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.
A mother and her teenage daughter stand at the counter side-by-side, chop, chop, chopping in unison. Neither have cooked much with vegetables before, but under the friendly guidance of experts, they find their veggie phobias fading. This is a recurring theme within The Food Evolution's kitchen, where students learn to toss their culinary insecurities into the flames and begin having fun with meal prep.
At The Food Evolution, which Diane Hoch founded in 2010, students aged 16 and older learn from professional instructors how to create healthful, tasty, preservative-free meals. Classes highlight either techniques or styles of cuisine and vary in levels of participation—from demonstration classes where students observe and take notes, to hands-on courses in which students are required to touch everything with all 10 fingers. In private nutritional-counseling sessions, Diane, a certified nutritional-health counselor, tailors advice and programs to help individuals reach their health and wellness goals.
Chef Central's kitchenware emporium, awarded Best of Westchester in 2010 by Westchester Magazine, plants chefs amid 21,000 square feet of epicurean aids from all-purpose pots to highly specialized gadgets. Amateur foodies and hard-boiled professionals alike can browse aisle upon aisle of cutlery, books, cookware, and gadgets. Lighting on tasteful treasures such as the Cuisipro stainless steel olive oil mister ($15.99), great for healthful baking and weather-resistant hairstyling, or an OXO salad spinner ($29.99).
Classes at La Piazza di Carolina marinate students in the language and culture of Italy, preparing families for vacations abroad and instilling a foundation of bilingualism in young children. The cooking workshop invites pint-sized sous chefs to gather around the table of a kitchen classroom to learn basic Italian cooking terminology while crafting classic Italian dishes and conjugating verbs to a golden brown. Tiny aprons and toques transform apprentices into confident spaghetti slingers as they knead pizza dough, blend ricotta fillings, and craft tiramisu, all while learning Italian translations for ingredients and techniques. Parting gifts include the day’s recipes and Italian vocab flashcards made out of pizza.
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.