La Mesa Cooking Studio With Chef Mary Bass

Fifth-generation Galvestonian and award winning Chef now offering cooking classes

By Kathleen Maca
Placeholder image 

Grab your plate! Chef Mary Bass is serving up cooking classes at her new la Mesa Cooking Studio at 1506 39th Street. Bass, a fifth-generation BOI (born on the island) who once finished runner-up on Food Network’s show Cutthroat Kitchen, has over 20 years of professional culinary experience. 

 The island community has benefitted from Bass’ love of cooking through her catering services, Good Dough kolache bakery, and la Cocina Market grab-and-go meals. Now the chef is offering classes to teach others how to enjoy the art of cooking and baking for themselves. 

 The decision to open her teaching space, named la Mesa Cooking Studio, seemed like a natural next step for Bass. 

 “I have always taught… at culinary school in Alvin, at Sur la Table, local programs, all kinds of places. And there has been a void of this type of opportunity in the area.” 

 Driven by her love of cooking and fondness for passing along that talent to the next generation, her creation la Mesa is designed to be a community kitchen that brings people together around the table. The word “la Mesa” is Spanish for table.

 Though the chef will be teaching all of the classes for the time being, she plans to create a team of chefs with different skill sets to instruct diverse offerings.

 “I know my husband is itching to teach a brisket class,” she smiles, “So, at some point, we're hoping to be able to offer an extended-day brisket barbecue class for the guys.” 

 Bass is especially excited to allow people to learn about techniques that have often been lost through the generations, so they can try them out and hopefully pass them on to their children. 

Placeholder image 

 “We have a gentleman who is a cheesemaker and another who’s going to teach canning and jarring.”

 In addition to a variety of classes that will be offered to the general public, Bass plans to include members of the community who may not ordinarily have access to such opportunities. 

 “We’re going to be working with the farmers’ market to help teach classes for moms that are on WIC [a government supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children] and different programs within the elementary schools. We will work with their ‘grow’ programs and teach the kids how to cook the food they're growing.”

 “I want to foster lifetime learning. You're never too old to learn something new. And so just having people of all age groups come together and cook lets me take a small step backward.”

 In this case, her “step backward” is a positive move, reminiscent of her grandmother’s welcoming spirit. 

 “When I was growing up, she would invite all the first-time visitors to church over to her house for a Sunday meal every week. We could have 30 or 80 people there. And she always cooked with what she had and brought everybody around the table to share a meal.”

 She hopes to replicate that type of experience at la Mesa. 

 “I want two strangers who bought single tickets to sit next to each other and become friends or have family reunions where they all come together, and they cook their grandma's recipes. 

Placeholder image 


Hands-on Class Sessions
The sessions at la Mesa are designed with hands-on participation. Each setting at the two-person workstations will have its own mixer, mixing bowls, knife blocks, ingredients, and cutting board. 

 “The whole nine yards,” Bass announced. “They are responsible for actually preparing what we're doing.” 

 Placeholder imageOnce the instructor demonstrates a technique, attendees will have the opportunity to duplicate it with their own supplies. Bass shares that this is a much more effective way to learn cooking than sitting in a demonstration kitchen where things are only observed. And it’s more fun. 

 There are plenty of tempting classes to choose from including Bodacious Biscuits with all the fixings, Cupcake Cuties, Cheese Board Basics, and more.

 Other options offer instruction on multiple techniques, including Let’s Cluck It Up which teaches three separate chicken dishes, and Hasta la Pasta, Baby which will walk students through the art of making pasta from scratch as well as meatballs, marinara, and Alfredo sauce. Lessons will be offered several days each week, and sometimes multiple times per day. 

 Different class structures provide options to anyone interested in learning the art of “flour power.” Regular classes are listed on her website and can be booked as single or group participants. Private group classes for up to 12 students are also available. 

 Beaming with her ever-present smile, Bass shares that a special variety of kid-friendly classes will be offered during summer months to keep younger chefs happily busy. The activity will be a unique offering for local children as well as tourists looking for activities to amuse their families. 

 For a detailed calendar of available classes and to reserve your space, visit under the “la Mesa” tab. Bon Appetit!