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.
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.
Inside the kitchen of Marcello’s, teardrop chandeliers cast their warm gaze over copper cookware and a dining table that wraps around the stove. Here, Chef Marcello sheds light on the techniques of preparing Italian cuisine during cooking classes and private parties. In such events, up to 12 guests can sip wine while he picks recipes secretly stored in his chef’s hat and demonstrates how to assemble artful dishes, which may include risotto with chicken and spinach or pasta with fresh tomato mozzarella and basil. Although the private dining experience is the easiest way to witness Chef Marcello’s passion for sharing the cuisine of his native Italy, guests can also enjoy his dynamic entrees without front-row seats at the chef’s table. In the restaurant’s dining room, floor-to-ceiling murals depict the Tuscan countryside and ferns adorn honey-colored walls as diners anticipate hearty meals. Atop crisp white tablecloths, servers present platters of housemade pastas and veal prepared seven ways. The knowledgeable staff is also happy to recommend pairings from the vast Italian wine list.
Chef Central equips seasoned ingredient slingers and aspiring culinarians alike with kitchen essentials including cutlery, cooking tools, and quirky gadgets, earning the crown of Best of Westchester in 2010 by Westchester magazine. Breakfast champions can transform eggs into palatable packages by snagging a pair of silicone poach pods ($9.99) that float the yolky goodness in boiling water like a canoeist in a volcano until it’s perfectly cooked. The metal teeth of a corn-zipper ($15.99) scrape kernels clean from their cob residence, and a nonskid mincer ($17.99) safely slices onions into ribbons and saves tears from spilling. Behind acrylic safety shields, the glistening guillotine of a bagel biter ($19.99) spits out equal halves of doughy rations, and the olive stuffer ($19.99) plunges into pitted olives to produce flavor-detonating hors d'oeuvres for a retirement party of a revered spoon. Additionally, mincing mess sergeants sharpen a pair of knives until their edges are as honed as razors, which may take up to five days to complete.
Le Gourmet Factory is a culinary haven, encompassing seven 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 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.