Zest! Cooking School
The Local Culinary Class You’ve Been Waiting For
For culinary adventurers Sharon and Jim Landis, it all started with a desire to supply the ‘foodies’ of their town with their favorite kitchen products. After their travels through France, Italy and the United States, the husband and wife team decided that a cooking supply store crafted specifically with their hand-picked collection would fit perfectly in their historic Lititz town. In 2012, Zest! was born.
As the storefront experienced success, their vision grew. Cooking classes became part of Sharon’s dream for the location, and they were determined to make it happen. “On the journey, we realized there was nothing in Lancaster County that was supplying the desire for cooking classes,” Sharon said. So in 2014, Sharon and Jim opened their kitchen doors to welcome the community that wanted to learn.
Their reputation grew quickly, and they soon found their classes selling out. Zest!’s in-store kitchen could only hold 12 students at a time, so it was time to take the leap into bigger territory – a separate space for the cooking school that would allow them to offer more classes, include more students, and create a more hands-on experience. Zest! Cooking School opened just this February 2018, and already, their classes are full of eager participants.
“Our instructors walk you through everything you have to do. Our classes include beginners, home cooks, couples who want a date-night out, groups of friends who come together. It’s fun for everybody,” Sharon said. Zest!’s new cooking school is able to hold 24 students per class. Designed by Kitchens by Eileen in Lititz, it’s full of state-of-the-art materials all supplied from local businesses such as Martin Appliance in Brownstown and Stray Production Services in Lititz. “Lititz has truly become a ‘foodie’ town, so really it’s the perfect place for us,” she says.
The classes at Zest! Cooking School, only three miles from their retail store, are now offered multiple times a week, usually at 6 PM, as well as mornings, such as 10 AM and noon on the weekends. The variety in their class schedule is limitless—from classic favorites such as pizza and skillet meals to international gems like Middle Eastern staples and Thai curries. Baking classes, from breads to desserts, such as their super popular French macaron class, are also available. There are kids cooking classes for all ages, too. This summer Zest! will be offering kids (ages 7-12), as well as teen (ages 13-16), cooking camps which span over multiple days.
No matter which option you choose to explore, one thing is for certain: you’ll get your hands dirty, and you can eat all the food you make at the end of the class. Sharon and culinary director Lolly Kratz are consistently working with the best chefs they can find to make sure that each month is better than the last. As the interest and demand continues to rise for the cooking experience, with students coming from Reading, Harrisburg, York, and even Maryland, Sharon assures that their exceptional line-up of classes is only going to grow. The current focus: introducing classes centered around health, such as heart-healthy, vegan, and gluten-free classes often taught by registered dietitians.
Sharon says the mission of Zest! Cooking School embodies this quote by Julia Child, which adorns one of the walls in the new space: “This is my invariable advice to people: learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun.” That’s what they are passionate about offering to their students – an experience that they can take along home to their own kitchen.