At Young Chefs Academy’s long, stainless-steel counter, diminutive cooks press their heads together, working sunshine-hued dough through a pasta roller or peering at recipes. The bank of ovens spills the scents of cooking sweets, and gaggles of young adults meander into teen classes, ready to gain culinary skills or bother a librarian by listening to blenders at maximum volume. Some weeks, the school concentrates on the recipes of a particular chef, with past sessions focusing on the works of Julia Child and Jamie Oliver. As holidays approach, the recipes turn towards the pumpkin-infused confections that define Halloween or the slow-roasted baskets traditionally eaten on Easter.
Serving central Pennsylvania for more than 37 years, The Kitchen Shoppe educates aspiring and experienced culinarians in a broad range of topics, many of which are hands-on. The spacious facility hosts hundreds of cooking classes every year, each taught by a professional chef or cookbook author. Upcoming demonstration classes include a collaboration between Victory Brewing Company and Chef Ryan Clay, where the chef will prepare beer-infused menu such as swordfish with sauteed shrimp in a Victory Prima Pils sauce ($59), and a From the Spring Kitchen Garden class ($59), where gardener and author David Hirsch will demonstrate Spring-themed recipes such as Provencal White Beans w/Aromatic Herbs & Fennel from his newest cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden Book. Hands-on courses invite home cooks to explore new cooking techniques, from preserving fruit ($39) and making potato and cheese-filled pierogies from scratch ($49), to learning baking basics and creating themed meals such as the I’ve Got the Blues dinner, which sates cerulean-seeking stomachs with blue corn crab cakes, cilantro blue cheese slaw, and braised blue suede shoes ($59). With class sizes limited to 32–50 people, all participants have the opportunity to ask questions of the knowledgeable staff, request guidance from friendly instructors, or just share their custom-airbrushed R2-D2 apron with fellow space opera epicureans.
Years ago, Joyce Nichols suffered a loss that triggered emotional overeating, leaving her 30 pounds overweight. Thanks to her professional background in fitness, she knew that she needed a weight-loss plan healthier than a crash diet, a dependence on supplements, or a resolution to carry a set of fun-house mirrors around with her at all times. So she started developing a set of recipes reminiscent of her grandmother's comforting cooking, yet lighter and rich in fat-burning ingredients. She put a bikini in her kitchen to remind her of her weight-loss goal.
Today, a trimmed-down Joyce shares the knowledge she's gleaned at her studio, The Bikini Kitchen, during classes that are part nutrition lesson and part motivational coaching. Groups prepare four-course dinners of brunch menus, learning to make dishes such as coconut-encrusted chicken with sweet dill sauce, heirloom-tomato bruschetta, or fried chicken. Joyce's kitchen is cozy yet spacious, with warm-hued cabinets, wood floors, and separate stations to accommodate guests with nut allergies.
Aiming to make exotic cooking an approachable feat for even the least experienced chef, Let's Cultivate Food employs friendly chefs who perform culinary magic in private kitchens, traveling up to 25 miles from Conshohocken, Philadelphia (extra fee for highway tolls, bridges, and city parking) to your home. With a variety of themed menus to choose from—including sushi-making, exotic stir-fried rice, and soups—cooking-party hosts can set their food preferences before a duo of chefs arrives with all the necessary fresh ingredients. Participants then learn to cook dishes, such as Pad Thai or BLT spring rolls, before enjoying each dish in the comfort of their homes and the familiar grooves of a favorite chair.