Amanda Browning opened Amanda’s Farm to Fork solely as a catering business in 2015 and finally got the chance to open a permanent shop in April 2018. While she's happy to serve the Lula community — which she considers family — having a restaurant and simply making food wasn’t always the goal.
“The idea of having the restaurant, that was exciting,” Browning said. “But the idea of being able to teach the classes, that was the big excitement for me.”
Since opening Amanda’s Farm to Fork, she has expanded the classes she teaches at the restaurant, which include everything from how to make homemade biscuits and jam to homemade pasta to meal planning and cookie decorating, from just Saturdays to some weekdays, too.
“When we do our cooking classes, we incorporate so many other things,” Browning said. “We talk about measurements and weight, and of course products and cleanliness. We cover a lot of things in a little bit of time.”
Browning said she used to teach homesteading classes to children during an after-school program years ago. She taught cooking along with things like soap making, cheese making and even beekeeping. With the experience she gained over the years since, Browning decided to bring her knowledge to Lula.
She’s decided to gear many of the classes at her restaurant toward children. Having five of her own has made her somewhat of an expert on the subject
“I think the years of experience have helped me,” Browning said, laughing. “And this is no lie, we have the greatest group of children that come in for these classes. They’re excited, they’re well-behaved. It’s like they can’t wait to learn everything, and when they’re that excited, you can’t help but be excited teaching them.”
She said her classes are an important part of her business because they offer children the chance to learn something new each and every time. She said she teaches things they may not learn otherwise because everyone is so busy nowadays,
“Kids just don’t know how to cook anymore,” Browning said. “There’s no one to teach them. We’re at a generation where the parents didn’t learn. And since the parents didn’t learn, there’s no one to teach the children. So when they come in, they're very excited about it. It’s like a whole new world for them to learn these things.”
During each cooking class, children learn how to make recipes from scratch. Browning takes the time to instruct them and show them how to do each step. Everything the children make, including the recipe, they get to take home.
“It’s kind of like I know a little bit of everything and I just like to share that,” Browning said. “And I love the opportunity to be able to share that.”
Oftentimes, the classes turn into a family affair. While some parents drop their children off for the classes, some parents stay and participate with them.
Jessica Palmer’s daughter, Saraphina, 7, has taken a handful of classes over the past few months. Palmer said she enjoys taking the classes with her daughter and her son, Walid, 8. She said her children think of Browning as family.
“There are some kids, Saraphina being one of them, where things have to be exactly right,” Palmer said. “We’re trying to teach them it doesn’t have to be perfect. Food is like art … it can look however it looks. It’s the taste that matters.”
Palmer said that’s one of the many things Browning is good about emphasizing to the children who take her classes: Taste matters the most. And if they want more practice with a recipe, Browning encourages the children to keep cooking at home.
“She came home one day with a macaroni and cheese recipe, so of course, we had to make macaroni and cheese for a week,” Palmer said.
Saraphina said she enjoyed the dessert class the most. She got to make fudge, peanut butter bars and coconut bars. Although she didn’t like the taste of the coconut bars because they weren’t very sweet, she was quick to say what her favorite part of each class is.
“The eating part and tasting,” Saraphina said.
Browning said she’s had much more of a response to the classes than she ever thought she would. For the biscuit and jam class she had last summer, she said 72 children took part.
“We’ve been very blessed,” Browning said. “We’ve tried different things, tried to figure out what works and what does not work, but our main goal is we wanted to have an opportunity to do something in Lula, because we live in Lula and that's our home.”
Even though she calls Lula home, and many students who take her classes come from the area, Browning said she has students who travel from Atlanta to take her classes, too. She said it’s because there are no similar classes that are in her price range. She said her classes are affordable because she’s simply in it to help and teach children.
“We have a lot (of kids) that … every time we have a class they are there,” Browning said.
Though she said she’s enjoyed all the classes she’s taught, her favorite is coming up soon. On Feb. 2 and again on Feb. 23, she’s having a children’s tea party that will allow the children to make scones, small sandwiches and lemonade tea while dining on fine china. Everyone is encouraged to “dress to impress.”
“We’ll talk about etiquette, the do’s and don'ts and how to eat properly at the table,” Browning said. “For them, it’s almost like a day out. They get excited.”