I've decided this is my year to get serious about learning to cook -- beyond just following a recipe and actually learning the "whys" and techniques behind things. Along those lines, I'm considering rouxbe.com. Anyone have an opinion one way or the other? Or any alternatives for an online cooking school?
I do like Alton Brown, but need something more organized, start at the beginning, point A to point B kind of thing. Also found a website called "Cooking for Engineers" which was kind of cool, but they don't have the videos I'm looking for.
I think rouxbe is a great video site. However you will still be following recipes. To move beyond recipes and learn to cook and manage your food and kitchen look up cooking 101. I agree with you that there people that can follow resipes and there are people that just cook. That stage of just cooking is where the task turns into enjoyment. Another great reference is The Flavor Bible. A great place to start is with leftovers. Don't just reheat them, look up what flavors go with what you have and reinvent your leftovers into something new. Ceativity and confidence is what most people need to practice in their kitchens.
I did a quick check of rouxbe and it looked to me like it is not about recipes but learning basic techniques. I watched a couple minutes of the one on pan frying and it seemed to do a good job. Personally, I think learning these basics is the first step in becoming a good cook, because once you feel comfortable working with food and equipment then you can begin to experiment with all the flavors and ingredients out in the world. You'll also be able to read recipes and understand what they are talking about and can begin to envision dishes in your minds eye before you ever start cooking them. Don't know the cost, but if you don't know how to cook I think this site could be very useful.