Vail Valley chef offers cooking classes |

Vail Valley chef offers cooking classes

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Vail Daily file photoRick Kangas, an instructor at Colorado Mountain College in the Vail Valley, organizes his students raw bread in a new proofing cabinet Wednesday in CMC's new kitchen at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Man food – you know it when you see it, Vail Valley. Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, bacon, pork chops and steak.

“It’s not cucumber tea sandwiches or salads. It’s all things guys like to eat,” said Chef Rick Kangas. Kangas is teaching a non-credit cooking class at Colorado Mountain College this spring exclusively devoted to “man food.”

That’s just one of the courses Kangas cooked up for the season. For the first time ever, the community college is offering non-credit cooking classes, all of which will be held at the new kitchen in Battle Mountain High School in Edwards. The class sizes will be kept small – 15 people max – in order to provide plenty of one-on-one time with Kangas, who has spent the last 12 years teaching culinary courses at the college.

“The kitchen is designed to teach in,” Kangas said. “There’s a 20-foot long counter that’s used as a stage, three overhead cameras, flat sceen TV, a camera that’s mounted on ceiling … It’s got Internet access and we can play instructional DVDs.”

There’s plenty of fun courses on the schedule, like the “Taste the World” series, which includes a Middle Eastern cuisine course focused on everything from curries to cous cous. Kangas will also offer a series of culinary date nights, every Saturday night through April.

“It’s for everyone at any culinary level and is not limited to couples,” Kangas said. “It just might be the place to find your next mate.”-

A different three-course menu will be offered each class in case people want to take part in more than one date night class.

“This way if you go with a potential partner, you can find out if they can cook,” he said. “My brother should have done that. One of the first meals his wife cooked, he took one bite, scrapped it into the garbage and he’s cooked every meal since.”

Kangas, a self-taught chef who’s been cooking since he was a young child, has plenty of kitchen cred. He spent years as the head chef at Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek before opening up his own small restaurant in Cordillera. Now, this “limelight chef in his twilight years,” as he called himself in an e-mail, wants to give back.

“I never really chose to be a chef, it chose me,” he said. “There are so many people who took me by the hand and showed me stuff. I feel like I need to give that knowledge back.

“I’ve been kind of doing it through the for-credit classes the past 10 or 12 years. I think it’s more important to offer something back to the public in general and share the knowledge I’ve learned.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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