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Dec 21, 2012 06:53 PM

Online cooking courses?

Has anyone taken online cooking classes, like those from Rouxbe, Top Chef or CI? I'm looking to up my game from average home cook to really good home cook and need input. I'm leaning towards Rouxbe right now, because it seems to be geared towards mastering classic techniques and moving away from recipes.

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  1. Curious if you decided to join Rouxbe. I'm currently enrolled in Top Chef U. I like it.

    I would've preferred Rouxbe, but my wife signed me for it with a groupon. Top Chef U seems a lot more watered down than Rouxbe. Again, I like Top Chef but it's not as educational as I would've liked.

    That said, I'm very confused by the different options on Rouxbe. They seem to have three different paths you can take--the difference between these paths is confusing--at least to me.

    4 Replies
    1. re: el bandito

      In the end, we determined that since what I most wanted was to master sautéed meats, pan sauces and stir-frying, it made the most sense to go with the 2-week free trial at CI. They had the material I wanted, as did the others. And it worked! Hubster is a master at the grill and we have no shortage of fabulous grilled meals, with me handling the salsas and sides. Sautéing meats and making simple sauces to go with them was the natural extension of how we eat; we're into fast, fresh and simple. Living in Florida encourages this style of food.

      In the 2 weeks I worked on mastering the techniques, we ate a lot of chicken and a lot of stir fry, but it was worth it in the end. I'm eyeballing a lot more ingredients, grabbing spices that fit the flavor profile I want, and just wading in. The food is good, which surprised the hell out of me, I've always been a bit timid about working without recipes, but now I just think about what I want and dive in.

      Rouxbe was confusing to me, too. They used to offer a la carte pricing for different technique courses. That seems to have been discontinued in favor of in-depth courses offered separately, plus 2 pay options for lifetime membership. To make it more confusing, there seems to be a lot of overlap in the courses.

      Tell me more about Top Chef, please? You say 'watered down,' how so? I didn't really get a sense of what they were about when I was perusing the website. It looked pretty recipe-centered, but I wasn't even sure of that. I would still like to take some cooking courses, sometime.

      1. re: DuffyH

        Perhaps watered-down isn't the best phrase. Like I said, I like the Top Chef course.

        With Rouxbe, they have a lecture about the technique or ingredient in addition to videos demonstrating the technique. With TC, they have no such lecture--just a demonstration of the technique. This is helpful, obviously, but some of the instructors spend most of their time saying "beautiful" and other comments that aren't very helpful. Some of the instructors teach their class like a cooking show. Occasionally, they do go into the why, but not as much as I would like. Generally, it's more of a side note. In other words, I feel like they do a good job of exposing me to all of the techniques, but they don't make it a point of emphasis to educate me about the techniques.

        From what I can tell, Rouxbe seems to place more of an emphasis on educating. Plus, Rouxbe allows you to ask questions and they respond rather quickly. TC has no such mechanism in place.

        Because I got TC with the Groupon, I feel like I got a really good value. I have learned some things, so I'm happy I did it.

        Glad to hear you enjoyed your CI course. Let me know if you have any questions about my TC experience. Again, I liked it.

      2. re: el bandito

        I'm going to amend my statement from two months ago. The longer I've stayed in Top Chef University, the more I've grown to love it. It's been a fantastic course, and I completely regret my initial post when I said it was watered-down.

        1. re: el bandito

          I'm glad to hear that, Bandito. I'm hoping that the online cooking schools do really well, so that more will come. They do have a lot to offer.