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los angeles cooking school?

can anyone recommend a good cooking school in LA? I can't go to Le Cordon Bleu because I work full time and wouldn't be able to attend their classes. I looked into Epicurean but it seemed like they didn't really have their sh*t together, though their sunday chef pro classes look most promising to me... just wondering if i've missed anything or if anyone has any other info about epicurean? i'm a non-pro chef, though im very interested in the pro programs... thanks so much!

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  1. Aqua - I have been to this this cooking school many times, and always enjoyed myself. The instruction is excellent, and it's very hands-on, unlike some places that claim to be cooking schools but are really demonstration only. The fees may seem kind of high, but at the end of class you get to taste everything that the class made and they open wine, so it's like getting a meal at the end. If you are the slightest interested in baking, be sure get one of the classes where Cindy Mushet is teaching. She is my fave.

    New School of Cooking, in Culver City
    http://newschoolofcooking.com/

    9 Replies
    1. re: kotatsu

      I hated my two classes at New School of Cooking.

      Hands on classes mean that everyone breaks into groups of 4. Sadly, too many people really don't know how to cook. One girl in my group did not know how to break cauliflower into florets. She sliced the cauliflower which affected the whole curry dish. Another added massive amounts of salt.

      In the meantime the "cooking instructor" wanders around the room, only being able to give one small foursome his/her attention.

      Cooking is all about technique. It is not about letting people try to figure out HOW to cook. I want to know from my instructor at what point do I know my sauce is done, what is the best way to cut the meat, when do you add the next ingredient, how do I know my dish is done? Hands on classes do not answer any of those questions. Your fellow group-mates do not know. The instructor, who is usually in another group, is not able to answer.

      My hands on classes at New School of Cooking, and one at Sur La Table did not answer "how to' questions. I got to cook without instruction, but I can do that at home.

      1. re: SilverlakeGirl

        Thanks for the unabashed review. This reminds me of those lovely 'group projects' in high school and college. Sure, they help build teamwork skills, sure if you get a great group you can do cool things.

        But you make some great points about the limits of that idea's usefulness. I wouldn't mind some group participation, but based on your post I think if I look for a cooking class I'll lean toward any that have a substantial non-collaborative session, or at least are a small group thing put together with a few friends where it would be clear everyone would be able to have instructor access throughout. (I've noticed some restaurants will do cooking classes for small groups, albeit at probably more cost than a cooking school session. One is Akbar in Marina del Rey - an Indian restaurant that I think has particularly ideally cooked Indian food.)

        1. re: Cinnamon

          I have been taking cooking classes for decades. I used to love the old Montana Mercantile for classes.

          Sadly, virtually all of the classes have converted to "hands-on" ... even Sur La Table which used to be a hold out. Every cooking school tells me that people prefer them even though they do not get real instruction.

          I'm beginning to think one has to go to professional cooking school to learn.

          My classes with professional cooks can do a "hands-on" approach only becasue they are very small ... 6 to 8 students. The "instructor" can look over you and teach the others as he or she helps you learn.

            1. re: sarcasmsk

              At New School of Cooking I have taken classes with Neelam Batra and Jet Tila.

              It was interesting as I had taken years and years of her classes at Santa Monica City College. They were conducted in the Science Labs with stadium seating. Small, they were instruction classes. One learned about technique & they were wonderful classes.

              Sadly, she lost the venue and SMCC no longer held the classes.

              Hands-On classes are good for playtime ... but don't expect to learn a thing. For the price, buy all the ingredients, make the dishes at home.

              1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                thank you so much for the replies! i'm still debating between the pro chef 1 program at epicurean and pro chef 1 at new school of cooking. i've heard mixed reviews at both, but the person who answered the phone at epicurean was so rude that unless i hear a rave about that program, my votes has been swayed. really, i want to learn as much as possible. if i had time, id go to cordon bleu, but i just cant with my job... so that said, i want the most professional program i can find. i'm open to any other suggestions... but i also dont want to pay 80bucks a pop on individual themed classes...

            2. re: SilverlakeGirl

              I still think people should try to go to look for a hands on class.

              If you're just going to sit around and watching a person cook, you might as well just watch the Food Network at home.

              1. re: hobbess

                I could not disagree more.

                Why cook "hands on" when there is no instruction? I have been taking cooking classes for over 40 years and there is no substitute for a good cook/chef who can "demonstrate" each step.

                If you want hands on, why not just buy the cookbook? You'll have more information than a hands on class.

          1. try the chef pro classes at the culinary classroom (www.culinaryclassroom.com), which is just off pico about a mile east of the 405. i've taken classes there and at the new school and I'm currently enrolled in the chef pro classes at the culinary classroom. you can audit a class to see if you like it or not (which is what i did at both the new school and the culinary classroom).

            1 Reply
            1. re: linger gicking food

              The end part got tacked onto that URL so I got a page load error. This should work:

              http://www.culinaryclassroom.com

            2. Also check out LA Foodworks. The classes there are very flexible, moderately priced and low key--the owner, Rose, is lots of fun. (Although it doesn't hurt to bring your own cooking partner so you don't get stuck with the one person who doesn't know how to chop.) Contact her if you don't see what you want on the site. She used to be in West Hollywood, but now most of the classes are held at restaurant kitchens in the Larchmont area.

              http://lafoodworks.com

              1. You may also want to check out Hip Cooks. They aren't professional classes per se but are definitely hands on, small class sizes, and a fun atmosphere. The link is to their west location but they have another one too.

                -----
                Hip Cooks
                2833 S Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                1. Check out "Lets Get Cookin" in Westlake Village. I took a catering class there this past weekend and it was excellent. They have a professional series starting in September (orientation in August) that I am most likely going to take. It's a bit of a jike, but it's only once a week, and you can still work full-time.