Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Sun Valley Culinary Institute Says It’s Time to Get Cooking
Chef Chris Koetke is raring to get started with enthusiast cooking classes at the Sun Valley Culinary Institute, which is located in a historical building on Ketchum’s Main Street.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020


On March 11 a small crowd raised wine glasses to cheer the ribbon cutting at the new Sun Valley Culinary Institute.

But the big red ribbon had hardly fallen to the floor before businesses and events began shutting down to stop the spread of coronavirus through the Wood River Valley. And the Sun Valley Culinary Institute followed suit.

That’s in the rearview mirror now.

Karl Uri, the Culinary Institute’s marketing director, poured wine for those attending the ribbon cutting.

Three months later, the Sun Valley Culinary Institute is reopening—or, rather, finally opening.

Its Marketing Director Karl Uri and Chef Chris Koetke spent Monday unpacking shiny new cooking pots and exotic ingredients for making such dishes as a Green Papaya Thai Salad.

And they will hold the Institute’s first culinary class on Friday, June 12, with additional classes scheduled through June 20.

The first class—"All Things Duck”—will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, June 12, and will include a demonstration and tasting.

Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw, Susan Scovell, Paul Hineman, Harry Griffith, Institute Board President Mindy Meads and Chef Chris Koetke aim their scissors at the big red ribbon on March 11.

Subsequent classes include “Cooking Fish like a Pro,” “Mexican Salads,” “Healthy Entre Salads,” “Asian Fish Recipes,” “Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!” “Basic Knife Skills,” “Kids Pasta Class,” “Asian Salads & Spring Rolls,” “The World of Cheese,” “Celebration of Tofu,” and “Idaho Means LAMB!”

Some will be hands-on classes in the kitchen. Others will be demonstration classes at the bar. Classes range in price from $75 to $100, with registration at

“We have a wide array for every taste from cooking fish and lamb to Mexican salsas,” said Uri. “We’re capping classes at eight so we can sit everyone six feet apart. Participants will have to answer a health questionnaire online before they sign up, we’ll take their temperatures as they arrive and everyone will be required to wear masks.”

Oh, and if you have a dish or cooking technique you’re dying to learn, email

At some point the Sun valley Culinary Institute hopes to allow groups to host events in the space.

The Sun Valley Culinary Institute has been a dream of many in the valley for at least eight years. Among them Harry Griffith, of Sun Valley Economic Development, who crafted a plan with College of Southern Idaho only to see it mothballed by the 2008 Recession.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he told supporters at the ribbon cutting. “Our objective is to transform lives through culinary arts.”

Executive Director Paul Hineman, who first came to Sun Valley for Revelry Exchanges’ invitation-only Food and Beverage Conferences held every year at Sun Valley Resort, said the Institute will be an important part of the community, attracting both food enthusiasts and culinary students.

“And the historical setting is perfect,” added Hineman, who until recently was CFO of First Watch restaurant chain, which employs 6,000 employees in 26 states.

Susan Scovell shows off the new Sun Valley Culinary Institute sous chef jacket.

The culinary school, which had been slated to start in Fall 2020, has been postponed for a year because of uncertainty about what the pandemic will look like in September. When it does start up, the Culinary Institute will be pioneering a model in which students will work in Sun Valley-area restaurants in between hands-on schooling around the stove.

Chef Chris Koetke said he believes the model will become a much copied one by the industry.

“It’s an exciting balance between learning in the kitchen classroom and learning in the industry,” he said. “And it serves the community—the people who live here, as well.”

Ketchum Architect Susan Scovell said that she loves the concept.

“In Canada you can work for an architect for 10 years and get your license without having to go to college. Why not do the same with culinary students?” she said. “I think this is such a good addition for our community.”

Even 5-year-old Matthew Ordal, who attended the ribbon cutting with his grandfather Bob Ordal, is excited about the prospects.

“I like cooking shows on TV where they make things like white chocolate chip cookies,” he said. “So, I can’t wait for cooking class.”


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