CLASSES, TAKE-AWAY MEALS A HOT COMBO

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- In an effort to give consumers what they really want, a start-up food-service company here is offering a new combo: cooking classes and home meal replacement.leave the classroom with their meals, which serve two, ready to be frozen and then served when needed.The company, Cuizam! Cook and Carry Cuisine, was named for the contraction of the words cuisine and shazam. It is the idea

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- In an effort to give consumers what they really want, a start-up food-service company here is offering a new combo: cooking classes and home meal replacement.

leave the classroom with their meals, which serve two, ready to be frozen and then served when needed.

The company, Cuizam! Cook and Carry Cuisine, was named for the contraction of the words cuisine and shazam. It is the idea of area entrepreneur Katherine Kehrli, who raised half a million dollars from private investors and hired a former executive chef at a top restaurant to head up a teaching team. Menu selections range from shrimp with lemon-artichoke pesto to kid-friendly, haute cuisine versions of chicken nuggets and spaghetti with meatballs.

Subscribers to Cuizam! pay between $250 and $270 for instruction and the 20 dinners. That works out to about $13 for a night's dinner for two -- less than it costs to eat out -- and participants, too busy to cook every night, get to indulge in some recreational cooking, all in one stretch. Break-even point for the concept is about 140 customers a month, Kehrli estimates. Over its first seven weeks the company has signed up 110 registrants, so she's positive about the future and intends to take the concept to other cities.

Columnist Carol Tice described this new-twist concept in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Seattle.