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Draper Journal

Harmons Cooking School tempts the taste buds with Valentine and Mardi Gras treats

Feb 06, 2020 12:14PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

Chef Shane Symes looks on as Sous-Chef Brenda White prepares a dish at Harmons Cooking School at Bangerter Crossing. (Photo courtesy Cindy Toronto/Harmons Cooking School)

By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

February brings many opportunities to celebrate food. The snack fest that is Super Bowl Sunday kicks off the month followed by Valentine’s Day with its chocolates and delectable desserts. Then comes the spicy fun of New Orleans cuisine for Mardi Gras. 

Harmons Cooking School at Bangerter Crossing is helping folks to celebrate these holidays to the fullest with themed menus all month long. A special Valentine’s Dinner on the store’s mezzanine complete with musical entertainment is in the works as well.

Cindy Toronto, cooking school coordinator, noted that Harmons Cooking School features seasonal holiday-themed menus all year round. Many classes are designed to help people with their holiday cooking. For example, cookie-baking classes are held before Christmas while “Turkey 101” and pie-baking classes are offered in time for Thanksgiving. 

The first Valentine’s Day themed class will be “Gal-entines with Friends” on February 7. Sous-Chef Brenda White explained, “It’s a ladies night or girls night out but open to everyone. We’ll have a heart-shaped theme and mocktails.” The class will begin with a cheese and chocolate charcuterie board followed by a light meal and a milkshake mocktail shooter topped with frosting and a donut.  

The chocolate theme will continue the following evening with a “Death by Chocolate” class. Participants will learn how to make treats such as gourmet chocolate-covered popcorn and chocolate-dipped “tuxedo” strawberries. Chef Shane Symes will reveal the secrets to making a chocolate snowball using a recipe he mastered during his years as a chef at Deer Valley. The meal will be capped off with cardamom hot chocolate.

Symes, who brings 45 years of professional experience to Harmons Cooking School, said he truly enjoys teaching there. “I like how people want to learn,” he said with a smile. “You can see the joy that it brings them.” 

White echoed the sentiment. “It’s just so rewarding,” White said of her experiences with class participants. “It’s fun to stand back and see their faces.” She recalled a class in which a woman gave her a big hug after White taught her how to bake a cake. 

Symes and White spoke at length about how cooking and sharing a meal can bring people together. Class participants arrive as strangers and leave as friends. “It’s proof that when you sit down at a table with food, it brings people together,” White said. 

Kids can get in on the fun with classes inspired by the Netflix series “Nailed It!” For this month’s class on Feb. 12, the Harmons chefs will choose a mystery Valentine-themed dish for the kids to make. Like the show, the class is about fun and friendly competition and prizes are offered. The “Nailed It!” class is recommended for kids age 10 and up who can safely handle hot stoves and knives.

On Feb. 14, the mezzanine at Harmons Bangerter Crossing will be transformed into an elegant restaurant complete with live music by pianist Bryan Pullman. Guests will leave the cooking to Symes and the cooking school team and enjoy a five-course meal for two. Menu highlights include champagne strawberry soup, spinach salad with blood oranges and pistachios, and steak and lobster with gourmet crab macaroni and cheese. A selection of champagnes and wines will be available.

Guests will have the option to stay at the newly built TownePlace Suites by Marriott located near the store at a special rate with a special romantic gift from Harmons Cooking School. The cost of the Valentine Dinner for two is $195, the cost of the dinner plus the hotel suite is $300. 

Harmons Cooking School at Bangerter Crossing was the first of its kind and has been operating for 12 years. “We need to set the bar,” White said. “We want to be the best and most innovative.” 

Symes and White are constantly coming up with new ideas and finding ways to add personal touches that will make their classes and dinners special. “It’s the little things we add to make it better,” Symes said. 

On Feb. 22, the team will offer their “Mardi Gras Celebration” class with a Cajun menu of crawfish étoufée, blackened catfish with Cajun remoulade, and cheddar grits with shrimp and andouille sausage. Cajun dishes are a favorite with Symes, who learned the cuisine while living in Memphis. Exotic cocktails in Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold and green will be offered as well. Guests are encouraged to dress up and bring their beads. 

Classes at Harmons Cooking School fill up quickly. To learn more information and sign up, visit and select the Bangerter Crossing location. Classes generally begin at 6 p.m. See class listings online for information about age restrictions and special dietary needs.