Learn to cook for all occasions at Seattle Parks community centers

Community center guest cooking instructor Carrie Carrillo holds up a sugar pumpkin.

Whether you’re looking for a recipe for holiday entertaining, to impress a date, to make with the kids, or to warm you up this winter, Seattle Parks and Recreation guest cooking instructor Carrie Carrillo can help.

Carrillo grew up in Kansas City and lived in a variety of places around the world before settling in Seattle. She has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology, an associate’s degree in culinary arts and a master’s degree in food history and culture.

Carrillo started working in restaurants when she was 15 in the front of the house and after culinary school she worked as a cook for four years. She soon became more interested in the intellectual side of food and went to New York University to focus on food history and culture.

Carrillo has been teaching cooking classes at community centers across Seattle for about a year. She teaches everything from bread making to pumpkin pies, pot roasts, holiday cookies and sushi.

“I try to change up the kind of classes I teach a lot,” Carrillo said. “There are staples such as Challah and pita, but then I try to tailor classes to the season and the community center.”

The students who take Carrillo’s classes are as diverse as the recipes. She said she’s taught students from a myriad of professions, backgrounds and countries. She said she’s always fascinated to learn why a person has chosen to take a particular class.

On Monday, Nov. 3, Carrillo was teaching people how to put a twist on the traditional pumpkin pie at Belltown Community Center. Carrillo admitted she was teaching the class because she didn’t like the festive dessert.

“I hate pumpkin pie, which is why I started dabbling to give it twists,” she said. “I needed to find a holiday dessert I would eat and my family wouldn’t shame me for.”

The students learned how to make a pie from scratch, how to substitute ingredients for people with gluten or dairy intolerances and how to change up the recipe by adding nuts, alcohol, spices, and different crusts.

“Can I use Stevia instead of sugar in my pie?” one student asked.

“If I use coconut oil instead of butter, will my dessert smell like coconut?” asked another.

Carrillo’s community center courses are a good place to practice new skills and to work with new ingredients.

“If someone wants a low-stress place to learn, my classes are a great place to start,” Carrillo said. “I love to help people discover that they can cook and that healthy and tasty meals are not only within reach, but are much easier to make than they thought.”

Carrillo has upcoming courses on fall soups, pot roasts, holiday cookies and more. She even teaches a series for cooking with your toddler. You can discover the right class for you in our fall activity brochures.