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.
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.
At Ridgewood Culinary Studio, small class sizes and a playful, hands-on approach to cooking empower students of all ages to confidently make meals from scratch. In addition to teaching youngsters basic skills such as kitchen safety and how to get out of dishwashing duty, instructors inspire adult gourmands with classes on grilling, barbecuing, and other types of cuisine. Regardless of the class or age group, instructors emphasize mindful eating habits and nutritious recipes. The commercial kitchen also plays host to summer camps, birthday parties, and business-building classes.
Le Gourmet Factory is a 6,000-square-foot culinary haven, encompassing seven new professional-grade kitchens?some of which are decked out in chrome, and some cloaked in electric yellow. Though they look flashy, their main purpose is function, as they are designed with input from renowned chefs and stocked with top-of-the-line tools and Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances. Here, a team of top-notch professional chefs teaches fledgling cooks their trade in a variety of cooking classes. They lead guests in making pasta, whisking stellar sauces, and creating truffles without ever venturing into a dark and scary chocolate forest. Many classes focus on creating healthy or gluten-free eats, or cover themes such as Girls Night Out and Cooking with Dad. In addition to classes, the school hosts parties and corporate events, and the facility has an IKEA-designed lounge for relaxing before or after classes and events.
Located in the East Village, Bhagavat Life thrusts its doors open to welcome passersby pursuing healthy living through vegetarian dining and the ancient Ayurvedic holistic healing tradition. An Indian form of alternative medicine, Ayurveda is the practice of balancing five physical elements––earth, water, fire, air, and sky––to fuel the body and nurture a long, healthy life. Onsite chefs implement the nutritional and bio-energetic value of pure ingredients into their culinary and food-fight skills, delivering prepared wellness meals to customers' homes throughout the week.
During cooking classes, chefs trained in Ayurvedic dining help newly minted cooks prepare four-course meals with a variety of vegetarian items and raw or gluten- and dairy-free victuals. Adding to the cultural exploration, the center's resident Sanskirt poetry expert, Divya Alter, teaches a Sanskrit chanting workshop, in which she explores the musical, spiritual, and technical aspects of the bhakti texts.
Trays of creamy gelato beckon from beneath glass at Mia Chef Gelateria, a dessert destination that takes pride in its inventive flavors and presentation. Centuries-old traditions and unique ingredients weave together to form a gourmet spread, from sicilian pistachio to spirit-infused fig and tequila to chocolate whiskey truffle. The café bakes its own pastries and brews espresso and coffee from Chicago’s Intelligentsia roasters to accompany the indulgent treats. The gelato masters also share their art in two-hour classes, highlighted in the New York Post as well as the café's family newsletter.
Baker Amy Noelle, featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides magazine, and the Style network, crafts exquisitely decorated cakes adorned in her signature realistic sugar flowers. Most of the bakery’s ingredients are supplied by Amy's agriculturally inclined friends in Upstate New York, who she enlists in forming seasonal flavors that incorporate honey harvested from NYC apiaries and fresh fruit grown in Cooks Falls. Sharing her wealth of baking knowledge, she hosts two-hour classes in which clients can learn the artistry of baking artfully decorated cakes or sophisticated sugar flowers, which can be replanted in your garden to prank bees.