Stepping into The Curious Kitchen is like walking into a warm and cozy kitchen in an old farmhouse. There are farmhouse tables and chairs, with springs of fresh herbs growing in the window. A message board lists upcoming cooking events. Cookies and others sweets sit on the counter in a tempting display.
“We serve lunch from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday,” said Rachel Spensatelli, one of the owners of Curious Kitchen, “but our real business is teaching cooking classes.”
The restaurant is located at 1602 West Northfield Boulevard. They offer a wide variety of standard luncheon items — like soups, salads, sandwiches, and wraps — made from many locally sourced foods and with their own unique twist. For example, they make all of their own salad dressings, like Cilantro Jalapeno for the spicy set, or Honey Mustard for those wishing less fiery flavors. Their Mobster Caprese, a witty reference to their Italian ancestry, adds grilled eggplant to the traditional mozzarella, tomato, and pesto.
While they do a brisk lunch service, what has really made a name for the duo of Helena and Rachel Spensatelli, co-owners of the restaurant, is their cooking classes. Their recent Valentine’s Day dinner and Valentine’s Day Treats classes were a sell-out.
“My favorite class to teach,” said Helena, “is German cooking. But we did a dim sum class a few weeks ago, and we have some for families, like our family baking class that will be taking place on March 2.”
While many of their classes draw on their Italian ancestry, they employ a world of flavors in their recipes, from Asia, Mexico, and the Mediterranean.
They try to keep the number of participants between 10 and 16 so everyone can participate. Around a long, curved bar, Helena and Rachel set up prep stations, then each recipe is broken down into the basic parts, and small teams work on different parts of the preparation. For example, one team may chop vegetables, while another is making a marinade, and another is pulling together the dry ingredients. Because the prep bar is open, everyone can see what is happening.
“We try to make sure that everyone gets to see the whole process,” added Rachel, “even if each person doesn’t get to prep the whole meal. Time constraints just keep us from doing that.”
Once the meal is prepared, everyone gets to taste the results of their hard work.
Children are equally important to the Spensatellis. They provide a number of cooking classes and camps for kids.
“My favorite part is working with kids,” said Rachel. “I love teaching them about where their food comes from. So many kids today just don’t know that a carrot is pulled from the ground, or that bread comes from wheat and other grains.”
Rachel feels that it is important for kids to have a better understanding of our relationship with the plants and animals that sustain us.
1602 West Northfield Boulevard
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
Lunch Cost: $1 to $16
Class Cost: $65 to $70 per person
Type of Food: Luncheon, International