Under the culinary guidance of chef Rayon Howard, students sear, chop, and sauté fresh ingredients into tantalizing dishes with Aura Catering Services. For more than a dozen years, Howard has crafted flavorful cuisine for restaurants, hotels, and private caterers. He now brings his expertise and recipes to special events throughout Miami. Chef Ray also shares his knowledge with aspiring chefs during two-and-a-half-hour cooking classes, which rotate according to participant demand, allowing students to hone their kitchen know-how with a stainless-steel arsenal of cookware, myriad ingredients, and the mystical ability to transmute fire into cooked food. Pupils can tackle global gastronomy by exploring cuisine such as bite-sized Spanish-style tapas or robust Italian-inspired pasta. At the end of each class, students can sample their newfound skills by enthusiastically devouring their work, a luxury not afforded by other artistic disciplines, as evidenced by Rodin's painful attempts to eat The Thinker.
There are plenty of ways to learn?reading a book, listening to an audio tape, or watching an instructional video, to name a few. Effective as those methods are for some, for others, they are too impersonal. That's where Face to Face Cooking Club comes in. Here, teachers lead enriching cooking classes, sharing with budding chefs the skills needed to cook the cuisine of many international cultures. The club also offers intensive Spanish programs that cover all four language-related skills?writing, speaking, reading, and listening?but focus especially on speaking, which enables students to communicate quickly instead of etching hieroglyphics into the wall.
Maria T. Cummins was already an established chef when she moved to Miami and began teaching an after-school cooking program for children. Struck by how little her students knew about nutrition, she founded The Real Food Academy?formerly Cooking With Kids Miami?to instill healthy eating habits in her young apprentices. Here, she and her fellow skilled instructors lead classes and activities based around one simple philosophy: "we don't change the dish, we change the ingredients." During group sessions, birthday parties, and camps, Chef Maria and her team teach youngsters how to choose and prepare more nutritious, "real" foods, ensuring they avoid meals that are high in preservatives, chemicals, and plastic grapes. Non-edible offerings, such as spa days and kid-centric Zumba classes, promote healthy lifestyles.
Though their end products are as convenient?if not more?as commonplace frozen dinners, the chefs at Bring Organics Back render convenience healthy by freshly preparing each meal with nutrient-packed, natural ingredients. To keep sodium and sugar levels low, they make every element of the meal from scratch, even sauces and crinoline toothpicks. They design dishes around in-season fruits and vegetables, yielding both high-variety and high-flavor dishes such as pineapple jerk tilapia and a steak and vegetable quesadilla. Once the day?s lunches and dinners are fully cooked, the team packages them into single portions and delivers them to workplaces and homes.
Technicolor liqueurs stream from bottles and shakers as 786-Bartend infuses the brains of students with 80-proof knowledge. Workshops for intro and advanced mixology—developed by founder Isaac Ergas—begin with international history lessons on the origin and evolution of the modern cocktail. Then barkeeps expound on the spirited synergies of high-quality liquors and common drink ingredients and share veteran bar-backing tips, such as how to open drink umbrellas in a windstorm. Prospective bartenders can opt to complete the 40-hour bartending course, which provides in-depth instruction on drink preparation and presentation, job-interview etiquette, and resumé construction. Taught onsite in an actual nightclub, 786-Bartend’s courses let students serve drinks to real customers who, like regular bar patrons, ignore last call and try to open tabs with library cards.
At Little Chef’s kitchen, a talented cadre of kid-friendly instructors inspires and equips young bakers to whip up fresh eats. Parents can sign up their wee ones to experience firsthand the facility's mantra that a new repertoire of basic culinary skills not only fosters healthy eating habits, but bolsters tykes’ confidence, teaches teamwork, and develops motor skills. The classroom beckons young learners with pale yellow walls punctuated by floor-to-ceiling chalkboards and cheerful polka-dot patterns. Instructors happily work with parents to mold classes that suit kids’ eating habits and chewing styles, and even host movie and dinner nights to encourage family bonding.