About

About Betsey

betseyBetsey Gerstein Sterenfeld is the creator and proprietor of Essen, an interactive cooking center, founded in 2006 in Lancaster, PA.

After years of hearing her friends vent their concerns and frustrations about what they were, or rather, were not, serving to fuel up their families, Betsey decided to share with people the tips and tools she learned throughout her life.   Presented on a dynamic platform built around passion, inspiration and global influence, Betsey’s goal is to help others expand their food repertoire and develop solid cooking techniques, increasing their kitchen confidence while saving them time and money.

With almost a decade of creating and teaching hands-on and demonstration cooking experiences throughout the East coast, Betsey is known for her ability to connect with home cooks on their level, teaching students how to get simply prepared, seasonal, delicious, contemporary homemade food on the table regularly. Be they adults, teens, kids, friends, colleagues or families, Betsey teaches people how to cook, and how to cook together, while having fun. Betsey is committed to improving access to fresh food across all communities and has worked closely with Kids in the Kitchen©, Buy Fresh Buy Local©, Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network and Lighten Up Lancaster©. Betsey has been featured regularly on Central Pennsylvania’s FOX-TV live Morning News show, in Susquehanna Style magazine and the Lancaster Intelligencer newspaper.

Born and bred in Chicago, with stints in the San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, New York and the Washington, D.C. area, Betsey, her husband Elliot and their two kids have called Lancaster, PA their home for almost 14 years.


About Essen

With our crazy busy lives, there’s little opportunity to pass along the tradition and skills of cooking. Often, even if the desire exists, the parents may not have learned the fundamentals from their own families. Alternatively, parents may know how to cook and not have the time or inclination to practice daily food preparation.

What’s at risk is losing the arts of negotiation, story-telling and community-building that happen when people gather around the table to eat. Cooking at its best involves using the right and left sides of your brain. It involves all the senses: seeing (Are the scrambled eggs glossy?); hearing (Did the onions sizzle when placed in the pot?); smelling (Are the nuts toasted?); tasting (Does the soup need salt or something acidic?) and touching (When will the meat be cooked?) and the whole is almost always worth more than the sum of its parts. Cooking also gets better, easier and, with routine practice, brings a special something extra to your life.

At Essen we focus on developing solid cooking techniques, easy concepts which will be used throughout the course of your life. We explore the myriad of opportunities to get simply-prepared, homemade food on the table each day. We use fresh, not processed food, with a preference for seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients.

Essen is built on an old-school model of real-time, face-to-face interaction.  You always connect with a real person at our place, on who tries oh-so-very-hard to get back to you on the same day you reach out.  We believe most food tastes better with a touch of cumin, a pinch of cardamom and preserved lemons.  And we’re the first to remind you that water and a good night’s sleep cure most everything.

Let’s get cooking.