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Jan 14, 2013 08:39 PM

Have you ever taken a one day cooking class ?

I always laugh looking back at the Italian cooking class I took with my sister at the CIA in St Helena.We were waiting for the class to start and people were asking if this was hands on or a demonstration.Little imformation was provided.We walk into this beautiful kitchen on the top floor of the building.It was huge.After a short introduction of the chef and her cookbook.She had each pair of students cook one of the twelve recipies provided from her book.We ended up with pork marsala.Here's the recipie and the ingredients for the dish,she said. You have one hour. My sister cant cook at all.I have to slice and pound the pork into cutlets.The other people in the class are scrambling to put together their assigned recipies. Oh, and two of the stoves were not working. It was loud pounding the cutlets on that metal table even with a towel underneath.I'm kinda having fun with all the chaos.My sister is helping me out.Must be the wine being poured.Got the dish ready at the last minute.I had to wait for a stove. Ended up sneaking some butter into the recipie. Then we ate all of the dishes and gave them a critic.Was it fun ? YES. Did you learn anything.NO.
Would you take a one day class again? Not Sure. So,have you taken a cooking class? Was it fun and did you learn anything? Or want to take one?

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  1. When I first got interested in cooking, I took a handful of them at the Viking Cooking School on Atlanta, where I lived at the time. I really enjoyed them and learned a lot, especially about knife skills.
    When I travel, I always try to hunt one down. I've done several day classes in Thailand (and a week-long one), and plenty one day courses in different places in Europe. I honestly think I would not be half the home cook I am without the skills I gained in these classes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: alliegator

      I've been thinking of taking a knife skills class at a local cooking school (one designed for fun, not careers), but I'm not interested in super-beginner stuff or knife safety - I know how to curl my fingers, sharpen a knife, etc. Can you tell me anything about your knife skills class?

      1. re: NonnieMuss

        I took a knife class designed for fun. It was definitely a beginners class. The best thing I got out of was getting to try out different brands of knives, and I ended up buying one (Global). This was at a kitchenware store in Chicago that has lots of classes. So unless the class description says it's not for beginners, I wouldn't do it.

        1. re: NonnieMuss

          The highest "level" I took was intermediate. We practiced boning chicken, some fish, and fancier cuts for fruits and veg.
          For more advanced home cooks like most here, it might not be useful. But I never started really cooking until I moved back after living in Thailand for a year, and we bought a house that had a beautiful kitchen (I can brag it up now, because we're not there anymore). It was 6 years ago. I just sort of stood there and resolved to learn to use that kitchen so I could recreate the food I loved there. So I just started taking courses. I only chose hands on classes. If you can find a somewhat advanced class, I'd say go for it. You'll only lose a couple of hours if it wasn't worth it.

      2. Mine was with a local chef originally from the Netherlands. Great restaurant. Fusion of everything Euro and Florida. Wasteless for acquiring skills or techniques. Ended up paying $75 to eat boring food and getting the recipes for the 4 course meal.

        Not all great chefs are passable instructors.

        1. I've taken a few "classes" over the years and enjoy them but don't always learn very much. I enjoy the experience and if I walk away with one new technique I'm happy. Most of the classes I've taken have been "demonstration classes" though very "hands on" in that they were small groups in a real kitchen watching the chef make the dishes. Occasionally one of us would be in charge of watching a pot or trying a technique - but not as free form as what you've described.

          My favorite ones and what I feel I walked away with besides the recipes and memories

          Eric Ripert - learned 3 ways he poaches fish and that his palate is insanely fine tuned - and he was insanely pleasant (for a french chef haha)

          Marco Canora - his gnocchi technique which is very visual and I don't think i would have understood without the class. and how he handles octopus (it was delicious)

          Nadia Irigoyen - her ceviche was wonderful (topped with popcorn) and she puts fish in the blender (with ginger, lime, etc) when making her ceviche. It was a great way to add a depth of flavor that I had never tried.

          A chef from Italy (who's name I don't remember) - who used spinach powder in his pasta, I had never even heard of spinach powder but it made the most evenly colored wonderfully tasting spinach pasta

          Francois Payard - (more in line with what I expected from a french trained chef) but being able to feel his pastry doughs was invaluable and watching him make caramel - actually seeing into the pan - was a big take away.

          So while we made many many recipes across all of these classes, what I learned was often what amounted to more "little take aways" or "tricks". So I often tell people when they ask about cooking classes, that they need to adjust down their expectations of what they are really going to be walking away with.

          But that said, even with watching relatives or people's grand mothers making pasta/bread/pies/etc - it took me watching and doing it with them many many times before I really felt like I had "learned" their techniques, so I'm not sure how fair it is to expect much more from a class.

          As long as you enjoyed yourself and they kept the wine flowing I'd say it was a success :)

          4 Replies
          1. re: thimes

            Not to be gauche or anything, but I'm curious as to what one has to do to get a cooking class from Eric Ripert. I didn't think "big fish" chefs did cooking classes.

            1. re: lamb_da_calculus

              well I'm embarrassed by my post now but its far to late to delete it - it comes off as very name dropping and snooty, which wasn't my intent but in trying to keep it short and give credit where credit was due that is how it reads to me too - lesson learned . . . be careful what you type on these boards ;)

              He did a class at a food event in Colorado that at the time was sponsored by Bon Appetit. It was a 3-4 hour class followed by lunch. It was great fun. I just was lucky enough to buy a ticket before they sold out (I think there were maybe 15 of us in that class). I'm not exactly sure why he agreed to do it but very glad he did and it was very enjoyable.

              1. re: thimes

                No need to hang your head, you've just been in the right places at the right times! I'm glad you shared.

                1. re: thimes

                  The post is fine, I didn't interpret it as name-dropping at all. Just a list of cool experiences.

            2. I've taken classes at Sur La Table - pasta making, sausage making, cheese making, cooking from the farmers market, etc. The classes are much more organized than the one you describe and class kitchen is very well equipped due to the place being a cooking store. Instructors for the most part do a decent job of demonstrating, then walking around as pairs or small groups practice.

              Real chefs would, of course, be bored but I find them relaxing, fun, and a nice way to be exposed to a new technique or cuisine that I haven't experienced before.

              1. Several, mostly in Europe (i.e. pasta in Italy, truffles in Croatia). The most recent was in Paris. My preference is hands on - have not been to demo only classes. I teach cooking classes myself that are very specific such as cooking with herbs in summer, making dressings/vinaigrettes, braising, gluten-free baking, cooking with cheese, etc. My classes are extremely hands on and the greatest compliments I receive are such as, "Before this class I hated lamb. Now I cook it often!" Seeing passion in others' eyes is the best feeling ever.