and something that pleases You.” And then I waited and waited and waited.
I had said FOR YEARS I would love to have a restaurant or a bakery, always incurring an emphatic NO from my family (they would never see me, who would feed them, etc.). So, on a whim one night, I suggested we go take a cooking class in downtown Houston for a fun date night. We had a great time and a great meal. However, what I found most intriguing was that the couple we were seated next to were from our city, our part of town, our own neighborhood!
And I began to think how far we had driven that night to attend the class, and the thought occurred to me we had nothing like that on our side of town. By the time we reached the car, the Kitchen-Aid mixer in my head (love this!) was already churning. I turned to my husband, Dean, and said, “You know, I could do that.” And…waited. Being the encourager that he is, he agreed, and so my journey began. I spent the next three months scouring the internet for other cooking schools.
And to my surprise, I found a great number of them scattered all over the United States and around the world. I looked for things like how long had they been in business, what types of classes and events did they offer? What were they charging? How many had closed down? It was interesting, as I had never owned a business before and really had no idea where to start.
I leaned on the Lord for direction and He led the way as I listened. It was a great journey on the road to what faith really looks like in my life.
I spent the majority of my time focusing on the reviews of the other businesses. I was really interested to see what people enjoyed about the classes. I wanted to know their likes and dislikes and what the cooking schools could do better.
That was the beginning of my business plan. So, having never owned a business like that before, or any other for that matter, I had a good idea already of what people wanted. I also took into consideration that we were not downtown but in the ‘burbs’, if you will. So, our demographic really came into play in terms of the types of cuisine that would be popular, and the best hosting dates and times for successful classes.
After amassing my spreadsheet, and consulting the Lord and my husband, I had the go-ahead to begin to search for a property. That in itself was an education at the expense of starting your own business! Most of the restaurant properties we looked at needed major renovation, and the non-restaurant spaces would require a huge investment to build a kitchen area that complied with the health and city codes.
It seemed as though each one had its own problems or exorbitant price point. Then one day we happened upon an unimproved space in a great area of Nassau Bay. We called our realtor and looked at it, he told us the buildout would be upwards of $100,000. I thought at that time well, ok, we will keep looking. And we did, for several weeks. Then surprisingly, one day about a month later we received a call from the realtor and he told us that the landlord would like to meet with us, that he liked my business plan.
My thinking was well, that’s great, but there is still the whole money issue, but I prayed on it, and we went off to our meeting. The day we met with him, he told us that he would pay for 80% of the buildout if we were ready to sign a lease.
As far as I was concerned that was a concrete answer to all my prayers. So, we signed, built, opened, and got really busy. It has definitely been a journey in faith. As such, I always tell people I do not advertise. I pray, The Lord sends the people He wants to be here right through the front door and we are blessed. Not one person steps foot in AOTM that has not been prayed over personally by me.
As Martha would say, “It’s a good thing.”