By Jessica Creagan
VERO BEACH -- McKee Botanical Garden won't just be cultivating green and flowering plants this September, chefs are a part of the plan too.
For the first time, the Vero Beach garden will host culinary classes taught by local chefs at the onsite restaurant, garden administration said.
The Summer Chef Series will be a series of three classes given on Sunday afternoons next month. Classes will be 90 minutes long and will conclude with a sampling of the cuisine featured, a press release said.
Scheduled classes are Sept. 8 at 1 p.m., Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. and Sept. 29 at 3 p.m. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. The cost per class is $35 for McKee Botanical Garden members and $40 for non-members.
"Our Summer Chef Series is a great way for residents to become better acquainted with the culinary talent we have right here in our community," said Christine Hobart, executive director of the garden.
"It's a chance to discover new tastes and techniques while also discovering the garden," she said.
On Sept. 8, the featured chef instructor will be David Rodriguez of Cork and Tapas Restaurant, said Kelly Susino, marketing director for the garden.
The dish of the day will be paella, using fresh seasonal ingredients and it will be served with sangria. Students will receive tips on how to create their own signature drink and will be able to watch the full cooking demonstration and enjoy a tasting at the end of class.
Chef Rodriguez was formerly the executive chef of Oriente at Costa d'Este Beach Resort. He now owns Cork and Tapas on Indian River Boulevard in Vero Beach.
"We wanted to create an opportunity for community to get to know the local chefs, give the chefs an opportunity to engage with the community and strengthen our own partnership with the community during the off-season," Ms. Susino said.
"No matter how beautiful the garden is in the summer, it's hot and hard to get people outdoors, but this series has already been well received," she said.
The garden has hosted culinary classes during the season with Elizabeth Kennedy at the Garden Café, but this is the first time chefs from the community will come in to teach.
For more information, call (772) 794-0601 or visit www.mckeegarden.org.