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.
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.
When wine awakens from its hibernation, patrons remove suspended yeast cells and skin particles though a process called racking. 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.
Karen Doman, the personal chef behind the scenes at Dishin' It, lends her expert hands to clients’ kitchens for a variety of services. As a personal chef, she consults with clients and helps them plan customized menus based on dietary needs and personal preferences. She takes care of all the shopping and cooking, and leaves dishes prepared in clients’ freezers with full instructions for reheating. Karen also plans dinner parties, romantic meals, and private cooking classes, using her knowledge as a French Culinary Institute graduate to teach customers how to prepare mouth-watering dishes such as ratatouille, poached pears in caramel sauce, and halibut with shrimp and scallops served over risotto.
Chef Chanelle Watson has a talent that most superheroes would envy: she can turn liquids into (delicious) solids. At Chanelle's Heavenly Treasures, some of her most popular desserts are liquor-infused cakes and cupcakes, all of which are inspired by cocktails. The Patron cupcake, for example, features a tequila-infused cake and tequila frosting, and is garnished with a slice of lime. Other intoxicating concoctions include a Hennessey and Coke variant—decorated with Hennessey-infused chocolate buttercream and drizzled with a Coca Cola reduction—and mimosa, made with a Grand Marnier and champagne-infused orange cake, and topped with Grand Marnier buttercream and crystalized sugar.
These cocktail cupcakes might seem ultra-modern, but Chanelle's baking style skews traditional. She makes all of her gourmet desserts from scratch—that means no added preservatives, stabilizers, or dust from a sugar plum fairy's wings. The only extra ingredient added is a personalized touch, whether it's a sorority logo on a cake pop or your favorite type of cookie in an edible bouquet. And for custom orders, Chanelle always schedules a dessert planning session with her clients, and follows up with them after they've received—and devoured—their confections.
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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.