Chef John Alunni and Jaana Alunni, his wife, are using their talents to help children and adults learn to cook.
The Alunnis opened The Cutting Edge Classroom, 817 N. Herron Road off Snyder Road in Farragut, in July 2016 to bring cooking skills to children and adults.
The Cutting Edge Classroom offers cooking and baking classes for children ages 7 to 15 and adults. The classes can accommodate birthday parties, scout activities and field trips.
Adults can take the classes as a date night, office party, corporate team-building exercise, girls’ night out or other private group events, while church groups and sports teams also can book classes.
“We’re already booked to Valentine’s,” he said. “We’re selling classes out through March now.”
Originally from Pennsylvania, Alunni, a long-time chef, was living in Florida when he moved to Knox County 12 years ago to open Earthfare in Turkey Creek.
“[Then] I taught culinary arts for Pellissippi [State Community College] and the University of Tennessee, and within that I also taught Kids University at UT; so I had the experience and I decided I loved teaching kids and adults,” Alunni said.
“My wife and I decided to go into the business [and] start teaching kids’ classes.”
The couple started children’s classes at Karns Community Center in February 2016.
“The kids’ classes started doing well, so we decided, ‘OK, we have something here. Let’s
go ahead and get a brick-and-mortar [building] and start classes,’” he said. “We looked for locations and this [one] happened
to be perfect. It’s a good central location.
“We started with kids and ended up doing adults and kids,” Alunni added. “When we started [The Cutting Edge Classroom], our thought process was we felt like kids weren’t getting that education anymore — I guess they called it ‘Home Ec’ back in the day — but it seems like kids just aren’t learning those basic life skills.
“So, we started out to offer that to families, to teach their kids how to cook, how to work together, to be self-sufficient, work as a team, etiquette and safety in the kitchen. The adult classes are kind of the same. You know, they’re enrichment classes and some are just fun. We do date nights, couples’ classes and wine pairings.
“We do regular skills classes and a lot of international cuisine, so pretty much whatever folks decide they want is what we offer them.”
At a class on holiday pies Tuesday, Nov. 21, about six turned out to try their hand at apple and pumpkin pies, from making the pie crust to the filling.
“My good friend got me started,” said Angie Garrett, a student from Maryville. “She came before I did, and I wanted to try it out and loved it.”
She’s only been to three classes at last check. “I love it,” Garrett said. “We did the Italian rustic [class] and a tamale class and now, a pie class.”
“I started over the summer,” said Rosemary Burns, Garrett’s friend who also is from Maryville. “I took the crepe class with my daughter, who just got married. Then, I told [Garrett] about it, and we took the rustic Italian [class] and the tamale class, and I did the sauce class a couple weeks ago. I’m doing the Christmas cookie class in a couple weeks. I just thought it was fun, and you get to meet lots of interesting people, too.”
The take-and-bake pie class was Oak Ridger Geoff de Beouclair’s first class, which he took to make dessert for Thanksgiving.
“My wife found [The Cutting Edge Classroom] online,”
de Beouclair said. “We’re new to the area so she finds a lot of stuff online.
“I’m excited,” he said about taking the class. “I like making as much as I can from scratch, so it will be a good experience.”
Families also can use the classes as a bonding exercise between parents and children. Alunni said the classes are very hands-on and interactive. Children’s classes usually are two hours, while adult classes usually run about three hours.
After the cooking is done, Alunni said, “Everybody eats what they made in class, so no one goes home hungry.”
For more information, call 865-335-9370 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org/. Classes may be booked at www.thecuttingedgeclassroom.com/.