Faith Brautigam

When you hear the word “expert,” what comes to mind?

Merriam-Webster defines it as “one with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject.” By that definition, experts are all around us and, quite likely, are us. Most of us have mastered something or other; at the very least, we are near-experts on all sorts of things.

The Kokomo-Howard County Public Library has offered several classes recently that featured local experts. It is a hyper-local twist on learning that recreates a sort of town-square vibe. When I interact with local personages as they explain and demonstrate a skill, in person, virtually or even after the fact via a digital medium, the experts’ connections with our own community somehow feels different to me than watching strangers on YouTube. Perhaps it is the knowledge that I might bump into them around town, visit their businesses or find out that I know their neighbors. In a community this size, no one is truly anonymous.

Kokomo chefs and restauranteurs have been among those demonstrating their expertise at KHCPL. In May, Heather Dame of Lucky Lemon Bakery showed our audience how to make a vegan recipe created by Chloe Coscarelli. If you haven’t tried any Lucky Lemon creations, Heather offers vegan and vegetarian goodies that are often available at the Kokomo Farmers Market and the Market Store, as well as at the Lucky Lemon storefront at 830 E. Markland Ave. Check KHCPL’s YouTube channel to view her demo or share it with others.

In June, Faruk Pandit and Lucky Singh of Lucky Indian Cuisine and Grocery showed viewers how to make chicken curry. KHCPL provided the necessary spices to class registrants and, by all reports, library users followed the scent of curry to find out what was occurring.

If you would like to try out the restaurant’s chicken curry or other entrees, drop by 1900 S. Plate St. Next up, on Monday, Stephanie Massouda will be helping us to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday as we make a treacle tart from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. Stephanie owns Petite Patisserie, a French bakery, at 108 N. Main St. in downtown Kokomo. If you need more enticement than the words “French bakery,” one look at the shop’s Instagram photos (@petitepatkokomo) should do the trick.

An entirely different expert, Master Gardener Bob Parks, also known as “Tomato Bob,” filled the pavilion at KHCPL Russiaville with folks interested in learning to plant and grow tomatoes. Mr. Parks became a Master Gardener in 2010. Since then he has spent hours studying and collecting data on tomato productivity. He has become the local go-to source for information on all things tomato, which is why friends jokingly gave him the Tomato Bob moniker. He is even considered an expert on tomatoes by other Master Gardeners, some of whom attended his KHCPL presentation, and has shared tomato-growing wisdom with local clubs and organizations.

You may or may not be looking for chances to learn about cooking, baking or growing tomatoes. Regardless, I hope you are as intrigued as I am about the concept of tapping into expertise that is right here in Howard County. Are there other topics you would like to explore with a local expert? Send your suggestions my way at I will add them to what I think of as our idea parking lot, one of my very favorite library “places.”

Faith Brautigam is the director of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library.

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