Get cookin’ with the real thing

Danny Cozzi

DeKALB | Jo Cessna , a Sycamore culinary master and NIU alumna, has an idea – a simple idea that cooking with natural foods, and taking the time to cook them, will change lives.

“My mission is to empower the everyday person of all ages and experiences to nourish their mind, body and spirit with natural foods by providing education through group classes and one on one mentoring,” Cessna’s website reads.

Cessna hosts both group and private cooking lessons in her home in Sycamore. She hopes that with the power of replacing sugar, salt, and other outside sources, with real, natural ingredients, people will realize what they’ve been missing.

Cessna said her mission is getting people to eat real food again, and how exactly to get to that point. She focuses on utilizing grains, fruits, vegetables and spices in her classes.

Cessna has had 25 years of culinary teaching experience, coupled with 17 years of private catering experience. She also has a long list of culinary credentials listed on her website, thenaturalcook.net. Cessna graduated from NIU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and attended Graduate School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, Colorado.

It’s no secret that Cessna has been enthusiastic about the art of cooking for her entire life.

“I grew up on a farm and we cooked from our garden,” Cessna said.

Cessna mentioned that due to her upbringing, she has always possessed a sincere passion for cooking.

Cessna spoke about her natural attraction to cooking since childhood staying close to her heart throughout the years. To her, cooking is a gift she took full advantage of.

Coupled with experience, Cessna also has a wide variety of topics on which she educates. On her website, courses such as “Good to the Bone,” “Crazy for Cruciferous,” and “Occasionally Vegan,” offer session dates and summaries of what is taught within those particular classes.

With the help of her instruction, many people’s lives have evidently changed for the better. Cessna recalls receiving phone calls from countless grateful students who have significantly improved their eating habits and overall lives with credit to Cessna’s teaching.

“I’ve had people call me saying ‘You’ve changed my life,'” Cessna said.

Cessna also noted on how the idea of cooking is a decreasingly popular practice in society. She criticizes the typicality of having plenty of time to answer phone calls and respond to emails, but not allotting enough time to prepare a nutritious, and delicious, meal.

Cessna then proclaimed the obviousness of eating healthfully. She raved about the renewed energy and overall good health that result from eating nutritious food.

Cessna’s website also offers a variety of healthy recipes for delectable foods. The list ranges from “Ginger Bars” to “Zucchini Slaw” to “Hot and Sour Swiss Chard” and more.

Classes range from $60 to $180 per session. Dates for classes can be found on her website.