Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Artisan Cooking & Letterpress Training Classes

An artisan is an old Italian word used to describe a manual laborer of a specific craft or trade who produces items by hand through the use of skill and creativity. The creation of these goods through a non-standardized process and by the hands of the worker, makes each product unique. This labor intensive and imperfect process is what gives artisanal products their charm, unlike mass produced items that are all identical.

We often hear the term artisan used in cooking. People who make food and chefs alike have to rely on their skill and training to create unique, tasty items all slightly different than the previous. The process is fun, creative, challenging and rewarding and it's no wonder that so many people like me, with no culinary training or background, have such a strong interest in learning how to make great food.

Years ago, when I decided I loved to cook for all the reasons sighted above, I looked to increase my knowledge by training hands on with an expert. While I had no desire to leave the printing industry, spend thousands of dollars on a professional cooking school and become a chef, I did want to acquire some culinary expertise in select areas. That is when I turned to the Viking Cooking School, a great place for any cooking enthusiast like me who wants to learn the art as a hobby not a career.

To the everyday home cook, it might not ever dawn on them to try a cooking class. I for one never considered the idea until one night five years ago, while I was still in production, I was checking over and reviewing a proof for a Viking catalog that we were about to print and it hit me like a ton of bricks. After that cooking became a passion.

A few years later in 2007, when I was sharing a Viking catalog sample and my experience with a potential prospect, for fun I highlighted a recipe they should also try and it was received very well. Shortly after that I sent out my first Print Chef newsletter and the rest is history. But if it weren't for that cooking school advertisement, I probably never would have created the Print Chef in the first place and simultaneously discovered my love for printing as cooking connected me to printing in a way I never could have imagined.

Recently I was watching the YouTube video featured above for Hatch Show Print and I had a similar revelation to the one I had on cooking classes years ago. Commercial printing by no means should be considered artisan work as very much of it is highly standardized and mass produced. However, watching the process of letterpress printing sparked an interest in me to learn this old craft in the exact same way that the opportunity to take cooking classes did.

Letterpress printing is about as close as you'll come to artisan work in the printing industry. Because of the unique nature in the items a letterpress creates, it is no surprise that there has been a recent surge of new shops all across the world embracing this timeless craft. Just as you don't have to be a chef to enjoy the art of cooking, and unlike other forms of printing, you don't have to work in the industry or be an expert to print on a letterpress. You do however, need to train and take classes and there are many that are offered to the general public.

If reading this post or watching the video has in any way made you want to learn more about letterpress shops that offer classes for the aspiring print enthusiast, check out the resources below. This is a great starting point to find a letterpress class or workshop near you.

Letterpress Links:
The Briar Press list of upcoming letterpress workshops and events
Search the Briar Press yellow pages to find letterpress associations, museums, printers, schools and suppliers wherever you are

Cooking School Links:
The Viking Cooking School
Whole Foods Market Cooking Classes & Culinary Centers
Local Cooking Classes
Central Market Cooking School

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