scorecardresearch Skip to main content

How’s this for a tasteful gift? A virtual spice class

Claire Cheney of Curio Spice Co., a shop in Cambridge, is offering Zoom spice classes starting in January.

A spice flavor wheel created by Claire Cheney, owner of Curio Spice Co, a shop in Cambridge. She will hold Zoom spice classes beginning in January and participants receive a digital copy of the wheel to provide vocabulary to what they smell and taste.Handout photo from Curio Spice Co.

A spice class might be a welcome holiday gift, even for one who isn’t an avid cook. The orangey, crimson, yellow, and tawny powders provide a sensory experience and can spark a memory, even if you can’t precisely describe its taste. And, of course, they transform a dish. Claire Cheney of Curio Spice Co., a shop in Cambridge, is offering Zoom spice classes starting in January. Each features a recipe, the dish a vehicle to understand how to use particular spices. Cheney first started holding classes in the midst of the pandemic, she says, because there was such a loss of sensory experiences. “The classes were a way for people to reconnect and understand flavor.” She stocks the store with seasonings from Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Greece, and Ethiopia, sourcing from growers she’s traveled to meet and then creating her own blends. She studied perfume making to acquire an astute sense of smell. Cheney will teach one class about salt and pepper, which may sound elementary, but there are so many varieties, and each one can add a distinctive vitality to a dish. Another, collaborating with Wulf’s Fish, presents spices for fish and seafood. The beginning of the month features guest instructor Tamika R. Francis who will introduce you to Caribbean spices and the Trinidadian-style rice dish pelau. Cheney developed a color-coded spice flavor wheel, akin to wheels for wine and coffee, which provides you with a vocabulary to convey what you smell and taste, and participants receive a digital copy. Each 75-minute class, from 5 to 6:15 p.m., is $40. For the schedule, go to



Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at