Last week I attended my first cooking class through the University of Richmond’s Extension Office Outside of Home Economics in school and a few cooking demonstration classes, this was my first true cooking class. This experience prompted me to write about what to look for when looking for the right cooking class to fit your interest and skill level.
First I would like to clarify the difference between a cooking class and a cooking demonstration class. A cooking demonstration is usually sitting in the audience watching a chef make a dish or discuss a cooking technique. It involves little or no involvement of the students. At most demonstration classes you can taste the food that was probably prepared before the class (depending on the dish/es)
The class I picked was a Tuscan Holiday, I know I am Italian so this was not a big stretch from my interest, but the menu included a few dishes I have never made. Also it was conveniently scheduled during daytime hours which meant no need for a sitter.
When we walked in four stations were set up, each representing the four dishes we were going to make that day. This was a 4 hour class.
To my surprise, we were only going to make one dish per team. My first little disappointment. The teacher did say we could observe the other stations when we were finished, but our dish took the longest.
By the time I washed my hands and got my apron the only two stations available were the Panzenella Salad station and the Apple Cake station. Second disappointment, as I have already made Panzenella salad several times and baking this particular cake did not involve too much that I did not already know.
I chose the baking station just to try out a new recipe. My partner was wonderful and she was a little scared of spring form pans so this was a good choice for her.
The class stopped a few times to teach others about cutting with the proper knives and how to properly cut an onion. I am not a chef but these things I knew through my years of cooking and working at Williams Sonoma for a short while. Maybe I should have taken a class about a cuisine that I am less familiar with like the Sushi or Thai classes but I thought I would probably use these less.
Now that I had this experience I now feel I would ask a few questions before signing up for a class.
What I would ask next time I take a cooking class?
Is this a demonstration or a hands on class?
How many dishes will each student be involved with?
What is the skill level needed for this class?
Are there any pre-requisite classes needed?
Will we be tasting the food at class or taken home?
Do I need to bring any tools with me?
Is this a skills class or a type of cuisine class?
Are the students in charge of clean up?
The food was good and it was so nice to cook and not have to clean up any of the mess. It also was nice to sit down with a glass of wine at 11am and enjoy our hard work. NOT a normal Friday Afternoon. I will share the recipes with you all in another post especially the Apple Cake since I had hands on experience with that.