PANAMA CITY BEACH — A group of Northern snowbirds got a lesson in Southern cooking from two German chefs at a Panama City Beach restaurant Thursday.
Konrad Jochum, head chef at the Boatyard Restaurant, and Hannelore Holland of Somethin’s Cookin’ in Panama City, teamed up to teach a gourmet cooking class as part of Gulf Coast State College’s Winter Enrichment at the Beach.
It was one of 10 beach-themed classes offered this season through a partnership between GCSC and the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, which provided the funding.
The two German natives joked at the irony of teaching Southern cooking to snowbirds as they prepared a meal of shrimp and grits with mushroom gravy, and an apple strudel for dessert.
“These aren’t your ordinary grits,” said Jochum, as he added smoked Gouda cheese and Tasso ham to the mix. “You could do this blindfolded before you know it.”
Jackie Carroll and David Ollis from Wisconsin are visiting the area for their second year and said GCSC’s continuing education classes are one of the reasons they will keep coming back.
“These are recipes that you can actually go home and make,” Carroll said. “It was delightful, and it was surprising that they made gourmet grits.”
GCSC continuing education coordinator Jim Barr said the winter enrichment classes have been wildly successful, with each class filled to the maximum.
With two classes remaining for the season, Barr is already looking forward to next year, and hopes to once again partner with the TDC to provide free courses for snowbirds.
“From the college standpoint, we’d love to do it again,” he said. “It’s really a neat partnership we have with the TDC.”
Despite the predominately Northerners attendance, there were some “Southern snowbirds” in the room.
John and Teri Pizza from Gatlinburg, Tenn. are spending their second winter in Panama City Beach and are already planning on coming back next year.
The Pizzas used to spend the winter in South Florida, but have since turned their backs on Florida’s peninsula.
“Going further south, they don’t have the good restaurants and it costs a fortune to stay down there,” John Pizza said. “This is a good value.”
The Pizzas both enjoy cooking, and attended the class to add some new recipes to their repertoire.
“He does most of the home cooking and I do most of the hearty family cooking,” said Teri Pizza, who just started new seasonal recipe book project. “People have just lost the art of cooking with fresh produce.”
Terri Pizza also attended GCSC’s “drawing seashells” class recently.
“I think it’s great that Gulf Coast (State) College provides these classes,” she said. “I just can’t get over how nice it is that they do this … and they feed you.”