Now You’re Cooking!

5 ways to up the ante in the kitchen in 2013.

Show & Tell

He’s best known for his stint on Top Chef, but here in the Valley many of us know him as the culinary force behind the popular Firenze Osteria. It’s in that very restaurant where Fabio teaches his popular Sunday cooking class. 

More of an entertaining show than a hands-on class, students take their chairs in front of Fabio’s counter, sip wine and watch in rapt attention. The chef’s fans (both from TV and his Chow Ciao! Yahoo series) have a strong presence here. But there are also foodies and people with a sincere desire to learn from a pro. Fabio demonstrates—in his simplistic way—how to make various dishes from all types of cuisine in his simplistic, no nonsense style, while students sip wine in rapt attention. 

Class size: 50 to 60
Price: $40 per person for a two-hour class or $70 for two people
Sign up: firenzeosteria.com
Bonus: Attendees get to taste everything made, in which ends up to be a bona fide Sunday lunch. Walk away with the recipes too.

 

Stay Home Cook

Classically trained chef Jennifer Sperling honed her talent at a few restaurants before deciding on a career as an on-the-road chef and founding her Pink Sparrow cooking school.

Armed with everything needed for the session, Jennifer teaches students at their homes. Classes range from “Knife Skills” to “The Art of Sautéing” to “Moroccan Cuisine.”  “Beginner cooks typically like the Cooking 101 class and the skills’ classes. The more advanced tend to like the International classes,” Jennifer shares. Afterwards, students enjoy the food they’ve made while Jennifer takes care of clean up. 

Class size: 1 – 12 people 
Price: $125 per person, up to a group of 3. For groups of 4 or more, $75 per person.
Sign up: pinksparrowcatering.com
Bonus: Want a hand at your next dinner party? Jennifer will come and cook with you for your soiree. 

 

D.I.Y. Fantasy

The Institute of Domestic Technology is the brainchild of Joseph Shulinder who believes that “people are hungry to find out how things are made.” Described as a “food crafting” school, students discover how to make cheese, preserves, mustard, artisanal bread and from scratch. “What our students do is learn to make things that are healthier and tastier than what you can buy at the store,” Joseph explains. 

Taught by some of LA’s top food crafters, all of whom exhibit a passion for what they do, students not only learn how to make gourmet items, but about food in general. For example, in the Milk Crafting 101 class, there’s a lecture on milk that focuses on the various types, the difference between homogenized and pasteurized and how to buy the freshest, healthiest milk possible.

Class size: 16
Price: Ranges from $95 for a two-hour class to $225 for an all-day session. All materials provided and daylong classes include a full lunch.
Sign up: instituteofdomestictechnology.com
Bonus: The classes are taught at either the Zane Grey Estate, a private residence and urban micro-dairy in Altadena, or the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. Both are cool, historic properties, on their own, well worth a visit. 

 

   

Custom Made

Culinary Bliss offers consultation and classes that are perfect for someone trying to get down the basics, in a fun low-key atmosphere, whether it’s wanting to create and stock the perfect pantry or prepare innovative kid friendly recipes.  “But I do have some experienced cooks who want to learn more advanced techniques,” owner Pam Reims says.  

With classes like “Kitchen Equipment 101,” her teaching philosophy is to take the mystery out of cooking. “Most people don’t want to spend tons of time in the kitchen.  My job is to turn my formal training and cooking experience into simple techniques and recipes that will work for the home cook.”  She’ll come to you or you can go to her home. She teaches kids and adults and afterwards, everyone dines.

Class size: Can be anything from a one-on-one to a small group
Sign up: culinaryblissla.com
Price: $100/hour with a 3 hour minimum + the cost of food
Bonus: Pam will basically custom create any class you’d like. She also teaches groups who get together on a regular basis, like a book club. They cook and then eat.  She is also available to cook family meals.

 

 

Health In Mind

Cook LA cooking school owner Liz Alexanian was schooled at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts in Manhattan, so it’s no surprise she has healthy meals front and center. “But we don’t sacrifice on taste,” she quips. 

At the Studio City facility, there are a variety of classes for kids, teens and adults. Cook LA’s “Farmer’s Market” class promotes seasonal vegetables, teaching how to use some more unusual veggies like celery root, fennel and rutabaga. There’s also a Thai cooking class for people who eat gluten-free. With a class like “Cuban Cuisine,” students learn how to “do it healthier,” Liz explains. She adds, “We pan fry stuff lightly instead of deep fat frying. But it is subtle. We give choices and balance.”

Class size: Averages 12 students per class
Price: $75 for a 2½-hour session
Sign up: cooklaonline.com
Bonus: Cook LA does events. There’s the “Iron Chef Challenge” aimed at corporate team building, an afterschool cooking program as well as birthday parties for childre
n.