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.
Calling chef Daphne Cheng "inventive" is a bit of an understatement. Before each dinner service, she travels to the market that day to pick up seasonal vegetables. And when she gets back to the kitchen, she throws together tasty, vibrant dishes without following a recipe. She's even created a unique venue to showcase her culinary skills—Suite Threeohsix.
The vegetable-focused fine-dining supper club in a Tribeca loft gathers together a maximum of 16 diners for dinner several times a month. Guests sip wine and mingle with strangers while watching Cheng cook behind a glass wall. The intimate dinners routinely sell out, according to an article in Well+Good, which called Cheng's food "inventive, beautiful, and delicious." But that's not surprising for a chef who has listed clients such as Vera Wang, Alec Baldwin, and Lea Michele on her resume.
Cheng also uses her Suite Threeohsix space to host cooking classes, where she teaches students everything from knife basics to gluten-free baking. For her students who come with absolutely no cooking knowledge, her How to Boil Water class explains which angle to hold the magnifying glass against the kitchen window.
Simon Herfray, a French native hailing from the Vendée region, is a master's-degree-certified pastry chef and baker. He's whisked and sculpted fine treats for esteemed establishments in the London and New York culinary scenes—Aubaine and Bluebird in South Kensington, Falai and Café M Studio in Manhattan, and Bacchus Bistro and La Défense Bistro in Brooklyn.
At French'Encas, Simon directs his world-class sweetmeat techniques toward kitchens full of apron-wearing students and in-disguise dentists. Whether it's their first or hundredth time gripping pastry bags and whisks, attendees handcraft their very own macarons, chocolate-lemon tarts, chocolate fondant, and full quiche lorraine meals. Some classes cater to advanced students, some cover basics, and others suit all skill levels. And when not instructing students, Simon and his team whip up treats for parties and other events.
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.