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Jan 19, 2009 08:14 AM

Cooking Classes Recommendations

I was wondering if anyone has any recommendation for some cooking classes. I'm interested in taking some basic classes first such as knife skills etc and then perhaps some specialty classes like Italian and French.

Does anyone been to any classes where they have had a good experience?

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  1. I took Culinary Arts 1 at George Brown's Continuing Education program with some friends and we were all disappointed with it. It was far too basic and the instructors seemed like industry hacks and did not inspire whatsoever.

    Look elsewhere.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mmacdon6

      Thanks for the heads up I was considering Humber for the sheer fact that they supposedly have a good culinary program.

      1. re: rapsrealm

        I took a couple of cooking classes at Humber in the late seventies. These classes were really exceptional. I have no idea whether there is any similarity between today's classes and the ones I attended.

        The instructor, Igor, would demo some techniques. We then prepped, and cooked, a huge multi course meal (at least 6 courses). Everyone was allowed to bring one guest to each class and most people brought wine. The classes could run up to five hours, a couple of which were spent eating (and drinking).

        I think these classes may have been atypical. Igor was the program head and seemed to spare no expense when purchasing supplies. We did hear some other instructors complaining to Igor that their food budgets were too small. Igor's certainly wasn't.

        Igor is likely long gone, but it might be worth checking out Humber's current programs.

      2. re: mmacdon6

        I've taken several cooking classes at George Brown, including Culinary Arts I and Culinary Arts II. I found the classes quite good. Culinary Arts I and II were both focus on the technique more so than the recipes. The chefs that I had teaching it were excellent but I have to go back to my outlines to see who exactly was teaching me. I find myself improved in the kitchen because I now know if I can rescue a recipe or to give it up. How to thicken sauces in multiple ways and to work with different cuts of meat, i.e. what to braise, what to grill.

        If you are disappointed in it, I'd highly encourage you to be more specific in what you're disappointed in so the original poster would be more informed. Some things do depend on the instructor and part of it is your own interest to ask the questions that have been bugging you about cooking techniques or myths you'd like to have debunked.

        I'd highly recommend the classes at George Brown. Food is included in the tuition and FURTHERMORE, you get a tax write-off with a T2202A that a private class would not be able to offer you. I would however avoid the knife skills class because you learn a lot of what is taught in there in Culinary Arts I anyway; however, there were some things that weren't covered that were taught in that class such as deboning an entire chicken and filleting whole fishes. You can't compare completely to YouTube because the Chefs are extremely friendly and helpful such that they will always circle the room to help catch mistakes. Never hesitate to ask them to show you again, they've always been more than willing to do so.

        I haven't had classes at Calphalon Culinary Centre before, but based on talking to someone while taking a demo class with them... the person beside me told me how you never really get to finish your meal from start to end. They are taken away by the staff mid-way through and finished for you.

        1. re: moreana

          I agree re: GB. I've taken a few courses there two, and with the exception of one, they've all been run by professional, competent teachers who improved my technique immensely.

      3. Not sure where you live, but I've taken a number of cooking classes through LCBO. The location in Millcroft (Burlington) often has some of the best chefs from Niagara. For example: Michael and Anna Olson (previously from On the Twenty), Tony de Luca, etc. These courses are great value and includes matched tasting samples of wine to complement your meal.

        1. I disagree about George Brown.

          I took the knife skills course there and thought it was a great value for money. I also took two other courses, and felt the same. However, they no longer the bargain basement price they were pre-renovation of their classrooms and building late last year.

          There's hands-on learning at the Toronto School Board, Calphalon, Dish, amongst other places, but I think you'll find that GB leads the pack. I did consider Humber but ruled it out due to distance.

          By the way, Humber is not George Brown. Humber has its own culinary program.

          3 Replies
          1. re: eatereater123

            I recently took a knife skills class at George Brown. I am a semi-serious (more serious, less semi) home cook, with no proper/formal training. This class was WAY to basic for a serious home cook IMO.

            When cutting veg, the instructor would show you three times how to cut one type of veg, then you go and cut the same veg for half an hour. First the onion, then the celery, then the carrot, then the tomato. If you don't already know the proper grip for knives, or slicing techniques, I recommend spending 5 minutes on the internet. Just as useful, and I just saved you $250 and 12 hours. (absolutely no disrespect to the chef's, just basic curriculum). In one class, you learn to filet a fish, and debone a chicken... once again, youtube.

            WRT the other courses, I have heard mixed reviews. People in my Knife Skills class said the class was fun, yet a little basic. The essentials are taught, so I'm considering taking the Culinary 1 myself (for stocks, sauces, etc.). The professional courses offered are graded, and apparently a little more serious. If you don't mind re-learning some basic stuff like how to julienne, fine dice, and so on. Go for the C1. Otherwise, maybe the professional class.

            I also did a Calphalon class, and the SO a Loblaws class. Both are geared towards the unskilled home cook. Very slow and simple instruction. All of your mise was prepped and ready. No cleaning, no measuring. Too simple.

            1. re: Derksen

              Thanks for the info on Calpholon. I was considering a class there but I don't want everything prepared in advance. Does anyone know of any classes that teaches a general class on say, sauces then invites you to create your own dish based on the technique or class? Something that you can put your own spin on rather than recreating the instructed dishes?

              1. re: jamesm

                The only thing close I experienced that may be close is my Creative Plating class at George Brown. You do get some recipes and you do get the ingredients that go with it... but he encouraged us to do whatever we want to incorporate the design techniques he showed us. We were also encouraged to bring in anything else we wanted to add to our design or tools to do it.

                In general the continuing education classes at George Brown doesn't force you to cook the dish exactly as you want. If you wanted to change it up a little you can do it there, but don't expect those ingredients to be there. The ingredients are bought according to the recipe being cooked that day. But if you read ahead and know you want say mushrooms in your dish, or put in wasabi in your dish instead of mustard, I'm sure you wouldn't encounter problems. I've also asked the chef before that if I didn't like something, what could I do instead or run some idea by them. They have always been willing to chat about it.

          2. I've taken many cooking courses and my fave is Bonnie Stern...check out her web set for current and up coming school...Miranda

            2 Replies
            1. re: miranda

              second Bonnie Stern - fun, laid-back, informative.

              1. re: miranda

                While Bonnie Stern's classes can be really great, they are (with very few exceptions) strictly demo. You won't get to actually prepare or cook the food and you will get, at most, only a small tasting sample.

              2. If you are thinking of a more intimate experience, I recommend Ezra at Chez Vous Dining ( I had him over for a private class for me and my SO and it was a great time. He brought all the ingredients (as we had previously discussed on the menu) and he even cleaned up all the dishes as we were eating the food. Fantastic.

                1 Reply
                1. re: exquisite

                  Second Chez Vous! Ezra is great. However if you are looking for something less intimate (i.e. classroom style) I'd suggest Dish Cooking School. Go online to check out their schedule. Their setup is wonderful, and it's a fun, educational evening. The meal and a glass or two of wine is included in the cost.