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Tasting Course

The University of Richmond is capitalizing on a national trend that might have seemed unlikely a decade ago — a center specifically for recreational cooking. “I guess I have the Food Network to thank, because everybody wants to learn to cook,” chef Martin Gravely says.

After years as a cooking teacher around town, Gravely is heading the new Center for Culinary Arts at 9722 Gayton Road, where individuals and groups can learn about food and beverages, gather socially or earn a culinary certificate in a 14-session program.

“We are mainly geared toward the hobby cook — people who want to elevate their game or who want personal enrichment. It's a low-stress environment and fun. You play, you win,” Gravely says of the center.

The staff will customize classes for parties, corporate groups and others, emphasizing versatility with hands-on practice or demonstration courses to fit the occasion. On second Fridays, guest or resident chefs will team up with wine specialists to create multicourse dinners with wine pairings — “an instructional and highly social evening out,” Gravely says. The all-inclusive tariff is $89 for each session.

Fundamentals in kitchen technique come first, but Gravely wants students to feel empowered to develop their own recipes after they learn the basics. Classes are wide-ranging, from microroasting coffee beans to cooking wild game. See www.scs.richmond.edu/ocpe for details and a course catalog, or call 422-COOK.

Finer Wine

Rappahannock Cellars: The prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition gave high honors in July to the Blue Ridge Mountain winery: a double gold medal for its 2006 Cabernet Franc and a gold medal for its 2007 Viognier. www.rappahannockcellars.com.

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