Inside the kitchen of TriniSoul, students get the opportunity to face down the scotch bonnet—a lantern-shaped pepper that smolders with 50 times more heat than a jalapeño. The heavy-duty pepper is just one of the extraordinary ingredients introduced to students by Chef D, a Caribbean native who holds court during cooking classes that center around the recipes she grew up enjoying. Her foray into culinary instruction started as a few simple classes on the cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago, but her teaching style developed a rabid following, and Chef D's curriculum has grown to cover many types of Caribbean cuisine as well as American-style soul fare. More than 6,000 students have enrolled in Chef D's classes, which can accommodate groups of up to 24 in TriniSoul's kitchen as well as private instruction in one's own kitchen or properly equipped subway car.
Bally enshrines exercise classes, calorie-burning equipment, and a fitness-focused staff within its sanctuaries of health. A 30-day membership includes access to a spread of group exercise classes, including Pilates, Reaction Cycling, and Step Fitness (class offerings vary by location). For self-guided worker-outers, cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, and stair climbers torch calories while entertaining the brain with video entertainment and integrated music systems that occasionally whisper quotes from Charles Atlas. Bally also boasts an array of strength machines, free weights, and small-apparatus equipment, and grants gym-goers access to on-site locker rooms, showers, and, at some locations, a pool and steam room. Visit each location's webpage for a list of specific amenities and the lineup of classes.
Though chef Nadege Fleurimond was once forced to stretch her culinary creativity as a contestant on Food Network's Chopped, she experiments in the kitchen every day. Her menus blend a unique array of American, French, Italian, Latin, and Caribbean recipes into dishes for all on- and off-camera occasions. Her culinary teams follow her instructions to build international entrees and desserts, passed appetizers, and cocktails during festive buffets and lavish sit-down dinners.
When Chef Nadege and her staff aren’t traveling to events all over the East Coast, they host local group cooking lessons. These informal classes have taught guests to decorate cakes, simmer Thai curries, and cook traditional Caribbean dishes. They also host regular events, such as themed dinner parties and knitting circles using handmade pasta.
Founded by Kensington resident and former corporate executive Wilhyn Larsen, Namaste Yoga of Kensington works to add yoga to everyone's daily fitness routine. With classes ranging from rigorous power Vinyasa to restorative tai chi, the studio features something for everyone. Instructors lead classes in yellow sunlit studios with mirrors. As students move through poses, they can reference their reflections and improve their alignment or facial expression accordingly. Additional classes include kickboxing, Zumba, cardio dance, Pilates, and belly dancing.
At Joe’s Music & Dance Academy, students of all ages benefit from expert instruction in a variety of instruments and dance styles. Teachers lead private lessons for instruments that range from piano and violin to guitar, bass, drums, voice, and most orchestral instruments. For aspiring Astaires, dance instructors helm programs for students of all ages in disciplines such as ballet, jazz and hip-hop, tap dance, and musical theater. Joe’s also offers students myriad opportunities to collaborate and perform together in the form of music and dance recitals, jazz ensembles, and workshops.
If visitors to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens forget their cameras, they can just buy one of the photo-drenched calendars featuring lush, verdant shots by Antonio M. Rosario. One of the two professional shutterbugs behind Switch to Manual, Rosario harnesses his 25 years in the photography business to capture striking pictures throughout the Big Apple, from sun-dappled angel statues in a cemetery to candids of shoppers in Chinatown. Along with Switch to Manual co-owner Tom Martinez, he also leads hands-on workshops, arming students with the skills to take inimitable pictures using manual camera controls, which prevent cameras from only photographing other cute cameras.