At Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center, founder Nissa Pierson leads hands-on courses that not only instruct budding culinarians how to cook, but help to ignite ingredient love affairs. Insisting on fresh spices, Pierson helps instill students with an appreciation of cultural cuisines, herbal heritage, and food-based folklore. Individual adult courses focus on roasting succulent lambs, spooning soul-soothing soups and stews, and hand-finagling fresh pastas and sauces. Cultivate cactus-fruit-lime tequila coolers, jamaican-jerk pulled-pork tacos, fresh-made salsa, and more in Nissa's Taqueria. Kids' cooking courses let wee ones dabble in culinary creativity, master rare, real-world applications of math, and vehemently deny the origin story of pizza. Age groups 3–5, 6–12, and 13–17 can don adorably oversized chef hats and learn to craft foodstuffs from donuts to whole roasted chickens. Ger-Nis' state-of-the-art kitchen features exposed brick, rich woods, and 14-foot ceilings tall enough for dough-spinners to perfect their finesse and cake architects to attempt to refute Newton and fail deliciously.
John Gizzi and Diann Greco, the American Wine Society–certified wine judges at Make Wine With Us, teach wine aficionados to create their own wines using grapes harvested in Californian and Chilean vineyards. At the start of the nine-month process (California grapes in the fall, Chile grapes in the spring), winemakers-to-be assemble with fellow enthusiasts to learn the intricacies of the trade. Patrons learn to crush and destem grapes in a machine called a crusher-destemmer, named after the device's favorite Germanic metal band. Following the crushing process, a hydraulic press forces juice into barrels, where it shall remain until the conclusion of its sweet, sweet metamorphosis.
When wine awakens from its hibernation, patrons remove suspended yeast cells and skin particles though a process called racking. At the end of the nine-month period, newly minted winemakers lean on family and friends to fill, cork, and custom-label the finished product. Budding vintners then tote home their vintages to share with family, friends, and robot butlers with built-in carafes.
Good-Life Gourmet’s is a case study in multitasking. In its open kitchen, Chef Eric, an alum of the French Culinary Institute, routinely fries his signature falafel, teaches his cooking techniques to budding chefs, and prepares gourmet catering spreads. Although Chef Eric accomplishes a lot when he’s working, he maintains a fun, light-hearted environment, playing whimsical pranks on his coworkers, who include his three brothers and a team of local high-school students.
At Good-Life’s sandwich shop, a rotating menu gives palates the royal treatment with the aforementioned falafel, sliced-steak wraps, and butter-poached lobster rolls. Meanwhile, the kitchen’s BYOB cooking classes cover topics ranging from tapas to basic knife techniques, such as how to turn two meat cleavers into a huge pair of scissors. The culinary team tailors its catering feasts to each event, and pours its remaining creativity into the pop-up restaurant, Restaurant Maize, open occasionally in locations throughout the city.
The diverse team of instructors at Key Element Learning are serious about catering to each of their students' unique interests, strengths, and needs, whether they're still in diapers or entering middle school. That's why their educational programs are so eclectic—the classes range from academic subjects such as reading and science to the more creative topics of art and cooking to ensure kids will find a class to spark their curiosity. In order to give students the best lessons possible, they also pull from popular, time-honored educational franchises such as The Language Workshop for Children, where native speakers immerse children in foreign languages through games, songs, and colorful visual aids. And Music Together instills babies, toddlers, and preschoolers with skills for singing in tune and keeping a beat, helping them build confidence at school or become the first infant drummer for U2.
Lambert Epperly, founder and owner of National Bartenders School, oversees the progress of each of his school's students, and provides individual advice and adjustments from their first class through graduation. His bartending gurus pass on their knowledge and techniques in a custom-designed cocktail-lounge classroom, engaging students in hands-on training behind a 40-foot-long, fully stocked bar. These experienced instructors lead a 40-hour certificate program and other seminars in both English and Spanish, tailoring class times around students' work and crime-fighting schedules. For extended courses, they provide a bartending textbook spanning more than 200 drink formulas and detailing elements of the craft, such as types of glassware and customer-service practices. Licensed by the New Jersey Department of Education, the school keeps tuition low and connects its students with free job-placement assistance in local watering holes.
Let's Play in Italian exposes kids, young adults, and adults to the culture and language of Italy through engaging programs that range from preschool activities to conversational Italian classes. Tykes up to 8 years old sing songs, tell stories, play games, and put on puppet shows and craft fairs during afterschool programs and Mommy & Me workshops, absorbing Italian vocabulary during their formative years before gray matter turns angsty and taciturn. Parents and kids alike can expand their linguistic repertoire with colorful books, CDs, and DVDs from an online bookstore.