PLEASANT HILL — Summertime is when the extensive gardens at Shaker Village are brimming with fresh vegetables and fruits. To celebrate the harvest, Shaker Village is offering a few foodie events.
First up are two classes by David F. Larson, vice president of retail operations for Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill and a former chef. Called “Gifts from the Shaker Garden,” Larson’s cooking demonstrations, set for Saturday and July 28, will be informed by the gardens’ offerings as well as the spirit of Shaker dining.
Larson said there were two primary reasons for offering the cooking classes: the gardens are brimming with ready-made ingredients and “I just love doing it,” he noted.
“This is another avenue by which people can approach Shaker Village,” Larson added. “We need to offer a lot of different things for a lot of different people.”
The Shakers documented many aspects of their lives — but not what they ate.
“There are no recipes,” Larson explained. “We truly don’t know what their meals consisted of.
“I feel like they ate a lot of what the northern Shakers ate,” but tailored to the climate of this area. “In the North, they had large gardens. ... They probably tried a lot of different things.”
The classes are not intended to interpret Shaker food but rather recognize the Shaker tradition of locally-grown food. The menu will be garden-inspired.
“Cooking is one of the most pleasurable (parts) of my life,” Larson said. “I want to spur other people on to do cooking at home.”
The classes are geared to all levels of cooking experience. Participants will be able to ask questions during the demonstrations.
Beginning in August, Shaker Village will host “Secret Suppers,” where participants will be able to gather around the village’s “moveable table” for a celebration of fresh food in the fresh air. The meal will be a seed-to-table offering in a secret location somewhere on the grounds of the 3,000-acre Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.
“There are so many beautiful places on this property that people don’t even know about. ... This is an avenue to bring in a whole (different) group of people.”
Like the Garden-Side Suppers of past summers, participants sit at a long table, most often with people they don’t know.
“People are conversing and making new friends,” Larson explained. “And these are not always the most gregarious people.”
Suppers will be moved indoors in the case of inclement weather.
Secret Suppers will be held at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 11 and 25, and Sept. 15 and 29. Cost is $85 per person. For reservations, call (800) 734-5611, ext. 1545.