Laurel Run Cooking School in Vermilion is resuming classes in January

Laurel Run Cooking School resumes classes in January. (Larissa Berryswill – Morning Journal)

Laurel Run Cooking School, 2600 North Ridge Road in Vermilion, will resume cooking classes in January.

Laurel Run is a family owned and operated culinary school, according to Marcia DePalma, founder of Laurel Run.

Each class usually has a specific subject or theme, but Laurel Run’s goal is to teach classic cooking techniques, DePalma said.

“I’ve always said that I want to not only share a recipe, but also learn what goes on in the pan,” she said. “Food science and technology is very important to me.”

DePalma said it will be her daughter, Laura DePalma Isabella, leading the next generation after her culinary experience in Chicago and New York.

“Although I will greatly miss the teaching and the wonderful people who came to the cooking school, I felt the time was right for my daughter Laura to step in and start the second generation of Laurel Run,” said the mother.

While Isabella will “take the reins,” DePalma said she plans to appear as a guest chef.

“I go to the cooking school almost every day and sometimes I feel lonely,” DePalma said. “It will be wonderful to bring it back to life full of students, excitement and delicious aromas.”

Guests can expect the same relaxed and friendly atmosphere as before, according to Isabella.

“For both hands-on and demo-style classes, there will be updated versions of fan favorites … combined with many new offerings and topics,” she said.

Future plans include the Cooking With Friends series and Basic Techniques workshops, as well as other topics related to brunch, girls’ nights out, date nights and cooking with the whole family, Isabella said.

Because of her lifelong love of cooking and interest in growing herbs, DePalma said that with the support of her husband, children and family, she opened Laurel Run in 1996 on the family property.

“I’m proud of what we’ve created as a family,” she said. “Thanks to their support and willingness to share their personal space, I was able to live my dream.”

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Isabella said she didn’t realize how deep the cooking gene ran in the family until she graduated.

“Before I knew it, I was packing up in Ohio and heading to New York, where I lived from 2006 to 2014,” she said.

Isabella said she has extensive cooking education and experience, ranging from a master’s degree in food studies to a culinary magazine editor.

She said she has cooked for countless private events and supper clubs, worked in food-oriented public relations and marketing, and was even hired as a private chef on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Isabella said she started at Laurel Run as a teenager washing dishes and taught her first class in 2011.

While it “felt like the right time,” Isabella said it wasn’t always the case, especially after the coronavirus pandemic and moving to different states.

“It wasn’t until I started my other business (Chakra Kitchen + Wellness) earlier this year that things started to make more sense,” she said. “And that the future is starting to look clearer in terms of what’s expected to come next with the cooking school.”

Laurel Run ended classes at the end of 2017, just shy of 22 years and almost 2,000 classes taught, according to DePalma.

“My goal has always been to make Laurel Run an enjoyable and engaging place to learn, and to fulfill my mission of the Three E’s: to educate; excite; and entertain,” she said. “And I feel like I’ve accomplished that.”

Isabella said that while it was a little nerve-wracking, she was excited about the opportunity.

“I have big shoes to fill,” she said. “My mother has left such an indelible mark on the community, and I want to make sure I honor and continue the legacy she built at Laurel Run.”

There will be an open house at Laurel Run from noon to 3 p.m., Dec. 17, where guests can learn more information, enjoy refreshments and purchase gift cards.

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