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los angeles cooking school?

a
aquaeyes4 Jun 12, 2009 01:18 PM

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!

  1. k
    kotatsu Jun 12, 2009 02:15 PM

    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
      SilverlakeGirl Jun 12, 2009 05:27 PM

      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
        c
        Cinnamon Jun 13, 2009 09:35 AM

        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
          SilverlakeGirl Jul 1, 2009 12:23 AM

          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.

        2. re: SilverlakeGirl
          a
          abr2478 Jun 30, 2009 04:54 PM

          I agree with Silverlakegirl!!!!!

          1. re: SilverlakeGirl
            s
            sarcasmsk Jun 30, 2009 09:16 PM

            Which 2 classes did you take?

            1. re: sarcasmsk
              SilverlakeGirl Jul 1, 2009 12:29 AM

              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
                a
                aquaeyes4 Jul 2, 2009 03:12 PM

                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
              h
              hobbess Sep 29, 2009 11:58 PM

              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
                SilverlakeGirl Dec 26, 2010 12:38 PM

                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.

          2. l
            linger gicking food Jun 12, 2009 03:14 PM

            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
              c
              Cinnamon Jun 13, 2009 09:39 AM

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

              http://www.culinaryclassroom.com

            2. c
              coffeebrownies Jun 18, 2009 06:17 PM

              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. h
                hdalsy Jun 19, 2009 09:14 AM

                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. o
                  Obessed Jul 1, 2009 08:13 AM

                  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.

                  1. trolley Jul 1, 2009 01:09 PM

                    i took the baking certificate class at Epicuriean and I enjoyed for what it is. The class I took was about 8-10 people and we split off into groups of two. the teacher would do a fast mini demo first then we were on our own in a group of two to prepare about 3 desserts each night. I learned quite a bit and we were also had each had our own stations. Keep in mind this was in 2005 and i think they have moved down the street since so i have no idea what the new set up is. Also keep in mind that both Epicurean and New school are really not professional schools like the cordon bleu. they're more for the casual cook/baker but very interested in technique and honing their skills. There were some people that were taking the chef course and expected to get jobs in the field afterward so i suspect there are people who take it to a higher level than i expected.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: trolley
                      trolley Jul 1, 2009 06:23 PM

                      apologies for the atrocious grammar and writing. hope you find a class that meets your needs.

                    2. m
                      mindymo25 Jul 1, 2009 04:50 PM

                      Check out Chez Cherie in La Canada. I have been going to her classes since 2005 when I received a gift certificate for a few classes at my bridal shower. Four years later I'm still going and never tire of any of the classes offered. She is a huge Trader Joe's fan (who isn't) so she uses a lot of products from them, in fact, she even has a Trader Joe's class. She also has great weeknight meals classes, BBQ classes, soup classes, braising, sauces, french, italian, tapas...you name it, she teaches it.

                      Only a few of the classes are hands on, the rest are instructional, which I like. Her approach to cooking is very laid back and filled with a lot of humor. I really don't think you can go wrong and have to say I really came out of my "cooking shell" since I started taking these classes four years ago.

                      www.chezcherie.com

                      1. f
                        FoodieForay Jul 4, 2009 12:51 PM

                        I’m with Mindy, Chez Cherie is great! Have been a student and a fan for over eight years. She changed my life in the kitchen (and my sh*t wasn’t too bad when I started, but thanks to her classes do I dare say home pro :-). Last weekend actually navigated my way through a five course cooking dinner for 10 and it was fab and fun!) my guy and all my friends and family who through the years have enjoyed her classes and recipes. Many Chez Cherie recipes have graced our table from informal forays to fancy over the top parties. Mindy listed a lot of her classes and her website schedule which right now does not give the full scope of what she offers.

                        The majority of her classes are instructional and enjoyed with a dining experience of the class menu which is set on lovely table rounds for a relaxing Q&A time with Cherie. For me the reward of hooking up with Chez Cherie is having a cooking partner I can reach out to 24/7 (she is way cool on the email or call with an OMG! the meal will be ruined question at 8P, Xmas) and through the years I have requested all sorts of classes and she has offered many of them. Let her know what you want! Happy 4th.

                        1. m
                          macitajs Sep 23, 2009 09:28 PM

                          I took a class at hipcooks (robertson)--persian--and it was pretty bad.

                          the instructor forgot to let everyone know what dishes we were preparing a few times (since she randomly assigns tasks to various people, the flow is disrupted).

                          also, she controlled the burner on the portable gas unit (we were on the opposite side of the counter), which meant that we were left tending to meatballs that were overcooking, waiting for her to reduce the heat. the instructors tend to give up control here, but not there. for example, they leave out ridiculous quantities of herbs or aromatics and nuts, suggesting that it's up to the students to decide how much of anything to use. yet, on the other hand, the instructor later intervenes, adding more onion to onion that had been cooking for five minutes. or increduously remarking that an awful lot of lemon had been juiced for the salad dressing. i get that amounts depend on taste, but it's better to start with clear guidelines and let people practice balancing different amounts at home.

                          i think it's well enough for the interested student to just look at the menu posted online and then google each dish to find what sounds like a decent recipe (and combine between a few). they really don't teach much, and most of the prep is already done (we did no real chopping for example).

                          for those just looking for an experience, it's fine, but i left feeling like i didn't get much out of it. i'm reasonably competent in the kitchen, though.

                          1. perk Sep 24, 2009 11:01 AM

                            What is the name of the place downtown that holds cooking classes in a loft? Supposedly very popular.....

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: perk
                              c
                              cjla Sep 24, 2009 02:20 PM

                              Hipcooks has classes in the Brewery Lofts.

                              1. re: cjla
                                perk Sep 25, 2009 08:34 PM

                                Thanks, cjla.

                            2. b
                              Bruce Kerr Sep 24, 2009 09:08 PM

                              A search of cooking schools led me to Chef Erics Culinary Kitchen on Pico (near Apple Pan) The classes combine lecture, followed by hands-on, followed usually a great full meal. Chef Eric is a born teacher - very thorough, always on top of everything, never rushed, and always there to assist and answer questions.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Bruce Kerr
                                p
                                paprkutr Sep 25, 2009 06:57 PM

                                Took some classes there, he is very personable. Wasn't crazy about the classes, always something missing, and something always went wrong.

                              2. c
                                ChloeinLA Dec 26, 2010 12:07 PM

                                Ecole de Cuisine www.ecolecuisine.com
                                Located in Pasadena

                                1. b
                                  Bruce Kerr Dec 26, 2010 03:54 PM

                                  I think most would agree that all things being equal, we get more out of "hands on" instruction - in any learning experience. but like everything else, there is good and bad. Four years ago, I looked into all the "schools", tried a couple, then found Chef Eric and the Culinary Kitchen in WLA off Pico. They do it all right ! Most classes are 3 hours, beginning with review of the 6-8 dishes to be done, and a demonstration of any complexities. Then into the kitchen where recipes and ingredients are at each cooking station. Now the big difference. Eric is a TEACHER ! He is aware of what is going on at each station. He never intrudes, but seems to sense whenever someone needs help, and is there to guide. And a few times during the class, he will call everyone to one station to review a particularly important step of that recipe.
                                  All of this is always followed by a wonderful meal. They have a large array of classes - including a professional chefs course.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Bruce Kerr
                                    Mr Taster Dec 27, 2010 08:49 AM

                                    Several years ago there were some pretty horrible accounts of Chef Eric that stuck in my mind...
                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/403771

                                    Mr Taster

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