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Dec 9, 1999 01:48 PM

Beginner's Cooking Class

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A sheltered friend of mine has decided that she wants to learn to cook (and yes, it's really a friend, not a case of "Doc, a friend of mine has this little problem with impotence...").

Can anyone suggest a good beginner's course in Manhattan, or, for that matter, warn of courses to avoid? She's thinking of something along the lines of one or two nights a week for a few months, or perhaps on weekends. The objective is to become a competent home chef, not a professional.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. About 3 years ago I took the beginners course - Tech 1 they called it - at Peter Kump. Five 5-hour sessions over five weeks, covered lots of basics for traditional French food - knife technique, the perfect roast chicken and so on. We had a great deal of hands-on, and good off the cuff commentary from the instructor in addition to the stuff outlined in the syllabus. I thought it quite worth it. The sessions were arranged around a topic - there was a short discussion followed by prep, with everyone doing something if they wanted: very few people just watched. Then, the finale, eating! I was at least familiar with about 50% of the content, but as I had been mostly self taught, decided it was worth it for me to start there rather than proceed into the next level. At the time there were I think 6 levels of this type of course in the non-professional program (creatively named tech 1, tech 2, etc); they also offered a professional training course. In addition there's a lot of one-time courses on specific topics. Simple procrastination is responsible for my not going any further.

    This was offered in the upper east side facility - since then they have relocated to 23rd street, and I don't have first hand knowledge of the new facilities, but rumors at that time were big well lit kitchens, new equipment, etc. I don't have the number but they will send a catalogue if you - uh sorry, your friend - calls. Hope this helps.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Barbara S

      Per their web site, they offer "How to Cook (If You've Never Done It Before): A Class for Absolute Beginners" as well as the "Techniques of Fine Cooking" Series, now up to eight.

      Many thanks.


      1. re: AHR


        I recently attended a party at Peter Kump's and can testify that the physical plant is terrific, much more impressive, if less homey, than the New School's. Still, I think nothing is more important for this kind of class than the quality of the particular teacher, and it would be great if someone here had a particular recommendation.
        I'm going to PK's for the Knife Skills class next week. I will be satisfied if I'm happy with the way I chop an onion after taking the class.

        1. re: Dave Feldman


          Since it's hard to say whether they'll assign a star teacher to Cooking 101, the best we can do absent specific recommendations is judge by the course description.

          Watch those fingers!


          1. re: AHR

            Alan said: "Watch those fingers!"

            That's the reason I'm taking the class!

          2. re: Dave Feldman

            I searched the Chowhound archives and came up with a few more Kump testimonials, but nothing specific as to instructors.

            Web-site searches reveal the following:

            Peter Kump:

            "How to Cook (If You've Never Done It Before): A Class for Absolute Beginners" (Three sessions of unspecified length $250; instructor[s] unspecified.)

            "Techniques of Fine Cooking 1" (Five five-hour sessions $???; instructor[s] unspecified.)

            New School:

            "How to Boil Water: Cooking for Beginners Only" (Five three-hour sessions $465; instructors Robert W. Posch, Michael Krondl, Lyn Stallworth, Lynn Kutner.)

            "Fundamental Culinary Techniques" (Eight three-hour sessions $750; instructors Stephen Schmidt, Miriam Brickman, Katherine Alford, Robert W. Posch.)

            Comments and suggestions are still solicited and welcomed!

            1. re: AHR
              David Feldman

              I took one class from Katherine Alford and liked her *very* much. She's very down-to-earth, not a purist, and very good with beginners. I was there "subbing" for a friend who missed only this class in a six-class series at the New School, and my friend loved her class.

              1. re: David Feldman

                Things just became a bit more complicated. We have general endorsements of Peter Kump's, but a specific recommendation of one instructor at the New School.

                1. re: AHR

                  Actually, Alan, Kathryn Alford is now teaching at Peter Kump. She was listed as one of the instructors in the Culinary Basics class you posted here.

                  1. re: Dave Feldman

                    Are you sure that Ms. Alford is now at Kump? Quoting myself, quoting the New School web site:

                    New School:

                    "How to Boil Water: ...

                    "Fundamental Culinary Techniques" (Eight three-hour sessions $750; instructors Stephen Schmidt, Miriam Brickman, Katherine Alford, Robert W. Posch.)

                    1. re: AHR

                      Looks like I misread my original post. Sorry.

                      If I like the instructor of tonight's class, should I ask him if he can recommend a teacher for your friend?

                      1. re: Dave Feldman

                        You bet, so long as:

                        - It doesn't cost you anything (i.e., significant effort or a favor); and
                        - You won't be embarrassed if she doesn't go through with it.

                        Thanks again,

                        1. re: AHR

                          Aggh, Alan. I forgot. Really sorry.

                          The knife techniques class was quite interesting, and I hope I didn't learn just enough to lop off a finger or two.