Taking a cooking class from Toni Tipton Martin is a journey. Yes, you learn how to cook, but you’re also given entree into Martin’s vast knowledge of culinary history. She can teach you how to dice an onion, but more importantly she can explain that onion’s importance to the world in culinary terms.

A little background: Toni Tipton Martin is the founder of the Sande Youth Project. The acronym stands for “Spirit, Attitude, Nutrition, Deeds, and Emotions.” This non-profit program teaches healthy living for young people through cooking and education about the importance of nutrition in daily living. I’m currently taking classes under Martin at the George Washington Carver Museum in East Austin. The program is called A Taste Of African Heritage. Basic cooking skills are taught, as well as the role and importance of common kitchen ingredients like rice and beans.

When I told my mom I was taking a cooking class she responded “well what in the world is there left for you to learn?”

Plenty.

The moment you think you’re done learning you are-done.

I learned plenty in my first class in spite of having cooked professionally since the early 90s. And I can’t wait for week 2; we’re going to tackle greens! While my normal method of making a smoked pig neckbone stock and reducing a pint of cream on the stovetop is tried and true there’s no reason I can’t learn a new, healthy method to go with my repertoire.

Toni Tipton Martin is one of the leading figures in Austin’s food community. As former president of Southern Foodways Alliance board of directors as well as being a founder of Foodways Texas, her bona fides are fully in order.

Check out her blog: The Jemima Code http://www.thejemimacode.com/

and her website http://tonitiptonmartin.com/ttm/Welcome.html

The classes at the Carver are completely full but you can keep up with Martin at the two hot links above. I have no doubt she has plenty more projects planned in Austin.

an excellent interview with Martin is here http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/05/30/the-jemima-code/#.UJl4QJ_6d6c.twitter

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