Cooking Class with Chef Gwen


I “retired” from teaching cooking classes in 2005, with one exception… I teach one class a year at Barbara Pool Fenzl’s (pictured above) cooking school, Les Gourmettes in Phoenix. There’s a reason I can’t quit Les Gourmettes. Actually, three reasons:

1. Barbara is the Grande Dame of Southwestern cooking in Arizona. She is the author of several authoritative cookbooks on Southwestern cooking and the host of several PBS cooking shows. She was my mentor when I launched my teaching career. She opened her school on the advice of her good friend, Julia Child, 30 years ago this year. Barbara is my “Julia.” She brings in major national talent to teach at her school each season, and she hand picks her favorite local chefs to come and teach. It’s a huge honor to be included on her roster. This will be my 12th year teaching at Les Gourmettes.

2, The school is in Barbara’s gorgeous, spacious home on Central Avenue. The kitchen is cozy, set up for an intimate experience with the guests. She only takes 15 students per class and so it’s easy to get up close and personal with the students. In fact, if you’re in the front row, you might get splattered, so use the recipe handouts as a shield (kidding, sort of).

3. The kind of people who come to Barbara’s classes are my favorite kind of people. They love food, they’re curious about cooking, and they’re eager to learn. They also want to eat delicious food after the class, and that’s my job, to make sure they had fun & learned something tangible to take home, and to give them a taste of delicious dishes they can recreate at home.

My one and only appearance at Les Gourmettes this year will be March 4 & 5. The morning class on Wednesday is already sold out, but there are 6 spots available Tuesday evening. I’m teaching a make-ahead brunch menu, perfect for Easter or Mother’s Day or just for a Spring al fresco get together with friends.

The class is is from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and costs $75. It includes a copy of the recipes, the demonstration, and a chance to dine in Barbara’s lovely dining room to share the meal and a glass of wine with the other students.

Barbara doesn’t have a website, so if you’re interested in taking the class, give her a call.

Here’s the menu, and I’ll have an amuse bouche to tide you over until we eat:

  • Scottish Oat Blueberry Flapjacks
  • Sun-dried Tomato & Pine Nut Chicken Salad
  • Lemon Mousse with Raspberry Purée
  • Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies.

Les Gourmettes Cooking School
6610 N Central Ave
Phoenix, Arizona 85012

2 replies
  1. Marti Koehn
    Marti Koehn says:

    Gwen, I first attended classes you taught at Kitchen Classics. I miss that store!! For a many years I have tried to get into your classes at Barbara’s. They always fill up!! Lucky for me I was able to attend the morning class today, 3/5. You are such an amazing and fun teacher!! The recipes are delicious, practical, and often time make ahead friendly (if that is such a term!).
    When I have a dinner party I often go to my recipes that you shared at Kitchen Classics or to the two books (Ski & Golf)I have of yours.
    Thank you for sharing your gift & talent for cooking & teaching.

    PS- I feel the same way about Barbara!! She is so easy going and a wealth of knowledge. Barbara, her kitchen, and home are warm & welcoming. You certainly don’t get that experience at any store and to be honest you don’t get it at most restaurants.

    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Marti, how gracious of you to take time to share that. I am so glad you came to class. Thank you.


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