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.
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.
Culinary-romance expert Shani Delamor explores the links between food and love in classes that were named among the Seven Best Cooking Classes in New York and New Jersey by CBS New York. The Insatiable Italian class stimulates the senses with pizza margherita crostini garnished with fresh basil, a luscious pasta studded with chicken and peas, and a dark and spicy chocolate fondue that inspires creative uses such as playing tic-tac-toe on bed sheets. Alternatively, duos mimic a traditional French wedding meal by jointly preparing and nibbling on skinned salmon alongside roasted asparagus and pomegranate-poached pears.
Located in the East Village, Bhagavat Life thrusts its doors open to welcome passersby pursuing healthy living through vegetarian dining and the ancient Ayurvedic holistic healing tradition. An Indian form of alternative medicine, Ayurveda is the practice of balancing five physical elements––earth, water, fire, air, and sky––to fuel the body and nurture a long, healthy life. Onsite chefs implement the nutritional and bio-energetic value of pure ingredients into their culinary and food-fight skills, delivering prepared wellness meals to customers' homes throughout the week.
During cooking classes, chefs trained in Ayurvedic dining help newly minted cooks prepare four-course meals with a variety of vegetarian items and raw or gluten- and dairy-free victuals. Adding to the cultural exploration, the center's resident Sanskirt poetry expert, Divya Alter, teaches a Sanskrit chanting workshop, in which she explores the musical, spiritual, and technical aspects of the bhakti texts.
Jerome Chang, the mastermind behind the much-lauded DessertTruck, gave his desserts a grounded home at Cathcart & Reddy, a café on the Lower East Side that sells many of the truck’s wares while expanding its purview. Run by Chang and two pastry chefs, all credited in their New York magazine listing as Le Cirque school alumni, the truck was nominated for two Vendy Awards and received heavy attention in a New York Times feature on dessert trucks for gourmet sweets that include chocolate bread pudding, vanilla crème brûlée, and french macaroons. The café also sells pressed sandwiches with mellifluous fillings such as goat cheese with caramelized almonds, thyme, and apricot jam, or domestic serrano ham with manchego, roasted garlic, and pine nuts.
When not slinging sweets behind the counter, staffers can be found in the kitchen, baking new batches of desserts or hosting workshops for aspiring chefs. Scheduled every few days throughout each month, the classes teach patrons kitchen secrets such as how to craft perfect soufflés and macaroons or gauge a cook’s feelings by the color of his chef’s hat.