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New cooking class emphasizes fresh, local ingredients

  • Longboat Key
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Entertaining guests is a stressful task when you don’t know where to start.

Tina Anderson’s cooking classes at Driftwood Beach Home and Garden will ease worries about what to make when hosting and give you a newfound appreciation for locally sourced food.

Food made by Tina Anderson
Courtesy image

Anderson teaches in Driftwood owner Heather Rippy’s back garden and uses fresh herbs and flowers from the garden. The class is a demonstration focused on dishes for entertaining guests.

Anderson said she makes the classes accessible to all skill levels. She emphasizes the importance of using fresh ingredients from local vendors, such as the farmers and fish markets of the area.

The first class in March will be about making food based on “Blue Zones.” This concept is based on five cities around the world where most people live to 100 years old. In Anderson’s class, she will be teaching how food is used in these zones and how to apply those lessons to everyday life.

The other two classes will be on Gulf Coast cuisine and brunch-themed charcuterie boards. She uses multiple cookbooks that Rippy sells in the shop to curate menus for the classes.

“I try to focus on helping people not feel intimidated when coming to the class,” said Anderson. “I just want people to be creative. These ladies will watch me put a board together that looks incredible. And they're like, ‘I could never do that.’ I’m like, ‘Yes, you could.’ They just have let go of that fear and try something new. Have a little fun. It's not about duplicating my plate. It's about using those fundamentals to be creative and make your own.” 

Originally from Tampa, Anderson said that she has been experimenting in the kitchen since her childhood. When she was working in the advertising scene in Chicago, she started working in restaurants for extra money. Anderson realized how passionate she was about making food. She then decided to start her own catering business. Anderson trained at the Culinary Institute of America in California.

Although Anderson is Rippy’s neighbor, they were introduced by Rippy’s outgoing daughter, Bliss. 

Tina Anderson and Heather Rippy
Photo by Petra Rivera

Anderson and Rippy connected over similar interests and decided it would be fun to add classes to the shop. They did a test run by making a recipe video for the Longboat Key Garden Club Taste of the Keys during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rippy then started offering Anderson’s classes at her shop in season since it opened in 2021.

“The classes are so fun,” said Rippy. “Tina is really innovative. She does things that people who have been cooking for a long time have never thought to do, so she's super creative with food. Also, the aesthetic of the food is absolutely beautiful.”

Anderson said she never thought she would be teaching cooking classes but has come to really love it. She shared that she loves teaching women how to use food as a form of connecting with their loved ones.

“I just love the ladies that I have met,” said Anderson. “They're just having a great time together, and bonding over food and drink, which is everything to me. All we are doing is tasting and Heather brings out the little bubbles, and then we have just a nice little visit. It is a really nice class.”



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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