Find your inner chef at Newcastle Produce cooking classes

Summer schedule sure to fill up fast
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal features editor
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Friends and newcomers  will gather several nights each week this summer to learn new methods of cooking, polish up on technique and have a good time making good food.

Newcastle Produce Chef Chelsea Federwitz has hosted cooking classes for three years, filling the schedule with such favorites as tamales, sushi, appetizers and cupcakes. The classes range from classic selections, such as scones, to new trends, such as a recent cake-pops class.

“My family are big foodies, and we’ve had a lot of cultural influence in our family as well,” said Federwitz, of Auburn, who was born and raised in Newcastle.

“I think she does a great job,” said Federwitz’s mom, Mary Vega. “She’s doing a cookbook right now that is just beautiful.”

The cookbook Federwitz is creating is based on all the classes she has taught over the years. A creative twist is that she is hand-writing the book.

Federwitz studied at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa, and is working on her wine certificate. Her “girls night out classes,” which have featured wine and food pairing and salsa and sangria themes, usually sell out well in advance.

“They’re very popular, and it brings people to the store that have never been there before, so I like that” said Janice Thompson, Newcastle Produce owner. “It teaches people how to use the things we have in the store.”

Federwitz worked for Thompson during high school, and Thompson said it was an easy decision to hire her back after she completed culinary school.

“I knew what a hard worker she was from when she worked there before,” she said. “And she has such a passion for food and so much energy that it was just the perfect fit.”

Friends Miranda Hall and Carol Taylor, of Rocklin, agree that the classes are a great way to learn about new products, including vanilla bean paste, which Taylor said she had never even heard of before taking Federwitz’s scone class.

“We love the store,” Hall said. “We just love coming up to the small store, and Chelsea’s just really sweet in the way she teaches. It’s not stressful, and she’s got some great recipes.”

Federwitz said she sees pictures on Facebook of dishes students have made, and said some even text her for advice while they’re cooking on their own.

“That’s my goal, definitely, for them to respond back to me that they did something, which is always really nice,” Federwitz said. “And sharing new things with everybody.” 

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at Follow her on Twitter, @AuburnJournalAE.


Newcastle Produce cooking classes


Classes held at 6:30 p.m. at Newcastle Produce, 9230 Cypress St., Newcastle. RSVP two weeks in advance at (916) 663-2016 For information, email

June 18: Strawberry Preserves, $40

June 21: Sprouts and Micro Greens, $40

June 27: Totally Tomatoes, $30

July 2: All-You-Can-Roll Tamales: Chicken, $40

July 9: Delicious Summer Pies, $40

July 19: Endless Summer Salads, $40

July 26: I Luv Sushi, $50

July 27: Beer and Cheese Tasting Night Out for All, $25 (starts at 7 p.m.)

Aug. 6: Summer in a Jar: Sweet and Savory, $40

Aug. 10: Girls Night Out: Wine and Cupcakes, $25 (starts at 7 p.m.)

Aug. 17: Thai Street Food Dinner, $55 (starts at 7 p.m.; dinner, not demo)




Sassy Sushi

Recipes and tips from Chelsea Federwitz’s sushi class at Newcastle Produce

California roll: Nori, rice, crab, avocado, cucumber

Crunch tuna roll: Nori, rice, tuna, panko, avocado, spicy mayonnaise, scallions

Bond roll: Nori, rice, avocado, salmon, sun-dried tomatoes

Special sauce: 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons ketchup, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Wasabi mayo: ½ cup mayo, 4 tablespoons wasabi powder, water as needed.

Wasabi paste: Wasabi powder and water, just enough to turn into a paste

Spicy mayo: 1 cup mayo, ¼ teaspoon chili paste


Sushi tips

• Keep hands moist. Have a bucket of ice water nearby.

• Nori should always be rough side up.

• When making inside-out rolls, wrap the bamboo mat in plastic wrap.

• Let rolls sit for about 15 minutes before cutting.

• When cutting roll, wet knife each time you slice.

• When using raw fish or seafood, make sure it is sushi-grade.