Blandine Brutel, owner of The French Kitchen cooking school, has a big plan for expanding her business.

During the past four years, she has taught more than 2,000 clients in very small, hands-on classes in her home kitchen, covering everything from appetizers to soups to fancy cakes. I've taken several of her classes and have always learned new techniques and recipes. She does a fine job of instruction, and it's fun to listen to her distinctive French accent.

There is such demand for her classes that they are booked out months ahead, so it makes perfect sense for her to branch out. She has secured a larger retail space at 4771 N. Academy Blvd., in the strip mall on the southeast corner of Flintridge Drive and Academy, and her intent is to be moved in December.

"By relocating, The French Kitchen will go from an in-home cooking class setting to a 4-in-1 Culinary Center," she explains on her website.

The four components of the center are: a cooking school, a boutique, a cafe and a bakery.

"Not only will you learn to cook and bake, but also eat, shop and party," she says.

The cooking classes will continue to be hands-on, and there will be classes for teens and children, too. Brutel has hired Kristi Tutt, a chef who studied in the culinary arts program at The Art Institute of Colorado in Denver, to direct the kids program and be an assistant chef for the regular classes.

The bakery and cafe will be a place where you can stay after class and visit with fellow students and have coffee. Anyone can drop by for pastry and tea or pick up to-go sandwiches and fresh-baked croissants or order pastries and cakes.

The boutique will be much like the one Brutel has offered in her home, except much larger. It will be stocked with special equipment you might need to make the recipes from some of her classes. She will carry the coffee syrups that have been so popular in her home boutique, as well as other imported French ingredients and tools. Plus, it will be open for shopping anytime instead of by appointment as it is now. Brutel and her staff of chefs will be available for catering.

All this costs money, so Brutel has turned to crowdfunding for some financial help. Her goal is to raise $35,000 by Oct. 16, and each pledge level comes with increasingly tempting perks. To be part of Brutel's crowdfunding effort, visit fund.tfkcc.com/home.

Brutel grew up in Lyon, France, has a degree in teaching and is a perfectionist when it comes to French cuisine. But she is also practical. As the mother of three girls, she knows what it takes to juggle schedules and still get healthy, family-friendly meals on the table. She is super organized, and her classes run like clockwork - and there's always time to relax afterward to enjoy what has been made together. Plus, you always take home food, sometimes enough to make a meal for your family.

To learn more about Brutel's cooking classes and The French Kitchen, visit tfkcc.com.

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