116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Kelley Cole has always loved to cook. When she started looking for a way to turn that love into a business, she decided on offering personalized cooking classes, both in-person and online.
“I offer ways to connect with family and friends that, if you are local, can be an in-person dinner party, or if you are across the country and you don’t get to see family and friends or can’t travel to be with them, we create a virtual dinner party,” Cole said.
“I am Italian, and I grew up learning that it was a rite of passage for families to come together and bond over food. ... So, I can offer that instruction and facilitation through the class that brings people together over delicious food.”
“I love to teach people, and this is such a fun way to do it,” she said of launching Gia’s Italian Kitchen a few years ago. “When we cook something together and they love it, it just warms your heart.”
The concept is simple. Cole sets a menu based on the requests of the person hosting the cooking class. She preps and tests the recipes. Then during the class, she leads attendees step by step through the cooking process.
Each class, whether in person or online, is taught real-time, too.
“I don't cook anything ahead of time so that when we star, whether I'm in person or virtually, everything is out on the island, nothing is chopped up, and we start from square one together,” she said, noting that she loves to take questions during the classes.
“I want it to be 100 percent interactive. I want people to stop by me and say ‘Wait, how much basil did you put in there?’ or ‘Can you go over that part again because I didn’t see it?’ That’s different than a lot of other classes you see on TV or online. This isn’t just looking at a recipe on the internet.”
Cole said the pandemic boosted interest in her online classes since people weren’t able to gather in person but were still looking for ways to connect.
“The virtual parties are a lot of fun. No matter what, I love meeting new people and I love hearing their stories and what brought them together,” she said. “Everyone has a story.”
And with the online format, Cole can accommodate people all over the country and groups of all sizes, including corporate team-building sessions.
“I have a group of seven coming up, but then I have one in a few weeks that will be almost 200 people," she said.
Cole offers some short cooking video tips on her website and Facebook page to give people an idea of what a Gia’s Italian Kitchen session will be like.
“My mom does help me sometimes and comes into episodes as my sidekick and that’s super fun because she tells stories while we cook,” she said. “Some of these recipes were my grandmother’s and we’ve just written them down in the past few years. They were all in our heads until now.”
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Owner: Kelley Cole
Address: Cedar Rapids
Websites: https://giasitaliankitchen.biz/ and https://www.facebook.com/giasitaliankitchen/