While the traditional dining experience usually centres around consuming the specialties of restaurant professionals, a new culinary series offered through Capilano University hopes to flip that convention and make chefs and bartenders out of consumers — at least for a day.

Behind the Kitchen Door, the new cooking course available from the North Shore university, was established to guide participants through a day in the life of a restaurant. The program will offer a glimpse at everything from visits to the market to food preparation to understanding intricate wine pairings. Class sizes are limited to 14 people to ensure all participants have the opportunity to get involved in everything being put forward.

“We’ve always been committed to culinary education,” said Lynne Mora, coordinator of continuing education at Capilano University. “But this is our first time in the kitchen. We’re really going hands-on this time.”

The first restaurant participating in the series on April 15 is Wild Rice, a modern Chinese bistro known for its forward-thinking menu. Participants are scheduled to arrive at 10 a.m. and go on a Chinatown shopping trip with head chef Todd Bright. Upon returning to the restaurant, the group will be split in half with each group getting a turn in the kitchen and the front of the house.

Class leader Jason McRobbie sees this course as more than just an opportunity to sample some new food, but a chance to learn a few tricks for cooking in the home.

“It’s really about opening up people’s minds and pantries,” said McRobbie, a former editor at BC Restaurant News.

“If you hang around with a guitarist for a few hours, you don’t necessarily know how to play a guitar any better but the same doesn’t apply to food. You can pick things up pretty quickly.”

For Wild Rice owner Andrew Wong, hosting such an event is a chance to showcase the importance of quality ingredients, something Wild Rice has taken seriously since it opened nine years ago.

“This is a chance to teach people sustainability and the importance of local products,” he said. “This is not a business thing.”

Cost for the day is $95. The class is expected to run from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Further Behind the Kitchen Door courses will be made available through the continuing education department at Capilano University.

Some other culinary courses available in Vancouver

The Kitsilano Community Centre: While a private donation may have helped get the kitchen off the ground, classes in the community kitchen have been focused on giving back ever since. Doug Taylor teaches a number of programs out of the kitchen, ranging from teaching kids how to cook to providing hot meals for the homeless. For further information visit www.vancouver.ca.

The University of British Columbia: UBC’s Continuing Studies department continues to offer year-round cooking classes with chef Eric Arrouze. Classes for spring 2010 will focus on regional French cuisine as well as traditional Spanish fare. Classes run on weekday evenings, and prices start at $475 per session. Go to languages.ubc.ca/culinary arts for more information.

Dirty Apron Cooking School: Chefs from acclaimed restaurants Medina and Chambar offer a wide range of classes from hands-on seminars to demonstration sessions. Specialty vegetarian, meat and dessert classes are just some of the topics offered. Wine courses are also available. Classes start at $135. For more information, visit www.dirtyapron.com.