Chef Susanne

SHELDON—Tricia Meendering is a fan of everything chef Susanne Bicknese has whipped up this summer at Crossroads Pavilion, but the next session has the event center general manager salivating with anticipation.

“The description that chef Susanne gave us during the July class was mouthwatering,” Meendering said.

On Tuesday, Aug. 20, Bicknese will be back at the Pavilion for her “Italian Small Plates” class.

That event has already sold out, but people can reserve a spot for the to-be-announced September class. Reservations are $35 a person and it includes one drink ticket.

Bicknese revealed the dishes her students would be learning to make during the Italian Small Plates class.

One dish is her giant meatballs, which she described as “tender,” “moist” and “really, really yummy.”

“It’s kind of a complicated meatball recipe, but it is so delicious,” Bicknese said. “That’s served with what’s called tomato gravy; it’s similar to pasta sauce but with a little bit different ingredients and it’s absolutely scrumptious. It’s so good.”

She noted she utilizes some unique techniques in the preparation of the meatballs that helps them stand out.

Other dishes include white bean salad, calamari, and a tomato, olive and prosciutto bruschetta served on a baguette.

Each month this summer, Bicknese has hosted an evening cooking class this summer the Pavilion. Things kicked off in June with “Sippers and Dippers,” an evening that featured dips, appetizers and summer cocktails.

In July, Bicknese hosted “Summer Entree Salads,” which taught attendees how to make filling salads that Meendering noted could change a person’s views on what they think a salad is.

Meendering said Bicknese’s visits have been a hit.

“Two classes in and she’s got a solid base of interested students,” Meendering said. “I would love to have her more often and maybe that’s something we’ll do in the cooler months when maybe it’s not so busy.”

Meendering said Bicknese is relatable and does a great job of breaking down her recipes and techniques to students, which is why she has been able to grow her following.

“I’m not a chef and I understand it,” Meendering said. “I can go to Hy-Vee, get my groceries and go home and make this. Now, my presentation won’t be as beautiful as hers, but she makes it seem easy and it is. From what people have told me that they’ve tried, these recipes are doable at home.”

The Pavilion partnered up with The Sheldon Mail-Sun and Sheldon Hy-Vee to host these events. Iowa Information founder and publisher Peter W. Wagner came up with the idea and shared it Hy-Vee and the Pavilion.

“I’m very thankful that Peter Wagner had gone to one of her previous classes and recommended that here because it’s going over very well,” Meendering said.

With the small plates on the horizon, Meendering is considering taking that evening off.

“I actually want to buy a ticket this time,” Meendering said. “Instead of working, I’d rather be at the table eating it.”