A cooking school at an appliance store? Yes, because Bekins is more than an appliance store. With stores in Grand Haven and Grand Rapids, this high-end electronics integrator offers high-end entertainment and kitchen gear that must be seen and used to be believed. Helping customers master the art of cooking and get more out of their fancy kitchen appliances through informative cooking classes makes sense. Led by Bekins Corporate Chef Tom Reinhart, the Bekins Cooking School has quickly become West Michigan's premier recreational cooking school. The classes offer practical cooking advice that can be applied in your home kitchen using techniques applicable to any skill level. Chef Tom offers classes in the Grand Haven showroom (735 Washington Ave.), while Sue Chef is the resident chef instructor for the Grand Rapids showroom (6275 28th St. SE). You may recognize Sue from her weekly PBS cooking show, "Get Fresh with Sue Chef," or her cookbook of the same title. Look for classes like the Tender Foodie and Vegan Cuisine for the omnivore.
Two new yoga studios have opened in Grand Rapids to help you cope with your holiday hot messiness. Yoga HEAT (820 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 104) opened downtown, targeting professionals and students. Anyone is welcome at Yoga HEAT, but the studio's mission is in its full name: Yoga Helps Every Athlete Thrive. Located close to the running/bike path along the river, Yoga HEAT offers Power Vinyasa in a room heated from 80 to 85 degrees, as well as a weekly yin class to help keep joints healthy. Owner Elizabeth Sanders was born and raised on the northeast side of Grand Rapids and she has completed nine marathons with the help of yoga. "During practice, it's just you, your mat and your breath," she said. "You can let go of everything else and really feel your body and give yourself a chance to renew."
Vida Yoga (4365 Canal Ave. SW, Grandville) intends to serve yoga fans in Grandville and the Westside of Grand Rapids. A native of Jenison, owner Jen Wittlinger does not subscribe to one particular style of yoga. Her instructors specialize in a range of practices, from Holy Yoga to Power Vinyasa, and they are dedicated encouraging practitioners of all levels. Students include athletes, empty nesters, bodybuilders, spiritual leaders, young moms, retirees and cheerleaders. Vida Yoga's newest class is bodyGROOVE, which is an energetic dance class that lifts the spirit and the heart rate. Unlike most group fitness classes, the movement is interpretive and incorporates the entire room. "BodyGROOVE fits in perfectly with Vida's mission of offering opportunities to be playful and feel good," Jen said.
When not being yogatastic, Poppa Steve is known to chomp on a burger or two. Smashburger (6333 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Suite 450) in Kentwood is the second of a possible seven franchises of this Denver-based fast casual restaurant chain brought to West Michigan by Jim Carmody and Kent Ward of JK&T Wings. They are also responsible for local editions of Buffalo Wild Wings and Newk's Cafe. Back to Smashburger. The curious Miss Carolita and our demure daughters recently visited this "better burger" restaurant. When the chef yells, "Smash Up!" your mouth will start watering. The handcrafted burgers are smashed, seared and seasoned to order using fresh, premium beef. They have numerous gourmet offerings, like a Michigan Olive Burger, along with a list of high-quality toppings. This reporter was impressed by the BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar Burger. Miss Carolita had the All-American, of course. Miss Qiqi inhaled the child-sized burger, while Miss Lulu had an un-garnished grilled chicken sandwich. She doesn't front. Don't forget the handspun Haagen-Dazs shakes, my pets.
Bloop Frozen Yogurt (6333 Kalamazoo Ave. SE) is the latest in a tidal wave of tart and tangy goodness. Bloop offers fresh yogurt in a variety of flavors and numerous toppings (called bloopers). Every time you buy a cup of bloop yogurt, a cup of clean drinking water will be donated to someone who needs it.
Donk's Mexican Joint (820 Michigan St.) recently opened in Grand Rapids' bustling Michigan Street Corridor. Donk's serves fresh, quality Tex-Med food in a convenient and friendly setting. Check out the (Almost) Famous Super Burrito. Owners Scott and Sue Drolema, of Belmont, expect to open several Donk's in West Michigan, while also converting their Taco Boy chain into the new concept.