This Valentine’s Day, bring your cooking skills back to the basics

Local chef, Ashley Nichols, brings cooking “Back 2 Basics” on Feb. 14 with her Couple’s Cooking Class. The date night begins at 6 p.m. at the Back 2 Basics catering kitchen, 2011 Corona Road in the Cherry Hill subdivision.

For Valentine’s Day, the cost per couple is $125 and no cooking experience is needed. Nichols, owner of Back 2 Basics, said too many cooks in the kitchen can actually be a real problem, so she can only accommodate up to four couples.

The night’s menu includes shrimp risotto, veggie relish on Ciabatta bread and fresh berries with ice cream.

Nichols said the idea for Date Nights started with a cooking class she held on Valentine’s Day years ago.

“The very first time I did Date Night was on a Valentine’s Day,” she said. “They got so popular so I continued them.”

For all her Date Night cooking classes, Nichols said she tries to make things a little more special.

“As a couple, you will prepare your entire meal,” she said. “No one else is going to do it for you.”

Couples are entertained throughout the meal not only by the hands-on cooking, but also through activities.

“I ask would-you-rather questions and we play a game where couples are asked a question and they try to guess their significant other’s answer,” Nichols said. “It helps break the ice.”

There’s also a twist to the game Nichols plays with her couples. The person who loses has to cook blindfolded.

The couples finish the night by dining together. Nichols said the way dessert is served depends on the menu.

For anyone over the age of 21, Nichols provides a complimentary glass of wine or bottle of beer. Couples can also bring their own alcohol to drink during the class.

Nichols said teaching couples is interesting because she never knows who is going to show up and if they will get along.

“Sometimes we end up with a college student couple and a couple that’s been married for 30 years, and I always think to myself ‘uh-oh, this isn’t going to end well,” Nichols said.

There haven’t been many conflicts, but Nichols said it is always a worry of hers. 

“The last class we had was one of the best and no one knew each other,” she said. “As long as people are laughing at the end, I feel like the night went well.”

As a mother of two boys, Nichols started Back 2 Basics cooking classes to teach parents how to cook healthy meals for themselves and for their children.

Nichols said her classes are now more traditional. She feels like she’s teaching people to cook for themselves instead of ordering out.

In addition to Date Nights, Nichols offers Meal with Mom, Mini Chef, Try Before You Buy and private group classes.

“My intention was to teach people how to cook, but the classes have turned into an experience,” Nichols said. “What we do is we give people a fun experience.”

Reservations for any of Nichols’ cooking classes can be made online at

Claire Welker

About the Author Claire Welker

I am a senior science and agricultural journalism student and this is my first semester writing for Corner Post. My emphasis is in sales and marketing and I’ll also graduate with a business minor. I am a proud member of Mizzou Fraternity and Sorority Life as well as Agricultural Communicators and Leaders of Tomorrow. I also belong to the Griffiths Leadership Society for Women. My dad once told me that the people in my classes are likely to be the same type of people I will work with when I’m older. After I heard that, I knew CAFNR was the school for me. I am still fascinated with the fact that so many CAFNR students grew up much differently than I did. I love hearing about their experiences and I hope through Corner Post I can share some of their stories.