What began as a complimentary cooking class for adult children of residents of The Palace Coral Gables in Florida has evolved into an informal support group, according to the senior living community.

In six weeks, the participants have made new friends while giving the community’s chefs and managers an opportunity to engage with families in a casual situation.

“It’s gone by too fast,” said participant David Lane. “We’ve made friends along with making steak, fish, chicken and desserts.”

Participants in “The Palace Culinary Institute” learned the basics of food preparation as well as cooking techniques from the Palace Group’s Executive Chef Ken Wilbanks, who was assisted by Palace community chefs.

To kick off the series, each participant received a tote bag, apron, gloves, paring knives and instruction books. Graduation consisted of a Master Chef cooking competition pairing students with Palace managers to prepare at least three dishes. Creations were judged by Michael Moran, a longtime former chef instructor at Florida International University; Kevin Kehoe from Sparky’s Roadside Barbecue in Miami; and Palace owners Helen and Jacob Shaham.

The program, created by Wilbanks, will be expanded to other Palace communities in 2019.

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