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.
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.
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.
Le Gourmet Factory is a 6,000-square-foot culinary haven, encompassing seven new 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 Wolf and Sub-Zero 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, and the facility has an IKEA-designed lounge for relaxing before or after classes and 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.