By Tanya Henry
When the news broke last March that Napa’s long unoccupied Copia cultural center had a new owner, a collective sigh of relief reverberated throughout the culinary community. And when the rumors that the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) would be the new tenant were confirmed, more celebration ensued.
Though the 78,000 square-foot center is still in the process of its million-dollar-plus renovations, they have quietly opened the doors to their retail store, and have started offering winter classes in a 72-seat, state-of-the-art culinary demonstration kitchen. Officially named the Napa Valley Vintners Theater, the teaching space is set up to provide food and beverage enthusiasts with everything from wine tastings and interactive hands-on classes, to lecture-style programs.
“We want the public to get a peek into what students learn at CIA,” explains Sandy Sauter, who has been the manager of culinary demonstrations at the CIA at Greystone for the last six years and has now come on board at Copia. “We are also making sure our classes are accessible and affordable.” She notes that prices begin as low as $15—and go up to $60 per person, and are typically one-to-two hours in length.
Some of the enticing classes in the lineup include a “How To” series that offers insider tips on a variety of topics, including How to Taste Wine in 90 Seconds, Preserving: Beyond Canning, How to Make Eclairs & Their Cousins and How to Make Your Own Condiments. Traci Dutton, sommelier and manager of the wine and beverage studies at CIA Greystone, will be teaching Bubbles for Every Occasion on December 19. On Sundays (also known as Family Funday), Copia is offering classes for the whole family, including Mac & Cheese, Brunch Batters and Lunchbox Magic. Other classes include Savvy Chef: Honey Secrets, Pairing Basics: Basic Flavor Interactions and many more!
What sets this program apart from other cooking classes is the caliber and level of professional instruction that folks receive. An opportunity to learn from some of the best teachers in the industry is nothing short of a coup.
Along with world-class instruction, Copia will soon offer (in the spring) a 90-seat restaurant, outdoor eating options (they have a pizza oven) and the opportunity to stroll around their newly planted gardens—complete with a water feature and fruit trees.
The CIA at Copia, 500 1st Street, Napa; enthusiasts.ciachef.edu/cia-at-copia.