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Cooking up classes, takeout dinners in Dedham kitchen

Chef Ed Hoffey with student Dawn Oakes during class.

Stephen Dornbusch for The Boston Globe

Chef Ed Hoffey with student Dawn Oakes during class.

Stephen Dornbusch for The Boston Globe

Emily De Lacoste with a plate of pasta she made.

Heirloom Kitchen in Dedham is a slightly surprising name for a business that’s decidedly modern, both in style and mission. Opened in December in a sleek space that would not look out of place in the South End, Heirloom Kitchen sells upscale-ish takeout food aimed at busy families who want to dine together but don’t have time to cook.

Owner Gerry Coakley, 41, embodies the target demographic. A practicing attorney and father of two, Coakley and his psychologist wife, Rachael, found it “hard to get dinner on the table. It was a challenge every night,” he says.

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Many parents will relate, but not many will do what Coakley did, which was to quit his job and create a business to address the problem. Coakley did a stint as a sous chef before law school, but the cooking is done by chef Ed Hoffey – who has worked at Sel de la Terre, Lucca, and other spots around town – and his staff. Heirloom Kitchen customers can enjoy sophisticated fare, such as quinoa cakes atop winter succotash ($14 for a single portion, $25 for a double, $49 for a family size) or poached salmon and orange emulsion ($19, $34, and $67). For the small fry, there are such items as shepherd’s pie “cupcakes” ($5 each) and creamy Parmesan pasta shells with mini chicken meatballs ($7).

Stephen Dornbusch for The Boston Globe

Students Jenn Yound-Lasker and Dawn Oates, and Heirloom Kitchen owner Gerry Coakley.

But Coakley’s vision goes beyond selling meals. “We want not only to provide good, healthy food but also to be a resource,” he says. He decided customers should see the shop’s kitchen as an extension of their own. To that end, Hoffey has recently started leading monthly cooking classes in Heirloom’s big open kitchen. The cost is $55 per person, which includes hands-on instruction, recipes, and tastes to take home.

On a recent Saturday evening at the inaugural class, the theme was “Cooking for Real Families.” The food is handmade pasta and three sauces. Students – many parents of young children – seemed particularly taken with mixing, rolling, and cutting pasta by hand. “I’ve never done it, but I’ve seen it done on the Food Network,” said Emily de Lacoste. “It’s a good workout,” said Dawn Oates, as she rolled out her batch, “like shoveling snow.” Hoffey demonstrated and doled out tips, such as using a coat hanger as a makeshift pasta drying rack.

Coakley is amused by the idea that the classes might undercut his core business. “We can’t expect anyone to come in seven days a week. Everyone’s got to cook sometime,” he said. “And whatever we can do to make life a little bit easier, we’re happy to provide.”

Heirloom Kitchen, 125 Washington St., Dedham, 781-326-4060, www.heirloomkitchen.com

Jane Dornbusch can be reached at jdornbusch@verizon.net.
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