Interactive Cooking Restaurants
Does anyone know of any interactive cooking restaurants in the Chicago area?
There are a few Asian themed ones that come to mind: Stir Crazy, Mongolian BBQ, and Flattop Cafe are all "Salad bar" style eateries- you select your veggies, sauces and meats, and a cook with a flattop range assembles the meal for you.
There are also tepenaki restaurants like Ron Of Japan and the ubiquitous Benihana. I know there are a few restauants that offer shabu shabu, but I haven't visited any.
Up here on the north sie, there is a korean BBQ where they bring kimchi and other fixin's to the table, along with your marinated raw meats and you grill it yourself over a charcoal brazier brought to the table.
I can't think of any non-Pacific rim style restarants that have a truely interactive cooking process.
Perhaps I should better define what I mean by "an interactive restaurant." I am looking for some place like McMennamin's in New Rochelle, NY or La Maison in Dunedin, FL. These are restaurants where a limited number of guests (12-20) come, there is a chef that teaches the group how to prepare the meal, and then small groups are assigned to preparing various parts of the meal under the chef's supervision. At the end of the preparation time, all the guests sit down and enjoy the whole meal together. The guests go home with a recipe booklet of everything prepared at the meal.
There was a restaurant that worked somewhat like this on the the near northside named Foreplay, but I can't seem to locate it, or know if it is still in existence.
Try out The Chopping Block. http://www.thechoppingblock.net/
Two locations in Chicago - I have been to the Merchandise Mart location twice and thought the classes were very well run. It's not a restaurant, but a cooking school. They offer a whole variety of classes and, for a group of 12-20 would let you choose the topic/cuisine for a private class. I did one whole day on-hands class on Parisanne Bistro cuisine and we made about a dozen dishes over 5 hours. At the end you take the recipies home just as you say. They also have shorter classes if you don't want to take a whole day.
I agree with Wak. The chopping block is definitely the place for you. They offer interactive classes where you prepare a meal under their chef's instructions. Afterwards you sit down and enjoy it with the others in the class. It is fun and informative. Their classes range from a 1 hour knife skills class to a heavily involved series of classes teaching all the basics of cooking.
Sur La Table has cooking classes where the participants make the meal and then get to eat it. They are fun, but pricey. I think they are usually around $60-70 per person.
Corner Cooks has all kinds of classes and interactive evenings: girls night out, couples etc. The food is very good and it's a fun experience. Even my non-foodie husband enjoyed it (there IS hope...) and Betsy is a doll.
507 Chestnut Street
Winnetka, Illinois 60093
847 4410134 (p)
At the web site, look under cooking classes to find what you want. I think the couples cook night is $65 per person plus wine so it can end up being pricey if the group drinks a lot. We helped prepare the apps, entree and dessert. The chef finished the entree and served us after we sat down. It was a cross between a cooking class and a restaurant. Just what you seem to be looking for in your request. Try it...you'll like it!
By the way...I have no professional connection with Corner Cooks. We went there with friends and had a very nice evening. That's it. I hope that you'll enjoy it too.
There is actually a new place in town to do exactly what you are looking for. It is called Chicago Chefs Table and is in the Beldon Stratford Hotel in Lincoln Park. They do cooking classes followed by dinner as well as the " Chefs Table experince" in a beautiful kitchen. They have a web site too, it's kind of new but has contact information. Hope this helps!
Heaven on Seven used to do a cooking class once a month in their Wabash location but I have not been to a Ho7 in a while to see if this still happens.