As you may have heard, we’re rolling out a new series of cooking classes! Read all about it here. This is a collaboration with Heather Schmidt, founder of Homemade Modern Co. (formerly City Chicks), located at Kitchen Inc. in Union Square. Heather is quite a culinary character so we thought we’d ask her a few questions about how and why she’s stirring things up in the square.

Nibble: What is your background?
Heather: I was trained at Johnson & Wales Culinary School, Providence, RI in the early 90’s. I worked in restaurants as a pastry chef, at Rialto and then Radius in Boston.  Working in restaurants is invaluable and that’s were your learn everything. Most recently I was the pastry chef at Clear Flour Bakery in Brookline, doing all the breakfast pastries, tarts, …I also got a degree as a voice major at Berklee College of Music.

Nibble: How did you come up with the idea of classes?
Heather: It started with me opening my own bakery. I started looking at property and numbers, and it was a terrible endeavor financially. It was not for me. On the other hand, I have been a guest teacher at the Hospitality School at B.U. and loved training people, explaining how things work. I didn’t want to be defined only by baking.

Also, I realize that a lot of the knowledge and skills that our grandmothers had, is getting lost. I want to help people reclaim the power of being independent and get skills that we can work into our modern lives, as we don’t have as much time. I really want classes to be accessible; celebrity chefs can be intimidating. These classes are fun, social, laid-back and welcoming.

Nibble: How do you pick your classes?
Heather: I have a gazillion ideas, I have a spreadsheet of what’s appropriate according to the seasons. Some people approach me but I also have this network of amazing people I can ask to teach, who are experts in their fields. I am there to break down walls and barriers, ask the silly question and make everyone feel at ease.

Nibble: Why do you think culinary education matters?
Heather: People are now detached from where the food comes from, how it is made. Two things are really wrong about this. First, it’s not healthy. I want to know how it was produced. “Know where you are from, know your food”, it’s pretty true. Learning how to cook is also more economical. When you have a whole chicken and you want to cut it down, you get a meal for a few days. From just one bird!  Second, when you cook a meal at home, you bring your family together. When you go to your baker, to the local market, it brings the community together.

Below, Heather and chef Ken Cmar at a recent Hungarian cooking class at Kitchen Inc.