The delicious smell of pies baking in the oven fills the air at the Little Cooking School. Tamara Howorth is getting ready for her first ever Christmas Cooking class, as well as busily preparing her "heat and serve'' family meals that are sold in the on-site Commissary.
"I have such a mix of people that love the ready-to-serve meals that they can take home," Ms Howorth said.
"From busy mums, people needing food to entertain visitors arriving in town, retiree couples, shift workers and even tourists to the region needing something delicious for their AirBnb."
Ms Howorth offers rich and hearty meals to take home such as chicken and leek pies, moussakas, lasagnes and beef bourguignon.
"The response to our new venue, the commissary and the heat-and-serve meals has been fantastic," she said
The Byron Place location combines a lunch café, a food store, a licensed supper club, private dining events, Christmas Party events, a fully equipped cooking class kitchen and a welcoming atmosphere that makes you feel at home.
The connection that happens when people share food that they've made themselves is so special.- Tamara Howarth
From its beginnings in 2018, in a homestead on the corner of Henry Lawson Drive and Ulan Rd, the Little Cooking School and Commissary has grown and evolved.
"In the original location, we had class sizes of 10," Ms Howorth said.
"We've been in the Byron Place location since July and we can now accommodate classes of up to 18 people."
The Little Cooking School and Commissary has a packed schedule of cooking classes to see out 2023, including "Greek Feasts," "Gyoza Making," "Pasta Making," "Italian Feasts" as well as hosting Rebecca Sutton's "Mudgee Sourdough" and "Christmas Cordial Making for Kids" Classes.
The motto for the Little Cooking School is "gather, create, indulge" - a place where people can come together to learn a new skill, but also share their creations afterwards, with a 3 course meal and accompanying wine.
"This is where the magic happens," Ms Howorth said with a smile.
"The connection that happens when people share food that they've made themselves is so special."
Ms Howorth aims for the cooking classes to be a sensory and interactive experience, rather than following recipes, and she encourages people to experiment at home.
"People may come into the class feeling stressed and rushed," Ms Howorth said.
"But as soon as their hands get dirty, I see everyone relax and have fun. I want these meals to be easily reconstructed everyday, and I get plenty of enthusiastic repeat attendees who share with me how they do this."
Ms Howorth hopes that everyone in the Mudgee community supports their local businesses and buys locally for their Christmas presents this year.
"I'm offering basket hampers where people can fill them with their choice of commissary food store items, both local and imported,"Ms Howorth said.
"It's a fun way to give an experience or products that can be cooked and shared, rather than just giving 'things'."
Cooking class vouchers and bookings can be made at www.littlecookingschoolmudgee.com.au , lunches, food store products and hampers are available Wednesday to Friday in store.