Presented by Travel Alberta

When you think of heading to the mountains, there’s certainly no shortage of things to do. You could ski, climb, walk, hike, snowshoe, etc. But sometimes you just want to head to a beautiful mountain town and have someone cook for you, and if you learn a little bit about food along the way, well that’s just icing on the proverbial cake.

Next time you’re planning a trip to Canmore, consider checking out some cooking classes. They take place in the beautifully “modern meets rustic” Paint Box Lodge, which is situated right downtown. No, honestly, I swear it’s there. Right across the street from Communitea. During the hundred or so times I’ve been to Canmore, I had never noticed the small hotel right downtown, but I think that’s part of its charm. It’s small (only 5 rooms, sleeps 18), and is owned by former Olympians Sarah Renner and Thomas Grandi.


As the story goes, Miele, the high-end domestic appliance company was a sponsor of Renner when she was an Olympian, and when she decided to open the boutique hotel, the company came along for the journey. So this incredible hotel is now equipped with a simply stunning and state of the art kitchen, which serves up a hearty breakfast, including fresh baked croissants and bread. But then at night, it welcomes aspiring home cooks to learn a thing or two about cooking delicious meals.

IMG_7156Watching the master at work. 

IMG_7152 Boiling borscht  


The idea of a hands-on cooking demonstration where you actually get the food at the end has always seemed appealing to me. One of my biggest pet peeves about cooking shows is always that you never get to eat the food. Sure, it’s fun to watch people teach you some tricks and tips, but all that excitement immediately disappear when you realize that the technology to eat the food that you just watch be made doesn’t exist yet. It might sound silly, but it’s one of the main reasons I don’t watch cooking shows. I love eating so much, my heart simply can’t stand being constantly teased by the Food Network.

And as my local fire department can attest to, I’m no cook. Sure I can make a mean stir fry and can order thai food like no one else, but the idea of making a whole dinner for a group of people scares me more than a double black diamond ski hill. So what I particularly enjoyed about this experience is that you could be as involved as you wanted to be. Me? I didn’t want to be too involved. One, because I didn’t want to be responsible for the dinner of twelve different strangers and two, I had a blast sitting there listening to someone talk so passionately about food, while I sat back in a beautiful kitchen and enjoyed some fantastic wine.


And I was extra lucky because that someone was Elana Levin, the charismatic co-owner of Mountain Mercado, the must-visit specialty food market and café right on Main Street Canmore. She has the kind of personality where you immediately think: “Why doesn’t she have her own TV show and Guy Fieri has fifty of them.” As good as the food and wine were, watching Levin work her magic in the kitchen was definitely the highlight of the night.



The cooking classes at the Paint Box offer quite the variety too. Some of the upcoming cooking classes include: Israeli Kitchen, French and British Gastro Pub Fusion, Ocean Galore, Inspirations from Chinese Grandma’s Kitchen and Backcountry Cooks! And if you’re thinking of planning a night out for your family, a group of friends or even a small staff party, they also offer private classes as well.

From the quaintness of the hotel, to the beauty of the kitchen and the fantastic food, there’s lots to love about the cooking classes at the Paint Box Lodge!

Mike Morrison