The region's major culinary school will broaden its menu of public cooking classes this fall - and broaden its geographical reach at the same time.

The Academy of Culinary Arts, a branch of Atlantic Cape Community College, holds its first series of cooking workshops in Hammonton. Teach-ers - and students, because these are designed to be hands-on courses - will cook in the commercial kitchen of the Atlantic County Human Services Building on Bellevue Avenue.

The workshops heat up Sept. 26 with a session on "Seasonal Cooking." The ACA promises cooks the chef/teacher will "show you how to spruce up your menu with the last of your harvest."

The next workshop, on soups, is Oct. 24. The lessons then move on to "Nontradi-tional Side Dishes" on Nov. 14 - just in time for Thanks-giving. The course guide says workshops will show cooks "ways to add excitement to your holiday table without tossing out tradition."

The syllabus also is seasonal in December, when a "Cookie Exchange" workshop offers lessons in "rolled, dropped and iced cookies." The ACA will ask home bakers to bring a favorite recipe to share at that Dec. 12 class - and plans to help share them all easily with an electronic file that will go home to all the students.

All the classes run 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday nights. The cost is $85 per session - the same price the ACA charges at its regular cooking workshops in Mays Landing and Cape May Court House. Students are welcome to take a single class or sign up for all four. Kelly McClay, the ACA's dean, says the classes are limited to 12 students each - to make sure everyone gets a chance to cook in class.

The ACA was asked to try offering classes in Hammonton - which some locals now like to call a "college town," because it hosts a small satellite operation of Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. McClay added the ACA also has been "increasingly involved" in the town, mainly through Ham-monton's Third Thursday promotion. The academy plans to use this series of classes to "evaluate interest, and see if the residents of Hammonton and the surrounding area are interested" in more workshops, the dean said.

The teachers on the ACA's faculty tried to come up with courses that will be useful and practical for home cooks, McClay adds.

Hammonton is a farm-oriented area with homes on big lots, and "the September class is geared around home gardens," the dean said. "There are plenty of gardens around Hammonton, that's for sure, so you'd think that would be something the families there would be interested in."

Contact Martin DeAngelis:


If You Go

Cooking classes held 6 to

9 p.m. Sept. 26, Oct. 24, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12 at the Atlantic County Human Services Building, 310 Bellevue Ave. in Hammonton. Cost is $85 per session. Call 609-343-4829 or visit