For 70 years, Canlis has been a Seattle fine dining icon. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become more of a laboratory for different concepts, whether it’s a burger drive-thru, a drive-in movie theater, or an outdoor crab boil. The restaurant’s latest project, though, may be its most ambitious yet — a culinary, culture, and arts school with a variety of online classes and outside activities.
Canlis Community College debuts this Friday, with multiple concepts in one, as the Seattle Times first reported. Mostly, the restaurant will host a number of online classes through its YouTube channel over six weeks. As one might expect, many will have a food and drinks focus, with some special guests, such as Kamonegi chef Mutsuko Soma making soba, a Filipino food lesson with Musang’s Melissa Miranda, and Canlis beverage director Nelson Daquip teaching Boxed Wine 101.
Each class will give enrollees the option to upgrade to a meal kit, with all the necessary ingredients and mise en place required, whether it’s components for the famed Canlis salad or homemade dumplings from the restaurant’s reservationist Amy Wong. There’s also a pot brownie cooking “elective” with Jody Hall of edibles company Goodship — but no kit for that one, unfortunately (students will have to supply their own weed). Enrollees can also simply request a shopping list to follow along in class.
The price of admission is $25 per person (not including the extras), and will cover about six weeks worth of online learning. Food-wise, besides the add-on kits for classes, Canlis will offer frozen take-home “cafeteria” meals of dry-aged meatloaf, chicken fried chicken, and vegetable lasagna for pickup at the restaurant.
After costs are covered for rent and payroll, the rest of the proceeds from the classes, food, and other offerings will go to FareStart, the local nonprofit that offers restaurant job training to people struggling with poverty and provides emergency meals for local shelters.
“We’re expecting to see a rise in food insecurity through the end of the year, so this couldn’t be better timed,” says FareStart communications director Stephanie Shoo. Since the beginning of the pandemic, FareStart has produced 1.3 million emergency meals throughout the Seattle area.
Online classes from Canlis will cover non-culinary subjects as well: getting home haircuts via stylists from Rudy’s Barbershop, history lessons from experts at the Wing Luke Museum, and even a jazzercise class taught by members of the Pacific Northwest Ballet.
The restaurant’s co-owner Brian Canlis tells Eater Seattle there will also be a free weekly show for younger viewers called “Canlis Kids: Animal Adventure,” created in partnership with the Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium. In fact, he was already filming footage for it on Tuesday: “I was trying to feed a porcupine a carrot.”
Not all of Canlis Community College will be based on remote learning, however. Real-world activities include field trips in small groups of five people or fewer (in keeping with current COVID-19 restrictions), such as a preview tour of the Seattle Kraken’s new home, kite flying at Gasworks Park, and bird watching.
Those who want to get some exercise can sign up for intramural laser tag and pickle ball in the Canlis parking lot. And there will be a scavenger hunt toward the end of the “semester,” with a $5,000 prize, in keeping with the restaurant’s playful, longtime tradition.
And, of course, enrollees should expect plenty of collegiate swag. “I think we spent way too much time on merch, but it was just so fun,” says Brian Canlis. “Varsity jackets, pendants, Filson pencil pouches, MiiR beer pong kits ... ”
Sign-ups for the college go live starting 1 p.m. Saturday.
- Seattle’s Canlis Pivots Again. This Time, to Start ‘Canlis Community College’ [Seattle Times]
- Canlis [Official]
- All coverage of Canlis [ESEA]