Couples cooking class set to heat things up at bed and breakfast

Couples looking to heat things up ahead of Valentine’s Day can get things cooking at Blessings on State Bed and Breakfast.

Blessings owner Gwenn Eyer is playing host Feb. 11 for a couples cooking class led by Susan Steffan of Galena.

Steffan, a former innkeeper herself, appeared on Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship” in 2015, winning the first round and doing “pretty well” in the second before “I completely crashed and burned in the third episode and went home,” she said .

That crash was OK with Steffan, who said she hangs her hat — and her pride — on winning that first episode.

“I just didn’t want to be the first one going home,” she said.

Once home, Steffan opened a cooking school in Galena, where it was both a tourist attraction — “I was amazed at the attention you get being on a Food Network show,” she said — and a “fun, audience-participation demonstration of meals that are very do-able for anyone with basic cooking skills.”

That’s her intent for the Blessings cooking class.

“That’s what I focus on — meals that are delicious but easy … for anyone with basic skills,” she said.

While Steffan and her husband, Don, have sold their bed and breakfast and the cooking school closed, she is only semi-retired. She teaches the occasional cooking class and is trying to decide whether to update and reprint her cookbook, “Breakfast Diva: Morning Favorites,” or simply write a new one.

“I love doing these small school venues,” she said of the class. “I love teaching. I enjoy a small classroom.”

She also enjoys “an active presentation style,” she said.

“I don’t want to stand in front of a group and talk for an hour,” Steffan said. “I want people to interact with me.”

The class won’t involve participating couples cooking their own meal for two. Instead, participants will assist Steffan in cooking and demonstrating techniques before enjoying a formal meal in the Blessings dining room.

The class will probably run around 90 minutes before participants take a break to change for dinner, Eyer said.

“Susan will host it, kind of like a chef’s table,” Eyer said. “A chef’s table that just happens to be my dining room table.”

Participants also will receive a recipe book with tips and techniques demonstrated during the class.

The meal — beef Bourguignon and accompaniments with a naked Black Forest cake for dessert — will feature locally sourced ingredients, including grass-fed beef from Bland Family Farm, fresh bread from Obadiah’s Bakery and a citrus vinaigrette dressing from Proud Richard’s for the salad, Eyer said.

Eyer and Steffan, who bonded during an innkeeping conference in Cincinnati and now are good friends, already are planning a second Blessings cooking class in the spring, Eyer said, noting that they could become a semi-regular event at the bed and breakfast.

“She’s no longer an innkeeper and, so, has a little bit of time,” Eyer said of Steffan. “She has a good stage presence and good techniques for (cooking) training. She’s also very engaging and entertaining and it seemed like a good fit.”

Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast’s Couples Cooking Class with Susan Steffan will be at 4:30 pm Feb. 11 at the bed and breakfast at 1109 W. State St. The cost is $150 per couple and includes the class and the formal dinner party to follow. For more information, contact Eyer at 217-245-1013.

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