"If you make it, you will taste it" is the motto founders Julie Fabing Burleson and Suzy Vinson Nettles envisioned when they created Young Chefs Academy. In addition to giving youngsters hands-on exposure to culinary techniques, kitchen safety, eating etiquette, and table setting, the academy's philosophy ensures that kids like 10-year-old former veggie-hater Camille gain an appreciation for healthy homemade cuisine. With centers in more than 10 states, Young Chefs Academy enriches growing minds ages 3–18 with engaging cooking classes, camps, and birthday parties that impart valuable life skills, such as self-reliance and how to trick a younger sibling into doing the dishes.
Central Market cooking schools enlightens the epicurean masters of tomorrow with instruction from the gourmet gurus of today, having previously hosted guest instructors such as the renowned Cat Cora and Mario Batali. Meal mentors post classes in both Fort Worth and Southlake every four to six weeks, usually providing 26–30 options per month. Whether it's your first time holding a skillet or you're looking to polish your sushi skills after finally discovering how to uncook fish, Central Market provides coaching for every experience level. Curious foodies can peruse an array of informative options, including sharpening your knife skills ($55), making indulgent desserts ($45), creating vegetarian dinners ($55), and fine-tuning a soufflé filled with an event horizon. Running roughly 2.5 hours each, sessions are offered most days of the week. Most hands-on classes can accommodate about 18, while demonstration classes can accommodate up to 48, depending on location. See Central Market's frequently asked questions page for more information.
Jeri Kopecky baked her first cake with her mother in the kitchen of her family's home in Ennis, a city south of Dallas. Batter wasn't the only thing transformed by the heat of that oven, and after years of helping her mother decorate cakes for friends and neighbors, Jeri took it upon herself to make her passion her career. In 1998, she bought a cake shop, expanded its size to 4000 square feet, and leapt into business for herself. One short year later, her own daughter Kelli joined her in the baking business, and the pair now whip up multilayer bridal cakes and creative birthday cakes for their ever-growing neighborhood. Cake Carousel's ample kitchens also provide a venue for eager students to come and learn the decorating techniques that have twice been passed from mother to daughter. Basic classes teach everything from leveling batter to simple frosting-piping techniques, and students in advanced sessions sculpt complex sculptures out of fondant or learn the elements of design behind a cookie bouquet. Several instructors aid Jeri and Kelli in keeping their year-round calendar of classes running. Occasional guest and celebrity sugar artists—such as Lauren Kitchens, various Food Network chefs, or a peanut-flavored fondant sculpture of George Washington Carver—supplement the lineup with classes in their particular specialties. The candy and cookie store also offers supplies for cake, candy-making, and cookies such as gelatin, isomalt, fondant, and gum-paste.
Every graduate of The Premium Institute of Bartending Schools' 34-hour mixology program can count on one thing—being hired as an on-call bartender with Premium Event Staffing, a company that provides staff for private parties and corporate events. Like a pie-fight truce, this guarantee benefits everyone involved. Students get to earn income while they use the institute's job-placement services to find a steady gig at an affiliated bar or elsewhere. Premium Event Staffing in turn gets access to bartenders who have completed the mixology program and who know their way around a muddler.
The reason even the institute's most recent graduates are so comfortable behind a bar isn't that they're wearing footie pajamas under their clothes—it's that classes take place in such a realistic setting. Students work at a bar setup that includes bar guns, liquor bottles, and 14 types of glasses, and they learn to pour on a real draft-beer system. This hands-on approach also characterizes the four-hour introductory classes the school holds for people who wish to learn to make martinis, shots, frozen drinks, or other specialties.
Reenie's Passion for Pastries' eponymous cookie aficionado leads hands-on holiday baking tutorials at a beautiful 40-acre ranch. Up to eight students participate in the four-hour classes, each one creating their own different style of dessert-ready treats. Bakers depart with a bounty of at least three-dozen cookies, in varieties such as macadamia chocolate nut, fancy checkerboard, and Reenie's signature peanut-butter-triple-chip cookies. Sugar-cookie confections feature a special decorating lesson on how to craft icing artwork or endorse sheet-cake checks.
Don't be fooled by Hot Chocolates' name—the bakery focuses on more than one flavor. In fact, even the handcrafted chocolate candies come in more than 40 varieties, such as dipped Oreos, peanut-butter creams, and 12 types of truffles made from imported ingredients. The staff also bakes custom cakes in 35 flavors, including piña colada and devil's food. To personalize these desserts for special occasions such as parties, weddings, or breakfast, bakers top them with assorted icings and buttercreams. These creations once caused a customer to describe the patisserie as a place “where everything tastes as good as it looks,” which the business uses as its motivation to create new eye-catching delicacies. Hot Chocolates' bakers also teach the secrets behind many of their treats in group classes, during which students learn to decorate cookies and bake desserts.