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Aug 3, 2014 11:00 PM

Cooking class/"landmark" bar: 2 Venice questions

1) Could someone share a brief explanation of the Harry's Bar tradition? I keep hearing allusions to it but don't know the genesis of it. What's the big deal, just that celebrities went there? Not being disrespectful, truly just curious.

2) has anyone done the cooking class at Gritti Palace, private session or group? We won't be there for a scheduled session so would do the private one with the exec chef. Shockingly my husband seems ok with the idea so before proceeding I'd love input as to whether it is worthwhile. I know it is really pricey, probably overpriced, but if the hubs is willing to consider I have to investigate!


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  1. 1) Short history of Harry's Bar, see link:
    Harry's Bar is what we label as an 'institution'. The only celebrity that I admired who frequented it was Gore Vidal. Now a day, one might spot a Kardashian, but more likely one will rub elbow with wealthy Texans, Russian oligarchs, oil Sheiks, jet setting Chinese offsprings or just plain tourists wondering why a Bellini costs 27 euros and a simple three course dinner is over 150 euros before drinks. The location is a plain building right in front of the second busiest vaporetto stop. The busiest being the Santa Lucia train station. The ground floor bar with few tables is the most sought after space. Otherwise, eating is in the low ceiling second floor. No view to speak of in or out. If the name, Harry's Bar doesn't mean much to you, skip it.
    2) Never taken a class or anything else other than a drink at their great bar. Like everything else at the Gritti, it is expensive. Is it worth it? if it as simple as learning to cook Venetian food, probably not. If budget is not a consideration, probably fun if the exec chef is a charmer. And if time in Venice is short, personally, I would spend my precious time exploring the amazing city, much of it free. The most wonderful aspect of Venice is not the 'well known' but the little hidden things around every corner.

    1. Generally cooking classes with executive chefs at hotels are usually demonstration only. It's been my experience that this is the last thing in the world that this chef wants to be doing, and so you really don't get a true cooking lesson.

      I think a much funner thing to do, food wise, would be to take a private cooking class or even a food walk, so that you get out and see some of the city as well. Monica Ceserato does both, and her walks are super fun:

      For something more upscale (which maybe your husband is more comfortable with?) Italy Hotline does a private cooking class in a 17th c. Palace

      Hope this helps!

      1 Reply
      1. re: minchilli

        Thank you Elizabeth. As it turns out the hotel is only offering its 3-day course while we are there, not the private session. So it is a moot topic.

        However, if you have any suggestions for the time we will be in Florence (6 nights) I'd be thrilled to hear them. I'd love to do a wine tour/tasting/cooking thing one day, though right now I'm leaning toward a half-day wine in Tuscany option only. So much to see, so little time!

      2. In Florence I participated in a multi day course that was excellent at:

        Courses - Scuola di Arte Culinaria Cordon Bleu - Firenze / Cordon ...

        1. Sue if you go to Tuscany, I warmly advice you to contact Judy Witts at Divina Cucina for a cooking class or one of her famous market tours. You will have a wonderful time with one of Italy's culinary experts!

          1 Reply
          1. re: madonnadelpiatto

            Love her website, don't know if the timing will work though :-(.