Calendar » Get Out

Flour Power

Bev Shaffer takes the edge off of epicurian education.

by

comment
Chef Bev Shaffer knows there's more than one thing to do with a bottle of vodka.

"Slit two Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans and pop them into the bottle," instructs the spoon-wielding expert. "Leave it alone for about three weeks, until it starts to smell really good. For seven bucks, you've got a big bottle of pure vanilla."

Shaffer has been slinging such tips over the past 16 years to more than 15,000 students, on her own and now at the Mustard Seed Cooking School, where she's been teaching for three years.

"I grew up in a cooking family," Shaffer says. "My mom was ethnic and cooked a lot. To me, cooking should be eclectic. I've done a lot of Tuscan cooking lately, and I also like Asian and Hungarian."

Shaffer got most of her teaching experience while she and her husband owned and operated the now-closed What's Cooking? school and store in Bath. Besides working culinary magic on local television stations, she's had national exposure as well. Chocolatier magazine ran a two-page spread on her award-winning Double Chocolate Raspberry Tart, and she contributed edible ornaments to the White House's "culinary" Christmas trees.

Shaffer pooh-poohs the idea that good cooking must be difficult, and that's the first thing she tells her students at the Mustard Seed. "There's nothing I hate more than making something sound more complicated than it is. My classes aren't intimidating -- people come to relax and have a good time."

Case in point: a recent "Chocolate Desserts of the Moment" class, in which about two dozen people plunked down 28 bucks apiece to watch Shaffer beat a biscotti batter, whip up a flourless chocolate cake, and assemble a bread pudding.

Then comes the pinnacle of the class, when one of Shaffer's assistants clears his throat and says, "Rows one and two may now come up for samples."

Relax and have a good time? Don't mind if I do.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.