Inspired by her Polish grandmother’s culinary skills, the owner of Enjoy To Cook launched a menu-planning service featuring recipes for comforting, sumptuous Eastern European cuisine. Subscribers receive seven recipes each week, including main courses, salads, soups, and desserts. Each recipe comes with an easy-to-follow grocery list that makes shopping trips quick and efficient, leaving more time to stir pots of creamy white borscht or bake Polish poppy-seed rolls at home.
Though chef Nadege Fleurimond was once forced to stretch her culinary creativity as a contestant on Food Network's Chopped, she experiments in the kitchen every day. Her menus blend a unique array of American, French, Italian, Latin, and Caribbean recipes into dishes for all on- and off-camera occasions. Her culinary teams follow her instructions to build international entrees and desserts, passed appetizers, and cocktails during festive buffets and lavish sit-down dinners.
When Chef Nadege and her staff aren’t traveling to events all over the East Coast, they host local group cooking lessons. These informal classes have taught guests to decorate cakes, simmer Thai curries, and cook traditional Caribbean dishes. They also host regular events, such as themed dinner parties and knitting circles using handmade pasta.
Most kids love cake, but not many of them turn their early mixing-bowl experiments into a lifelong art and passion. That's what owner Ingrid H. has done at Cakalicious Cakes, where she applies an exuberant spirit and a gift for elaborate decorations to treats ranging from mini cupcakes to five-tier wedding cakes.
She pays just as much attention to the flavors of course. Cupcakes come in teasing flavors such as Peach Bellini and Bailey's, which get crowned by buttercream, cream-cheese, or fruit toppings. Larger cakes conceal other fillings such as chocolate hazelnut or dulce-de-leche caramel between their layers. Her large menu of options doesn't prevent her from constantly seeking out new recipes—and these days, she has three kids of her own to help as taste-testers.
Inside the kitchen of TriniSoul, students get the opportunity to face down the scotch bonnet—a lantern-shaped pepper that smolders with 50 times more heat than a jalapeño. The heavy-duty pepper is just one of the extraordinary ingredients introduced to students by Chef D, a Caribbean native who holds court during cooking classes that center around the recipes she grew up enjoying. Her foray into culinary instruction started as a few simple classes on the cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago, but her teaching style developed a rabid following, and Chef D's curriculum has grown to cover many types of Caribbean cuisine as well as American-style soul fare. More than 6,000 students have enrolled in Chef D's classes, which can accommodate groups of up to 24 in TriniSoul's kitchen as well as private instruction in one's own kitchen or properly equipped subway car.
Chef Onique Oliver is no stranger to high-profile clientele. She catered a meal for Mariah Carey’s wedding party in the ’90s (Michael Jackson was in attendance), prepared a meal for the 50th anniversary of a prominent New York senator, and once held the post of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s signature caterer. But at Shepsmeri's Kitchen, her clientele consists solely of students. Through private and public cooking classes, she introduces her pupils to seasonally inspired dishes packed with local ingredients. The classes welcome both master chefs and first-time cooks.
Choc-Oh-Lot Plus's artistic confectioners sweeten up kitchen repertoires with a two-hour course in cookie decorating. With an instructor's step-by-step guidance, students handcraft seasonally shaped sugar cookies adorned with frosting to transform treats into Halloween pumpkins, Thanksgiving turkeys, and Labor Day W-2 forms. Utilizing a squeezable pastry bag, hands top cookies with royal icing, learning the tricks needed to craft aesthetically pleasing batches of sugary shapes. Take-home recipes encourage patrons to continue practicing at home, so they can eventually fashion treats in themes as diverse as Inspector Gadget's rolodex of mechanics. Students should bring their own containers to take their cookies home in.