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Chef Eric's Culinary Classroom - HORRIBLE

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allisonteal May 21, 2007 04:11 PM

My husband and I went to a couples cooking class last Friday night and had the absolute worst food and experience at a cooking class EVER!

To begin with, there was no instruction on the recipes. I understand that we were not going to be each making everything, but how are we supposed to know how to make the other dishes unless they are discussed? I have been to countless other cooking classes at Sur La Table, Epicurean, Culinary Arts of Laguna and Hipcooks, and we were always given a brief “how to” of all the recipes. Otherwise it is no different than if I were to pick up a cookbook and try to make it myself, except of course for the one recipe that we cooked.

In addition, it seemed like from the beginning that the class was very unorganized. Chef Eric was running around trying to tell everyone what to do and in between us cooking we were just standing around. Too much standing around that we could have made another dish, maybe even two. I tried to watch what he was telling other people, but it wasn’t easy with the other students standing in front. Even with all the standing around we were amazed that things were not done on time. The chef said we would eat at 9:30 pm, which is already late, and instead we were eating at 10 pm. There could have been much more accomplished during that waiting period that would have allowed us to eat when scheduled, but it appeared that Chef Eric wanted to do a majority of it, which left minimal cooking to us.

On top of all that the food was horrible! As a chef I was shocked that he felt good about the product he served us. In all the other cooking classes I have taken I have never had a bad meal. I may have loved some things and thought other things were just good, but our food was on par with a cafeteria (my husband’s thoughts). I am not sure if it was the recipes or that the students didn’t follow instructions? I actually thought our lamb was under seasoned, and either the pasta dough recipe was bad, or it should have been rolled out thinner – all I know was that nothing was good. And the dessert we were served wasn’t even ready since we only made it 30 mintues before class ended!! I have never had chocolate mousse that was still warm and soupy. We overheard other people making similar comments about some of the food as well, including the fact that we felt the fish that was served was not fresh since it smelled horrible when it first came out of the fridge.

All this for $200!! We could have gone to an amazing dinner, but instead got this. I warn everyone before taking a class at this school - avoid at all costs.

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    Snoopy RE: allisonteal May 21, 2007 05:52 PM

    Dear Lord this sounds awful. Where is this place?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Snoopy
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      allisonteal RE: Snoopy May 22, 2007 08:13 AM

      here is the website with all the info: http://www.culinaryclassroom.com/

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      WestsideLisa RE: allisonteal May 21, 2007 06:29 PM

      I recently took a cooking basics class there -- four 3-hour classes, but taught by someone other than Chef Eric himself. I've never taken a cooking class before, so I don't have any comparison. That said, my husband and I enjoyed the classes. The first half hour or so of each class was dedicated to going over each recipe in detail, along with demonstration of the different techniques to be used for the recipes. We then broke up into pairs, and each pair was assigned one or two of the recipes; this portion of the class was all hands-on, with the instructor and 1-2 assistants there to help. There was never any down time...you really had to stay focused to get all of the dishes plated on time.

      As for the food quality, we liked some recipes better than others. None of the food was amazing, but since it was a "cooking basics" class, we did not expect to make anything amazing. Overall, we thought it was a lot of fun, and we definitely did learn the basics.

      4 Replies
      1. re: WestsideLisa
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        allisonteal RE: WestsideLisa May 22, 2007 08:17 AM

        Yeah, normally that is how a cooking class goes - they give instructions for each recipe so you know what you are doing before you start cooking, which would make sense instead of just jumping right into it.

        And all the other cooking classes I have been to before the food has been great! I have even had some amazing food before. If you haven't been to Hipcooks before in downtown LA I highly recommend!! I went to the Greek class and had some really GREAT food!! But I haven't been as successful there with all the instructors - make sure you sign up for a class with Monika, who is the owner.

        1. re: allisonteal
          russkar RE: allisonteal May 22, 2007 08:18 AM

          We love Hipcooks also.

          1. re: russkar
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            Bria Silbert RE: russkar May 22, 2007 08:28 AM

            I've also had very pleasant instructional experience at Chef Eric's classes and have taken them more for tips/techniques than to get a great lunch or dinner out of it. He allows you to ask lots of questions all along the way and while I don't know if I would recommend it for a beginning cook, I have learned something each time I have attended.

            1. re: Bria Silbert
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              allisonteal RE: Bria Silbert May 22, 2007 10:19 AM

              He said this was a new format for the couples cooking classes - no instruction and to just jump into the cooking, so I didn't come away with any tips/techniques. Also, he was running around the entire time jumping from group to group so it was very hard to get questions in. And I don't expect an amazing meal, but I expect the food to be good enough to want to make on my own, which it definetly wasn't!!

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        AlabasterDisaster RE: allisonteal May 22, 2007 09:46 AM

        I have done several classes at Chef Eric's and they have all been worthwhile.

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          ameenadin RE: allisonteal Aug 18, 2008 09:28 AM

          Allisonteal - I wish I had seen your review before I wasted my money at Chef Eric's Culinary Classroom! My mom and I were excited to enroll in Chef Eric's Cake Decorating Class. We paid our $100 each, arrived at 9am on a Saturday, and joined the 7 other students in our class. According to Chef Eric's class description, "Each student learns to Write Script and make Leaves, Simple Flowers, Bows and Shells." Nothing could be further from the truth. After a quick demo from Chef Eric we were basically told how to fill our pastry bags with fake frosting and then we were told to practice making flowers, with no attention from him, for 20 minutes. After that we were assigned partners, given a recipe for buttercream frosting, and were told to practice making frosting. It says nothing in Chef's Eric's class description about making frosting and yet, we spent 30 minutes mixing butter and sugar together. I could easily do myself, why would I want to waste time learning this in a decorating class? After we were done with the frosting we stood around for 30 minutes while Chef Eric prepared his classroom for his afternoon class. There was WAY too much downtime in this class. Finally, he showed us how to frost a cake and then told us to frost and decorate our cakes. This was a joke because since we had to work in groups of two we had to share the tiny, very flat cakes that Chef Eric had prepared for us to decorate. Why did we each pay $100 to SHARE a cake?

          Honestly, this was the biggest waste of time and money. Chef Eric is disorganized and inattentive. The afternoon after our class I sent him an e-mail stating how disappointed I was and I requested a partial credit. This was his response - "It is apparent from your email that the two of you are more advanced in the field of cake decorating. If you are looking for a strict decorating class, I suggest you search out a “Wilton” cake decorating class. In that environment, I believe you will do nothing but decorate. In closing, I only issue refunds when I have to cancel a class due to lack of enrollment."

          So there you have it - Chef Eric himself says that if you want to learn to decorate a cake instead of how to use a stand mixer, please find a class by Wilton instead of paying $100 at his Culinary Classroom.

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