The resident chefs at The Cooking School at Irwin Street model their teaching style after that of the quirky, patient Julia Child as they walk kitchen cadets through the basics of food transmogrification with a collection of helpful and laughter-filled classes held in two distinctive locations. Tucked away in the historic Old Fourth Ward, the indoor kitchen lets students loose on modern appliances amid appetite-kindling hues of pumpkin and avocado. The newly unveiled farm kitchen, meanwhile, incorporates vine-fresh produce and just-picked herbs from the surrounding soil in recipes prepared under the open sky. In both of these settings, the instructors pare cooking down to the essentials—an open mind, an eager palate, and a sharp, non-argumentative knife. Classes cater to a number of dietary restrictions, from creative vegan options and gluten-free baking lessons to smoked-meat sessions for inveterate salamivores. Most classes are BYOB, and some sessions are open to parent-child combos.
Learning to cook, waitress, bartend, and barback may seem like overpreparing for the food industry, but Restaurant & Bar Industry Training’s experts know that restaurant managers need all of these skills and more. The team teaches future managers the fundamentals of each role they aspire to supervise, as well as skills such as code enforcement and inventory management. Alternatively, the school’s 40-hour classes can focus on front-of-house roles, such as bartending and waitressing, or behind-the-scenes skills, such as cooking or assembling the restaurant’s booths every morning. Regardless of its area of focus, each course culminates in a final exam; students that score 80% or higher receive certification in their area of study.
When discussing Nigerian cooking with reporters from Atlanta Goodlife Magazine, Kunmi Oluleye beamed, "it's something that I do blindfolded." After all, Kunmi has been cooking since the age of 8, whipping up meals for her parents and three younger siblings and baking traditional breads, meat pies, and sausage rolls at her father's bakery in Lagos, Nigeria. Today, she brings her time-honored family recipes and lifetime of expertise to her own catering company—Sheba Foods.
Aided by a staff of African chefs, Kunmi folds traditional spices into authentic dishes from the continent. Deep in the Sheba kitchen, the chefs simmer meaty stews and fry plantains while plump sausage rolls rise in the oven. They deliver the fresh, dried, and prepared foods to homes around the world and cater freshly made feasts at local special events and parties. Their products have been in the shelves of mainstream supermarkets for years, and they continue to expand into new markets and grow from the branches of lunchbox trees around the country.
I Wish Lessons’ professionally guided classes convene in various venues throughout Chicago, Boston, DC, and Detroit, uniting and educating like-minded learners in vibrant social settings. The company’s hundreds of teachers have educated countless learners while introducing them to new friends and planning private events, including birthday parties and baby showers. Classes broach a multitude of engaging, lighthearted subjects, such as beer and bacon pairing, scotch tasting, cupcake decorating, and sushi rolling.