UPPER EAST SIDE — This brings new meaning to the term "family meal."
An Upper East Side couple hoping to adopt has come up with a unique way to raise the necessary funds — teaching men how to cook for the women in their lives.
Mat Rosa and Jen Ramos started Pot Pan Knife, a series of themed cooking workshops, in March to help raise money to adopt their first child. The couple, who has been together for 16 years and married for four, has long wanted to start a family, but found that they were unable to have children.
They started looking into adoption about three years ago and learned domestic adoptions can cost upwards of $40,000 due to birth parent counseling, the adoptive parent home study, agency fees and other factors.
“We felt very helpless at first,” Ramos, 40, said of when they first learned of the adoption costs. “It was so much money. We didn’t know if we’d ever be able to raise that.”
The couple decided to get creative to make their dream of having a family come true. Ramos, who runs her own business selling art prints, started painting and saving the proceeds from her art sales for the adoption. Eventually, they also found a way for Rosa to use his passion to further their effort.
“Mat is a great cook and he loves teaching others, so it just made sense to use this as a means for raising the money,” Ramos said.
Rosa, 46, now a software architect, first learned to cook from his pastry chef mother. He followed that up with formal culinary training at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
He said that cooking has long been an important part of his relationship with his wife.
“I’ve always used food as a way to express my love for her,” Rosa said. “Jen thought that was a good platform — to teach men not just cooking skills, but the thoughtful aspects, like presentation, that really make a meal special.”
Pot Pan Knife started offering classes in early March. The couple’s friend owns 333 Park Ave., a loft that he rents out for events, and donated the space to help their efforts.
Rosa teaches one class per week in the Gramercy loft. Each one is based around a themed menu such as dessert, hors d’oeuvres and brunch. Rosa and Ramos plan the menus together and try to mix easy recipes with more complex ones. For example, in the brunch class, students learn to make the perfect scrambled eggs before tackling the more challenging eggs Benedict.
The couple quickly realized that men weren’t the only ones interested in the concept. They were getting a lot of requests from couples and women, and have expanded their offerings to reflect that.
In one of their most popular classes, “Role Reversal,” couples work together to make pot stickers, an Asian-style dumpling. But there is a catch: the member of the couple with less cooking know-how has to take the lead while the more experienced cook serves as sous chef.
Each class is limited to eight students. Afterwards, participants are invited to sit down to a BYOB meal to share the fruits of their labor.
Classes cost $60 for an individual or $95 for a couple. Pot Pan Knife is also currently offering a special $75 deal on the Role Reversal class through How About We, the online date-planning service for couples.
Ramos and Rosa have already saved a significant amount of money toward the adoption. They are hoping to raise $15,000 through their combined creative endeavors to cover the last portion.
“I know that we probably have a long journey ahead of us and that it could be difficult,” Rosa said. “But at this point, we’re both really built up and we’re ready to have a family.”