Continuing Education: Amateur Gourmets Need Training Too

Written by Anna Sanders on . Posted in Continuing Education, Posts.


With more than 23,500 restaurants in the five boroughs, it’s no question that New Yorkers enjoy eating. But many food fetishists aren’t satisfied with just digesting their grub, and decide they want to learn the difference between chopping and dicing, cartilage and gristle. To embrace the hands-on griddling-to-grilling, the city offers a slew of cooking classes with a variety of pricing and interactive levels.

"I think people take the classes here because they want to go to the next level to be a home cook," Michelle Warner, class manager at The Brooklyn Kitchen, explains. "They like eating out, they like dumplings, but maybe they’d like to do it at home."

Located at 100 Frost St. in Williamsburg, The Brooklyn Kitchen offers a wide variety of classes, from basic "Knife Skills" to the popular "Meat Hook" sausagemaking class. Warner points out that students can even take "Molecular Gastronomy."

"Students learn how simple stuff is," she explains.

According to Warner, students might experience food they wouldn’t try—let alone make—normally. "They get a good understanding of how to apply the skills they learn in class at home."

Classes on the cooking basics range from $40 to $50 (making them an ideal gift for a friend or significant other), and more advanced classes start at $60.

While The Brooklyn Kitchen hopes to teach students cooking skills to use when they get home, private at-home classes are available from Home Cooking New York (236 W. 26th St.).

"We felt that people learn best in their own environment," says Jennifer Clair, founder of Home Cooking New York. "The idea was to teach people in their own kitchen space so that when we left they could actually cook."

In Home Cooking’s private classes—which range from $300 for one or two students and $50 for each additional student—instructors teach participants a complete meal in about two and a half hours. Students can choose from a fixed menu or customize based on their learning preferences. "It’s fun," Clair explains. "It keeps us fresh."

According to Clair, Home Cooking began by providing only at-home instruction. "We started that way because it was a necessity," she says. "We didn’t have a place to rent."

After finding a kitchen location in Chelsea, Home Cooking started offering public classes. "We love going to people’s houses," Clair says, adding the publicoriented school is a more social environment. Though private classes provide direct training with chefs, Clair explains she also loves the sit-down meal following public classes. "People are always sharing all sorts of information."

In Clair’s opinion, cooking is an essential skill for living, adding that she felt New Yorkers, because of the high number of choices of places to eat, seem to get by the longest without learning how to cook at home. "Everyone needs to learn how to do it," she says.

Some people, explains Natural Gourmet Institute’s Judith Friedman, don’t just want to know how to cook, but want to know how to cook healthy food. "People enroll in our public cooking classes and our lecture classes to learn how to eat more healthily, to increase energy levels and to learn about health foods and healthsupported foods," Friedman says. She’s the program director for public classes at the institute.

The Natural Gourmet Institute (48 W. 21st St., 2nd floor) offers a variety of classes from which to choose, as well. While the demonstration and partial-participation classes—with a maximum of 22 and 18 students respectively—focus on instruction, the institute also offers hands-on classes in a wide array of subjects. In these interactive courses, a maximum of 14 students get direct guidance from instructors. Classes are mostly focused on vegan, vegetarian and weight-loss, from "Gluten- Free Vegan Masterpieces" to "The Art and Technique of Homemade Tofu."

The price also varies, but "an average class that’s three to four hours long is $110," according to Friedman. "Some are a little more, depending."

For example, the institute’s two-week summer intensive program is $2,295, but is still one of the more popular classes and teaches participants the basics over a series of sessions.

Friedman says instructors know some of their students may be beginners: "Each class is geared to help both the beginner and the more advanced," she explains.

Whether students want to become healthy vegetarians or lose weight, the institute’s classes all strive to provide them with the skills to make delectable dishes.

"We believe that healthy food can be either simple or gourmet," Friedman says. "But it can also look and taste delicious." 


Other Cooking Class Options

French Culinary Institute, 462 Broadway (at Grand St.), frenchculinary.com, $785-$7,730.

The world-renowned French Culinary Institute offers classes for amateurs, in addition to its career programs. Culinary basics, pastry (including "Sugar Paste Flowers") and bread classes are available. The institute also has specialized training classes, including "Fundamentals of Wine" and "Restaurant Management."

CAMAJE Cooking Classes, 85 MacDougal St. (at Bleecker St.), camaje.com, $65-$95 (bring a friend for a little more).

From "Serious Chocolate" to "Knife Skills," CAMAJE offers classes in a genuine New York restaurant kitchen, where you can experience the hustle and bustle like a true chef.

The Institute of Culinary Education, 50 W. 23rd St. (betw. 5th & 6th Aves.), iceculinary.com, $40–$1,390 (typically $110 for most five-session classes).

Though the institute offers professional classes, newbies can practice their skills with more than 1,500 courses a year for beginning and advanced students. Cooking, baking and wine-education classes are offered both day and night, and the typical class is about four to five hours long with one to five sessions total, depending on the class.

Miette Culinary Studio, 109 MacDougal St., Ste. 2 (one block south of W. 4th St.), mietteculinarystudio. com, $80-140.

Miette Culinary Studio offers classes to adults and children, as well as private cooking instruction for $200/hour. The studio also caters to private culinary and wine-tasting events, priced per person, at their charming townhouse location.

The Social Table, 306 W. 51st St. (betw. 8th & 9th Aves.), thesocialtable. com, $80.

Focused on simple, foundational cooking skills, The Social Table creates a relaxed social environment that makes cooking approachable. Though public classes are intimate with a maximum of eight students, private instruction is available for only $20 more per person, and all classes generally last three hours.

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