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Suggestions on cooking classes?

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  • heWho Jul 25, 2007 08:40 AM
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Can any of the Chowhounds recommend a good mid-level cooking class in the Boston Metro Area? Preferably something that isn't over-the-top expensive, is well taught, and geared to cooks who are comfortable in the kitchen but looking to explore new facets of cooking.

Any and all recommendations are welcome, thanks!

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  1. I had a great experience at the Cambridge Culinary Institute in their Spanish cooking class. I have been meaning to go back there, but scheudles haven't lined up yet. I appreciated the variety of dishes, the instriuction on new techniques, and the affordability.

    12 Replies
    1. re: litchick

      I second CCI.

      Don't even consider Boston or Cambridge Adult Ed. Very poor instructors, crappy kitchens, beginner students.

      1. re: C. Hamster

        I agree, I've taken a few at the CCAE and BCAE and would not recommend them at all. They basically hand you a recipe and tell you to cook.

        1. re: C. Hamster

          Having taught cooking classes at BCAE I can indeed attest to the poor quality of the kitchens. Made life as an instructor very difficult. I schlepped an awful lot of my own equipment each week. Also, we were so poorly paid, the proposition was break-even. Perhaps that is why the instructors are very poor. CCI on the other hand has fantastic course offerings, and the instructors are well-trained and engaging as are your fellow classmates.

          1. re: Small Plates

            I'm sorry to hear that BCAE has gone so far downhill. When I taught cooking there (every Tuesday night for 10 years!) we went from one kitchen to 2, and then redid the "old" kitchen, and it was beautiful. I left the area 13 years ago, tho.

        2. re: litchick

          litchick,

          I was curious which Spanish cooking class you took: straight-up Spanish, or the tapas class?

          My wife and I attended the former (one of the "cooking couples" classes, awwwww), and loved it; if nothing else, it has been a pleasure to count a pretty satisfactory tortilla espanola as part of our culinary portfolio.

          Although I didn't personally attend, my wife waxes poetic about the Moroccan class she took at CCI. Having sampled some of the leftovers after the class, I can definitely say that the end product was fantastic.

          1. re: finlero

            It was actually the couples Spanish class I took as well. We loved it. Fish in a salt crust, tortilla... all good, and all stuff I've made again at home.

            1. re: litchick

              hey, thanks for the info! I just signed up for a couples cooking class in september. what a fun idea!

            2. re: finlero

              Since you took the couples class (awww) :-) do you think they could translate well into a non-couples/general class?

              Personally, as someone that has no fear about eating at a restaurant solo, attending a cooking class solo is quite scary for me and I'd love to hear about your thoughts on it in general.

              Thanks

              1. re: sailormouth

                Only having the one empirical data point, this won't be a comprehensive answer, but at our particular class, the couples element was largely inconsequential. I was actually intrigued by just how businesslike everyone was in the kitchen; these people worked well as couples in a very literal sense (I hope my wife and I were no exception). If anything, as the less culinarily adroit member of our couple, I was a little intimidated at first by how comfortable everyone else seemed in the kitchen. There was definitely no doe-eyed feeding of one another, curling up by the warm convection ovens, or even a sensuous knife fight.

                Having said that, the class fee is for two people, so even though the cooking couples thing is, more than anything else, a clever (and effective) marketing gimmick, you might want to bring a buddy.

                According to my wife, the non-couples class format is more or less identical to the couples format which, as I remember it, was:

                1) Brief discussion and recipe overview in the front classroom. Assign specific recipes to specific couples (or small groups in the non-couples classes).

                2) Head into the kitchen and start cooking. Instructor patrols room, offering help as needed/requested, making a specific point of assisting at key technical moments (such as gilling a whole fish, caking it in salt, and breaking away the salt crust after it is fully cooked).

                3) Various snacks are prepared throughout (garlicky olive oil for the CCI-made French bread), wine is consumed in little plastic cups.

                4) Magic elves (or perhaps CCI staff) appear throughout the class to wash dishes for you (this was a surprise for me, but not an unwelcome one).

                5) Plate everything, bring it back into the classroom to enjoy. Discuss what worked, what didn't, pack up leftovers (bring tupperware!!!), roll home.

                1. re: finlero

                  I would say that is consistent with my experience as well. The prof. did a good job of walking us thru the coming tasks, answering questions, and debreifing us afterwards. The food itself was very good, and I picked up a few new techniques and recipies I've used since.

            3. re: litchick

              I've also had good experiences at CCI. In particular, their pastry classes are excellent, taught by the head of the pastry certificate program (or at least they were a year or so ago).

              1. re: litchick

                I'm thinking about taking the "Back to Basics" Course at CCI - I'm concerned about parking because the classes are on weekdays during the day...red line T is not an option for me. Looking at their website it looks like there's limited street parking with meters, I'm concerned about making a big commitment for 6 classes and then not being able to find parking. Any ideas?

              2. Try calling the Elephant Walk restaurant. My husband has taken 3 cooking classes with the owner and each time he goes he comes home with some great recipes. It's a casual atmosphere and not too expensive.

                1. Barbara Lynch has opened a cookbook library and demo kitchen in the South End where one can pick up gourmet cookbooks and gourmet techniques in one fell swoop (102 Waltham St.; for information on classes, call 617-423-STIR or visit www.stirboston.com).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Small Plates

                    Boston University also has a number of classes -- both hands-on & demonstration. The hands-on are limited to 16 people & the kitchen space is huge. All of the instructors are amazing -- they've had Micahel Leviton from Lumiere, Bill Bradley who used to teach at the CIA, Kevin Crawley from Coriander...

                  2. Do not take classes at Cambridge Adult Ed. The instructors are terrible!! Take a class at Newbury College or at Cambridge Culinary, they are a million times better!

                    1. from bostonchefs.com: In the back to school spirit of September (which will be here before you know it), sign up for one of Boston University’s Seminars in Food and Wine and learn from pros like Ana Sortun, Kevin Crawley, Alejandro Luna or Michael Leviton.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Girl Friday

                        Has a new school opened in Cambridge, or are you folks refering to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts vs the Cambridge Culinary Institute?

                        1. re: Steve L

                          I was referring to Cambridge School of Culinary Arts on Mass Ave.