Meet the couple behind Well Done cooking classes.
by Marene Gustin
Photos by Yvonne Feece
Chefs Celeste Terrell and Kathryn Herod are cooking up fun times, good food, plenty of wine, and in 2015, their wedding in New Orleans.
Right now they have a two-year plan. Part one is to move to a larger kitchen in 2014, since they currently teach their cooking classes out of their Heights-area townhouse. Part two is to get married in New Orleans during the Easter 2015 holiday. Terrell was born in New Orleans.
“We’ve already paid for the venue, so I know Celeste will show up,” kids Herod.
The adorable duo met five-and-a-half years ago and hit it off right away. Herod, a French horn player, had come to see a friend’s band. Terrell was playing guitar in the band. Romance bloomed, and then they opened Well Done Cooking Classes out of their former Montrose apartment five years ago.
“I lived in Boston for a while,” says Terrell. “And I went to this cooking class a chef held in his home. It was great, but it wasn’t a participation event—we just watched him cook. But I thought it would be fun to open a school in my home where the students could get hands-on experience. And one where everyone could drink.”
Terrell started work at seventeen years of age in a fried-seafood and oyster shack in Alabama. After graduating from Auburn University, she moved to Boston and attended the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Cambridge before working at Sel de la Terre, a highly ranked Provincial French restaurant in Boston. Later, she had the opportunity to travel and work for the four-star Park Hotel in Grenoble, France, before returning home and starting Olives and Herbs, a personal chef/cooking education service back in the Boston area in 2005.
In 2006 she moved to Houston to work for Perry’s Restaurants. Two years later, she met Herod. At first they started a tutoring business where Herod, a native Houstonian, taught English and they both taught music. Terrell also taught cooking classes.
Then, one fateful day, they were teaching a cooking class for a civic club. “We got there at 9 a.m. and shortly after they handed us some chocolate martinis. Kathryn said, ‘Screw the kids, we’re only doing cooking classes from now on!’” laughs Terrell. And thus was born Well Done Cooking Classes.
As the business grew, Herod went to culinary school to learn baking and pastry skills before becoming the second chef at Well Done.
“We love living together and owning a business together, but we don’t teach together and we don’t cook together,” Herod says of their life. “If one of us is cooking, the other stays out of the kitchen. That’s how we make it work.”
After moving into their townhouse, they renovated the kitchen, making it larger so they could add more students. The business really took off when the producers of the TLC reality show The Little Couple found them online and called. They filmed a cooking class attended by Houston’s favorite little people that aired in March 2010, and it looked like so much fun (yes, there was wine involved—someone got tipsy, but we’re not saying who) that their phone started to ring off the hook.
Today they’ve added a third chef instructor and offer classes in their home for couples, groups, and companies. They offer everything from basic knife skills to seasonally themed dinner parties and cuisine from around the world. The sushi class is one of their most popular. Some classes, with communal cooking and then dinner, run three to four hours long. “It’s a great way to meet people if you’re new to Houston,” says Herod. “We’ve met people that way,” chimes in Terrell. “Sometimes it’s the only way we get to see our friends, when they come to a class!”
So what’s a perfect night off? “Someone else cooking for us,” says Terrell immediately. “And someone else doing the talking and entertaining us,” adds Herod.
They like to dine out at Uchi and Rivas Restaurant. “We love Rivas,” says Terrell. “It’s so gay, like Christmas threw up in there.”
“We’ve had some great memories there,” says Herod—adding that they’ve also had some great times there they don’t quite remember as well.
They also donate to the ASPCA and are the proud parents of two pound puppies, Maximus and Caesar, German Shepherd mixes that Terrell says make them laugh every day. “Some people show pictures of their kids; we show pictures of our dogs,” explains Herod.
The new site for Well Done Cooking Classes will be in a nearby retail space, close to the Houston Dairymaids cheese shop and the farmers market. It will still have a home kitchen feel and the same BYOB policy, while also allowing them to add a culinary certification program. And plans are to open a second location in the future, perhaps in The Woodlands.
But things didn’t always go so well for the business.
Herod explains that at one of the first classes in the old Montrose apartment, a participant had a little too much to drink during the cooking portion of the evening. “And all through dinner, we could hear her throwing up in the bathroom.”
And there was the time the Houston Chronicle sent a photographer to get some pictures for an article. “One of the staff called in sick,” says Herod. “We were teaching a new class [with a ‘Holiday in Paris’ theme]. I forgot to make the desserts, and we forgot the photographer was coming. Neither of us had a bit of makeup on.”
Oh, and one of the students cut his arm with an oyster shucking knife. Good times. But the gals pulled through, desserts got made, and the photos were taken—most likely with the aid of a little lipstick and a lot of wine.
If all of this sounds like your idea of a good time, check out the classes at Well Done Cooking Classes and sign up for an evening of laughs, great food, and wine. Maybe you’ll be inspired to start throwing fabulous dinner parties at your own home.
Well Done Cooking Classes
1208 29th Street
Marene Gustin also writes the Gift Guide in this issue of OutSmart magazine.