“He is so much fun…and I love his scientific insights as he teaches us cooking!” one cooking class participant recently exclaimed.

If you attend one of Chef Michael’s virtual cooking classes at Gilda’s, you’re likely to notice a few things immediately. First, his passion for cooking, with him speaking enthusiastically about the science of cooking and how things can be both tasty and nutritious. You’ll notice the number of rapt faces paying attention to each word, each demonstration of a technique that will help them make the most of their cooking experience. You can practically smell the delicious-looking dishes through the screen.

1,500 program visits and counting

September 27th marked the 100th cooking class with Chef Michael at Gilda’s (twice-baked butternut squash) since May of 2020. There is so much to celebrate about those 100 classes, including over 1,500 program visits by more than 200 people! There are lots of “regulars” who attend class after class!

The recipes covered run the gamut. Recent topics include soba noodles with zucchini, edamame and spinach; homemade tomato jam; and the science of pesto.

But, for Chef Michael, there is a bigger mission at play than simply teaching folks how to prepare a recipe. “I love that I can take the philosophies that my Grandma taught me when I was five years old with everything I’ve learned since then to help cook things that are nutritious and pleasing to the palate,” he explains.

Removing barriers to healthy eating

Chef Michael brings with him a wealth of cooking experience. Prior to starting the cooking classes at Gilda’s, he helped open 24 restaurants before becoming a cooking teacher 10 years ago.

The virtual cooking classes are one of the “silver linings” of the pandemic. They started early on, when everyone was becoming fully adjusted to connecting virtually through Zoom. Now, participants say that they love that the classes are virtual, because this removes the geographic and health barriers of attending in person.

“A knowledgeable and enthusiastic chef”

Reaching this milestone means so much to Chef Michael, the Gilda’s Club staff, and the “regulars” who’ve been a part of the classes since the beginning. One of the attendees recently shared, “I always learn a lot — Michael is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic chef.”

Chef Michael has been able to take what he learned during those early days to create a new business- Sage Harvest Cooking School (now part of Glorioso’s Appetito in Milwaukee). “The tenets of our mission in developing Gilda’s Club classes are shared by Appetito and Sage Harvest. This is a movement of food.”

Learning to cook easy, delicious and healthy recipes is a critical piece of anyone’s cancer experience, whether they have a diagnosis or are a caregiver. As one participant recently shared, “The class was fantastic! I love cooking, and it offered a safe and fun distraction while battling childhood cancer in our home.”

You can see a list of upcoming cooking classes by visiting gildasclubmadison.org/cooking.

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