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 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.
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.
During the day, Trattoria Bel Paese Cooking Academy cuts a humble figure with its deli area bursting with grilled panini, fresh salads, and Italian hero sandwiches. By night, though, Chef George Joseph draws a curtain around the glass counter and, according to Teresa Politano of the Star-Ledger, this "unassuming little Clark Kent of a restaurant" sheds its eyeglasses to fight villainous hunger with a menu of authentic Sicilian and Italian specialties. Chef Joseph puts his international training to use for each meal, calling upon skills learned in London, Melbourne, and Italy itself to craft heaping portions of pastas with sweet red sauce and veal with cream sauce. Working with gluten-free and organic ingredients upon request, he also crafts platters of hot chicken parmigiana and fresh black mussels with marinara as part of Trattoria Bel Paese's catering team. But Chef Joseph doesn't limit his gifts to his own kitchen. He also educates the next generation of chefs during cooking classes, which combine fresh ingredients and simple Italian preparations into delicious, memorable at-home meals.
Knife Skills 101 is taught by Cuisine Inspirations owner, Scott Savokinas, a seasoned chef who relishes every aspect of the culinary craft. He'll teach you the safest and deftest ways to dice, slice, mince, and chop, putting meats and veggies in the savoriest shapes while shaving time and awkwardness off kitchen routines. While you learn to cut an onion without making it cry and grate garlic without triggering its earsplitting burglar alarm, the chef's friendly banter and helpful hints foster a comfortable, entertaining atmosphere. At the end of the class, students and chef partake in whichever dish was prepared during the demonstration.
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.