Relatively inexpensive cooking classes?
So I'm a university student and after a year of making very simplistic canned sauce-pasta dishes, I'm thinking that I seriously need to look into expanding my culinary skills! While I have been browsing around used bookstores for some basic cookbooks, I was wondering if anyone knew of any relatively inexpensive cooking classes that an inexperienced person can take part in around Toronto.
I'm looking for something that's generally simple and basic - I can't imagine I'd be accepted right now into some sort of culinary chef program ;P
George Brown continuing ed Culinary Arts I isn't what most people would think of as "cheap" but honestly, I learned a lot. I've just completed the certificate program (no qualification required). The Culinary Arts I and II is really all you need to get your technique down. Food is included in the cost of tuition and you take home a meal for 4 (sometimes with side dishes/dessert). You also eat what the chef has demo'd. Many times I've also managed to take home extra ingredients from those who skipped class.
After Culinary Arts I and II, you start seeing in ways you can cut corners on recipes, and change it to be right if you see inefficient methods or why they are telling you to do it. Now I rarely use recipes. I'll look at them still for combination ideas I never thought of. The regional classes aren't necessary and nor is the knife class that useful if you're trying to save money. I did hear that sauces and marinades is worth it but I never took it (did want to, scheduling wasn't right).
The most inexpensive way to learn how to cook is from Youtube. Search for the dish you want to make. Watch the videos over and over and then go shopping and cook for a friend. I do this to learn techniques from other cuisines. ie. Indian, Thai.
Another way to learn is from family and friends. If you like a particular dish, just ask someone to show you how to make it. You bring the ingredients, and cook together. I do this with my Grandma to learn traditional Ukrainian recipes.
Cooking shows are okay, but they are more entertainment than education.
George Brown College offers excellent culinary courses in their con-ed stream.
Not the cheapest, but I took the "back to basics" course through Bonnie Stern's School of Cooking and really enjoyed it -> would recommend it to anyone who's looking for a good basic cooking class. She teaches basic recipes with simple good quality ingredients and also discusses "newbie" techniques. It was $350 for 3 classes - 3 hour classes for a 3 week period...not the cheapest, but I felt her technique kinda inspired me to get back into the kitchen.
6 Erskine Ave, Toronto, ON M4P, CA
I did a Loblaws Thai cooking class way back when and it was super cheap...around $40 or so and it was hands-on. I would highly recommend it. Whole Foods does cheap classes too and they are quite accessible and have a very wide range of topics. Most seem to range in the $30 mark but seem to be demos?
Lisa - The Hip & Urban Girl's Guide @ http://www.hipurbangirl.com
There are cooking classes inside some Loblaws stores, e.g. St Clair West. They are inexpensive in that you just pay for one night, it is not a long series of classes. I'm not sure exactly how much they are or how that compares to other choices. They also will by design not require a lot of exotic ingredients that you can't get in a regular grocery store. There are a variety of different offerings throught the year.
OK, I looked at their web site and it doesn't get any cheaper than this. At the lower Jarvis store, you can go to a cooking demonstration (OK, that's not as hands on as a class, but if ideas are your main need ...) for $10 but you get a $10 gift card you can use in the store.
St Lawrence Market also offers inexpensive cooking classes each week. I believe they are $50 and although I have not taken them myself, I had a girlfriend who did and said it was perfect for what she was looking for - basic, yet knowledgeable.
One of the most inexpensive are classes offered by the Toronto District School Board in their continuing education general interest courses. There's one running right now called Chef on the Run that might suit you but classes have already started so maybe next semester -
More pricey but some interesting short courses or one-day workshops offered by Great Cooks on Eight -
More expensive but offering some basic skills classes is Calphalon Culinary Centre -
Good on you for wanting to learn. And good luck!