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Vegan holiday cooking class to instill community, health, fun

Thought Design Learning Studio adds variety to the typical Thanksgiving or Christmas dishes with their new culinary course on November 23.

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10 East Bridge Street NE

Rockford, MI 49341



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Previous cooking class at Thought Design

Previous cooking class at Thought Design

Thought Design Kitchen area

Thought Design Kitchen area

"Every experience ends with a dinner party" -Greg Mutch

"Every experience ends with a dinner party" -Greg Mutch

Thought Design Learning Studio is ringing in the holidays with their first ever vegan cooking class. Grand Rapids chef, Jason McClearen, will instruct a Vegan Holiday cooking class on Saturday, November 23rd. With the use of four new vegan dishes and their open design kitchen, they hope to continue instilling community and learning—a common goal in each of their classes.

“One of the things we want to do is get people around the tables that maybe don’t know each other [so] every experience ends with a dinner party, “ says Greg Mutch, co-owner of Thought Design Learning studios. “We have 20 people over there cooking, having fun, getting messy and creating these wonderful dishes. Then they sit around these tables together and have a nice meal with a glass of wine or pint of beer.”

With a menu of different holiday vegan dishes including side dishes, main meal, and dessert, they hope to alter people’s views on vegan eating. Along with the menu being vegan friendly, it includes items from a list of 50 foods that Thought Design considers to be the best brain foods, a value they incorporate into all of their classes. This new vegan theme, which they hope to repeat in the future, allows them to really camp out in that list.

“Veganism or gluten-free doesn’t have to be complicated or hard, but people are scared of it,” says Denise VanEck, co-owner of Thought Design Learning Studios. “We’re trying to de-mystify some of that for people.”

Chef Jason McClearen says that he would like vegan skeptics to show up for the class. He hopes to change people’s views the way his once were. At one point vegan food scared him to bits, says McClearen, but he become a vegan supporter after classes and an internship with Chef Kevin Dunn at GRCC. Now McClearen uses his catering, teaching, and personal chefing to show people the health benefits that veganism can create.

“It can be vegan, it can be healthy and it can be really good,” says McClearen.

Thought Design Learning Studio provides the food, the instruction and an inviting atmosphere. Honing in on the studio’s core beliefs, the kitchen was built in a way that would appeal to the brain and encourage socialization: elements that VanEck says create a better learning experience. The large moveable counters encourage their students to interact and branch out while the large windows provide mind-pleasing views of nature and warm natural light.

“Hopefully they feel like they’re in a home kitchen,” says Mutch.

Thought Design offers other classes and services that encourage learning and thought, just as the culinary classes do. They instruct yoga classes, lead business meetings to achieve individual goals, teach cooking courses, and offer coaching in topics that include mental thought; anywhere from working through difficult relationships, decision making or overcoming negative habits.

“We want people to learn, to grow [and] to have healthier brains,” says Vaneck. “A lot of that is just taking a peak at that thought bubble above your head and tweaking it a little bit.”

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