Shirley Frost, left, cooks. Photo by Tim Vizer, reprinted with permission from the Belleville News-Democrat (not for reuse)
“I can’t say I learned to cook at my mother’s knee,” notes Shirley Frost of her early culinary education.
Her mother worked as an executive at a trucking company, and young Shirley would experiment in the kitchen on her own. Frost expanded her skills by taking a cooking course in Italy while her husband was stationed at a U.S. military base in Germany, and later studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
Now she concentrates on preparing wholesome, balanced meals with local ingredients. “The shorter the distance from the farmer to my kitchen, the better,” she says.
Frost runs Adventures in Cuisine out of her home in O’Fallon, offering hands-on group lessons that focus on preparation and presentation and culminate in a sit-down meal. Her students have included housewives, college students and, this spring, an all-male group of Rotarians, who have since returned for two more classes.
“In the past, cooking was a chore,” says Matt Smallheer, an O’Fallon club member and business owner. “To Shirley, it is an art. The class was a wonderful opportunity to support a local business, learn from a friend, and enjoy camaraderie with my fellow Rotarians.”
Since joining Rotary in 2006, Frost has become known for the edibles she provides for events such as the club’s annual evening at the Looking Glass Playhouse in nearby Lebanon. “Most of my clients are from this area,” she says, “so I need to give back to my community.”