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Central Market Cooking Schools, Texas

by Sally Bernstein

Central Market is an experimental grocery store concept "deep in the heart of Texas." The first Central Market opened in Austin, Texas in 1994 at 4001 N. Lamar. Obviously the concept works as there is now a second Central Market in Austin and one in San Antonio. Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano are in various stages of planning or completion.

Central Market is something like a big (think 64,000 square feet) farmers market, or a "destination fresh market," as they say. Discover the excitement of fresh food, the aroma of coffees, hot baked breads, fresh fruits and vegetables, to name only a few of the amenities. And the store is open only 12 hours a day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., better to control the freshness of the inventory.

Susana TrillingTheir full-service staff of expert employee "partners" is intensively trained in basic food safety and cross-trained in departments including produce, seafood, meat, beer and wine, bulk food, healthy living, specialty grocery, frozen foods, dairy, bakery, deli, cheese, floral, the coffee/smoothie bar and the Chef's Case as well as the Central Market Café.

The fun and colorful climate-controlled produce section offers over 18,000 square feet of space with more than 600 varieties of fresh produce from around the world, including up to 150 varieties of organic fruits, vegetables and herbs in season.

Central Market boasts the best seafood available west of the Mississippi River, with their over 75-foot-long, state-of-the-art seafood cases that display 100 varieties of saltwater and freshwater fish and shellfish.
The meat department features premium choice aged beef, B3R natural beef, choice lamb, bison, veal, Pederson's all-natural pork, emu, Grade-A ice-packed chicken as well as Buddy's natural chicken and over 50 varieties of custom-made sausage.

The wine cellar is stocked with more than 2,000 fine domestic and imported wines, 400 varieties of beer and experts to suggest the perfect label. Specialty foods from around the world include over 180 varieties of mustards, 80 olive oils, 170 salsas, 50 BBQ and pasta sauces as well as an extensive display of Kosher products. Natural and preventative health care products, European-style bakery with more than 60 delicious bread varieties, European pastries, deli cheeses, pickles and olives, over 700 varieties of cheeses, a floral department with more than 100 varieties of flowers, gift baskets, and the Café on the Run for chef-prepared meals to take home and serve.

One of the other benefits at Central Market is the newly renovated Cooking School. More than 14,000 students have attended classes in 2000. By offering over 450 classes per year, the Central Market Cooking School has more cooking classes than any other school in the nation for home chefs. The school attracts star chefs, award-winning cookbook authors, and culinary celebrities. Guest chefs include Paul Prudhomme, Anne Willan, Caprial Pence, Grady Spears, Paula Lambert, Suneeta Vaswani, James Peterson and Rick Rogers.

I had the pleasure of taking a class from Susana Trilling from Oaxaca, Mexico, who is a cookbook author, chef, cooking teacher and the host of a PBS television series. From the foothills of the Sierra Madre, Susana taught celebratory foods of Oaxaca as featured in her TV series and companion cookbook, Seasons of My Heart. We enjoyed Clear Cactus and Sweet Shrimp Soup, Blessed Beet Salad, Pork Loin with Pineapple, Rice Chepil, and Mexican Chocolate Tamales.

NopalesTo see the nopales (prickly pear cactus) prepared was new to many of the students. It had to be roasted, the stickers removed and sliced thin. The beet salad was not only festive, but also tasty. And the pork loin was flattened, stuffed with an excellent filling including pineapple and sliced before serving. But the chocolate tamales were the hit of the evening! A whipped batter of masa, butter, Mexican chocolate, condensed milk, fruit juice, nuts and raisins was added to dried cornhusks, then folded envelope style and tied with a thin piece of husk. After steaming for an hour, the tamales were served. What a treat!

Susana Trilling:


Postal Address:

Susana Trilling, Directora
Seasons of My Heart Cooking School
Rancho Aurora, AP#42 Admon.3
Oaxaca, 68101, Mexico

Phone/ Fax
011-52 (951) - 87726

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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