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Steamboat Magazine

Cooking Fundamentals with Elkstone Farm

07/30/2018 03:54PM ● By Alesha Damerville

Images by Alesha Damerville

By Alesha Damerville

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – If you’re looking to brush up on your cooking skills, increase your vocabulary and make some new friends, Elkstone Farm provides the opportunity for you to accomplish each of those goals while participating in their “Cooking Fundamentals” classes.

Chefs Erin Torgerson and Chereen Leong Schwarz combine their love of food and farming and create cooking classes around the building blocks of kitchen confidence.

“When we built the kitchen, we designed it in hopes to host classes someday,” says Terry Huffington, owner of Elkstone Farm. “Erin started here part-time, and I connected her with Chereen. It blossomed from there.”

“They come at the classes from different ways and stimulate each other’s creativity. Their egos aren’t involved – they love food, food culture, farm-to-table and minimizing waste. They’re an amazing team,” Huffington says. 

The setup in the kitchen is small but personal. Attendees of the “Cooking Fundamentals” class on Friday, July 27, were immersed in a complete cooking experience including a tour of the farm, an informative lecture and hands-on cooking activities. The creative energy of Torgerson and Leong Schwarz can be felt from inside the room. They work off one another’s strengths while creating a fun and relaxing learning environment. 

Aprons, cutting boards, knives, menus and booklets hold the place for each participant. The contents of the booklets include knife skills, a rundown on pork, a taste of French culinary vocabulary, the recipes to be prepared throughout the class and a selection of books recommended by the chefs. 

The purpose of the tour is to offer a history of the farm, how it got started and how working with mother nature makes the farm run. “It’s a really eloquent dance,” Torgerson says. “The first part of the tour we touch on our short growing season in the Yampa Valley and demonstrate how we combat these challenges. We have the permaculture garden that comes back every year, as well as the heated greenhouse and the hoop-houses to try and get ahead of the season to maximize the amount of the things we can grow.” The second part of the tour highlights what is in season, and what products will be used during the class.

These dinners invite people to the farm and show them how beautiful the space is, the things that grow there and how to use them. “I think people more and more are conscious about where their food is coming from, but get intimidated by cooking,” Torgerson says. 

“Our goal is to have people head home with arms full of fresh vegetables from the farmers market and have the confidence to make something delicious. You don’t have to be a three-Michelin-star chef to make really good food. The simpler, the better.”

The next “Cooking Fundamentals” class is scheduled for Friday, August 25. Elkstone Farm also offers a “Pantry Basics” class, farm tours and lunches, and Farm-to-Table79 dinners. For more information visit