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Basic ingredients

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"They really are a good second to actually cooking the beans yourself," she said.

Moving on from the canned goods, Piper then gives the run down on some essential grains.

She keeps a variety of rice and pastas on hand at the school at all times. Usually there are three different types of rice to choose from: Thai, Arborio and regular rice.

The pasta comes in all different shapes and sizes.

And recently cous cous, the large grains that are about the size of small peas, has become a must-have item in stock.

"We’ve been working a lot with the big Mediterranean cous cous," said Piper. "Not the little grains but a bigger grain which is toasted."

Piper started bringing in famous area chefs to the school to teach locals and visitors a few tricks in the kitchen.

Students are broken up into small groups of about three and four people and are set up with all the implements of the trade, as well as the ingredients for the chef’s chosen meal.

They are then walked through the preparation of the meal.

Piper said most of the chefs cook with olive oil to some degree, even if it’s mixed with a little vegetable oil.

She keeps a lot of really good olive oils on hand for the chefs to use, specifically extra virgin olive oil.

"Extra virgin is good for all the salads as well as being really good for you," she said.

Going hand in hand with the extra virgin olive oil is some great balsamic vinegar.

Piper doesn’t just limit her vinegar to balsamic. She keeps about eight to 10 different choices on hand, fruit flavoured or otherwise.

"We use a local raspberry and cherry one a lot," she said.

Likewise there is always a good mix of mustards to choose from, between five and six.

And topping off the bottle goods section – the wine. There are always bottles of red and white and they’re not for sipping.

Piper also has a balsamic reduction that she said could go on almost everything.

Still, there are things at the Whistler Cooking School that cannot feasibly be duplicated in home cupboards due to space and money. For example they have over 100 different spices on hand.

"We have things that you can’t even think of," said Piper.

But if she had to break it down and recommend a few key herbs and spices for people to cook with she comes back with some old regulars: salt and pepper.

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