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Dec 5, 2009 10:21 AM

Looking for a culinary class in between beginner and professional

Hi Everyone,

My wife wanted to get me a cooking class as a holiday gift, but I'm a little stuck on the right course or location. I consider myself a pretty decent cook, and feel like I know the basics. Most of the classes offered at BCAE or Cambridge Culinary arts seem really introductory. At the same time, this is a hobby, not a career for me, so I don't need a full professional program.

Anyone have any suggestions? Something beyond basic, but less involved than a certificate? Or would a seasoned cook get something out of the CCA's intro class?



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  1. Did you look through this list?
    Several note that they are advanced or beyond "beginner," and even the beginner ones include techniques that are not necessarily common knowledge, such as stocks and soups or pate a choux, most of which are also components of their degree programs.

    1. What do you want to learn? I took the Knife Skills class at CCA as a beginner about 6 years ago, and most of the other people in the class were more experienced but still seemed to be learning and getting tips from the instructors. I may take it again sometime now that I've gotten some experience.

      Are you looking for general technique, or are there specific cuisines that you really enjoy but haven't tried making at home?

      1. I'm taking the Basics I course (6 classes) through Cambridge Culinary right now and enjoying it greatly. However, I think the classes are more about teaching me confidence in the kitchen rather than specific skills. Because the classes are pretty packed (12-14 people in each one) and you can only work on one recipe each week (other people do the others), you may not get quite as much out of it.

        You might look into their Basics II courses which don't seem to fill up as much, so perhaps more individualized attention, plus more advanced coursework.

        1. I've taken a number of classes at CSCA and have found the baking classes to be much more challenging than their cooking classes. Their regular baking classes taught all kinds of techniques but you can also sign up for the pricier classes with their fancy pastry chef guy (if he's still there).

          Some of the cooking classes were pretty elemental, others were instructive to me as an accomplished home cook. Sadly, I think it's pretty hit or miss, unless the class is entitled something "beginning."

          Don't even consider BCAE -- their classes are very disappointing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: C. Hamster

            the fancy pastry chef guy is Delphin Gomes, and he's still there. His rec classes tend to be demo-performance, while nearly all of the other classes tend to be 45-minute-lecture followed by everyone-picks-a-recipe-and-cooks-it.
            Your experience will vary widely by teacher, even if they're all competent; there must be 50 ways to teach your pie crust. Use the phone and ask about the styles of the teachers: some are more science-focused (gluten development, etc.) and others are more art-based (crimping your crust, etc.).

          2. I took a saucing class at Camb Culinary that was challenging... don't disregard simple sounding topics as being for beginners - and to some extent, the instructor can help add more to the class if you seek it out. What sort of advanced topics would you enjoy? Some advanced techniques, like fondant work or butchering, might be not that useful in day to day stuff.

            You might look at Stir, that Barbara Lynch place... they offer lessons. A good pasta course would be useful

            1 Reply
            1. re: grant.cook

              We took Helen Rennie's class on sushi and it was perfect for beginners.