Since September, more than a dozen local chefs have been dishing up on Wednesdays and Sundays at Hollander’s new upstairs kitchen store. They include familiar chefs dating back to the old Kitchen Port days–like Marge Biancke (tailgate fare) and Lakshmi Narayanan (Indian food)–and crossovers from Hollander’s book-arts world, like papermaker Karen O’Neal, who has been making gingerbread houses for more than thirty years.

Tom Hollander, who co-owns the Hollander’s emporium with his wife, Cindy, says the kitchen store has been paying for itself. He hopes the holiday season, together with momentum from the cooking classes, will tip it into profitability.

Which is not to say the start wasn’t a little rough. The chef at one of the first classes ran over by half an hour, partly because she was looking for various utensils and moving ingredients around the counter because they were blocking the audience’s view of what she was doing. Now a custom overhead mirror is in place, and the cooks are comfortable enough to crack jokes as they zoom through the preparation of two recipes in an hour, leaving plenty of time for questions, samples, and applause.

Local Italian chef Francesca Giarraffa made Tuscan bean soup and pasta e fagioli in late October. When someone asked if they could substitute more familiar kidney or pinto beans for the cannellini or nutty borlotti beans the recipes called for, Giarraffa graciously responded, “sure, whatever you like.” She paused, then added, “but then it won’t be Tuscan bean soup anymore.”