Young Chefs Academy's seasoned and kid-minded instructors create a safe, interactive learning environment for budding epicureans ages 3–15 to develop a knowledge of food preparation in a smorgasbord of scheduled classes. In the Kindercooks program, children ages 3–5 eschew their bulb ovens and Play-Doh beef wellington recipes to learn the fundamental culinary language of the kitchen alongside their parents. Older students don puffed white hats and aprons for the Junior and Senior Chef courses, delving into monthly themes such as this October's spooky Halloween theme. Past gourmands have learned how to prepare refined alsatian quiches and homemade fudgesicles. Instructors inspire their students to think about everything involved in bringing ingredients to the table, from food preparation to kitchen safety and menu planning. Aspiring sous chefs also enhance their math, reading, and science skills as they measure out ingredients, follow recipes, and put Einstein's theory of handless spatula flipping to the test.
At Whisked Away, each three-hour, hands-on cooking class operates under the spicy eye of chef Maggie Norris, who worked with mega-chefs Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse, among others, during a post-culinary-school stint at the Food Network. Now cooking in the comforts of her home-style kitchen, Maggie conducts each lesson by progressing from recipe discussion to comprehensive prep time, leaving enough time at the end for a sit-down celebration of all pupil-prepared eats. The calendar currently includes themes such as “Cuban Influenced Dinner” on September 16, “Elegant Dinner Party Menu” on September 21, and “A Taste of New Orleans” on September 30. All ingredients, utensils, cookware, and hankies for mopping away tears of joy are provided.
Stan and Brenda Strom have more than just dessert recipes decorating their kitchen—although of those, they have hundreds. They also hold multiple blue ribbons from state fairs, with celebrated sweets including a coconut-custard macadamia-nut pie, a dark-chocolate raspberry glacier pie, and a maple-pecan cheesecake, as well as many others. Their beloved business, Blue Ribbon Desserts, got an extra boost toward stardom when it was featured on FoodNation with Bobby Flay.
Chef Strom shares his confectionary skills in multiple ways. He bakes seasonal fruit pies, cheesecakes, and cookies fresh to order and ships them across the United States. He also reveals 60 of his favorite recipes in the Blue Ribbon Cookbook, which is said to smell like freshly churned butter during full moons. And in order to grant fans intimate access to his baking ways, he conducts monthly classes that empower students to create their own pies for family members and friends.
The Sylvester family had bartending in its blood. Whether it was Uncle Mickey holding court with 40 years' worth of regulars or Tony Sr. mixing one of his signature Skip and Go Nakeds, they exemplified the easy grace and no-nonsense craftsmanship found in a true barman's barman. That dedication to well-poured drinks carried over to Tony Jr., who has spent the last 35 years training mixologists nationwide through the curriculum of his ABC Bartending Schools. Taught behind fully functional bars, his courses educate students in topics ranging from drink recipes and equipment setup to flair moves and alcohol awareness. His schools also emphasize employment; after graduation, students can take advantage of a nationwide job placement service to land gigs in Miami nightclubs, Las Vegas casinos, or the bar cars of Chicago's El trains.
Taras Slipka brings something unique to the cakes that he crafts and decorates: an art degree. Drawing from training in Europe, Slipka uses his subtle, classically trained touch to transform delectable French-style pastries into stunning masterpieces. Dozens of styles and flavors cater to any occasion requiring a formally decorated pastry, from weddings to anniversaries to birthdays. Leaving the actual baking and cake construction out, Slipka's decoration classes use fake cakes. This allows pupils to focus solely on the frosting application, creating lifelike calla lilies or roses, perfect for training your dog to devour your nemesis’s flower garden.
Crème de la Crème provides a fun night of culinary education that sheds boring PowerPoint presentations on allumette and julienne cuts in favor of hands-on learning. An experienced and enthusiastic cook, Crème de la Crème helmswoman Hannah sharpened her culinary cunning by cooking in her grandmother's kitchen at an early age and later as a personal chef. At a Crème de la Crème class, students can mingle and socialize with fellow foodies while learning how to cook dishes with the dexterity of an eight-armed samurai. They’ll also get to taste their creations and take home the products to impress friends, family, and visiting satellite-dish installers. Classes are available in several topics, such as crêpes, heart healthy, eco-friendly, and brinner (breakfast for dinner).