Cooking and Community


Recently, I was lucky enough to partake in a cooking class at a local shop within West Palm Beach. I was truly excited to finally be going to this store because Shoppe 561 is a pretty impressive establishment. Everything that is sold within Shoppe 561 is created by Florida artisans, many of them being within the local area. Proceeds from items purchased help support Hope House Florida which is a safe house for minor girls rescued from human trafficking. They desire to spread the thoughts of hope to the community and I admire any efforts such as this. Personally, I find bringing a sense of community to be of high importance, especially with everything that has been happening in our world today. Small steps of coming together can start to develop larger movements of positivism. Whether its giving back to the community itself or helping others, you can’t help but want to be apart of such a positive environment.

The store has recently been having cooking classes and my friend Lucy has been asking me to go. We all decided to make a couples night out and enjoy a night learning some Asian inspired snacks. These classes have been taught by Chef Clayton Charles Carnes. We have a lot of impressive chefs within the Palm Beach area, but none have impressed me as much as Chef Clay has. I didn’t even realize how predominate he was in the area winning many awards, showcasing at local Food and Wine events, but he is also now known through TV, after competing in Cutthroat Kitchen on The Food Network! He recently won his third victory on this show, but has appeared on there four times! There is so much tore than impressed me about this fine Chef but I will save that for a little later in this post.

Chef Clay conducted the actual cooking for us in the class, but we were able to take notes and observe as he performed his craft. On our menu that evening were a few Asian inspired snacks:

  • Crispy vegetable and teriyaki chicken lettuce wraps
  • Sesame – ginger shrimp skewers
  • Green papaya and peanut salad with fresh chili
  • Yummy pool side tropical white sangria
  • Sparkling passion fruit fizz

img_7292It was lovely because after a long day, having a nice sangria ready and made was an added perk! Chef Clay was so fun to listen to and he made everything seem so easy, but trust me when I say that was the point of the classes;Β  to show you that it can be easy! Everything was so fresh and insanely delicious. He showed us little tips to keep you vegetables fresh and crisp, and what was big for me was the less is more aspect. You don’t need to drag out every utensil, mixing bowl, so on and so forth to do your cooking. He didn’t use many items to create these amazing snacks, and I for one like the idea of not having a messy kitchen to clean up after having guests over. I am always loving to entertain and being able to have these new recipes to try excited me to no end.



Crispy vegetable and teriyaki chicken lettuce wraps


sesame-ginger shrimp skewers

Besides being insanely fresh, you can’t help but become sucked in by the vibrate colors and succulent scents ( I apologize they don’t have a scent aspect to a blog). He even told us that he was able to get those shrimp skewers for $1 a piece! Sometimes you just never know what you are able to get at your local store for a fresh cooked meal. The class was light hearted, easy going and extremely entertaining. I am slightly disappointed that I didn’t attend the other classes that have been done thus far. I am going to have to sneak into Lucy’s notes to grab the other ones.

Chef Clay will be opening a new restaurant this summer in West Palm Beach called Cholo Soy Cocina. Listening to him talk about his new restaurant continually built up my admiration for him. Cholo Soy Cocina will be a street taco joint. It won’t be a large place, which I have to agree less can be SO much more. He explained that his prices will be affordable because he hopes that anyone that sets foot in his restaurant, no matter their financial situation should be able to have a good meal. I was almost in admiration shock when he said this. You don’t hear many statements made that way these days, especially when it comes to businesses. Lately, there have been many restaurants coming into West Palm Beach and so many of them I feel are pretty expensive. We may be near Palm Beach Island, but that doesn’t mean that all of us live the Palm Beach lifestyle financially. Being able to have a good night out as a family, friends night and/or a date night should be within anyone’s reach. He also admitted to the class that he has been building the restaurant himself. The building has all new plumbing, electricity, you name it. I just can’t help but find it insanely impressive.

All I kept thinking was that there needs to be more people in the world like this man. Someone to bring about such a sense of community and businesses such as Shoppe 561 to help with the process. There has been so much negativity lately that it has become sometimes to much to handle. It was refreshing to listen to positive thoughts and hope for even a glimpse of some change. I went for a cooking class but came out with so much more perspective. I know that I for one will be going to the restaurant as soon as it opens and be spending some more time at Shoppe 561!



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