The Miami branch of the Società Dante Alighieri was founded in 1997, more than a century after the society was founded in Rome. Its aim is to celebrate Italian culture and serve as a social hub for Italians. Working in tandem with its principle partner, the Consulate General of Italy in Miami, the society hosts language courses—including Italian, Portuguese, and Latin—and doles out PLIDA Italian proficiency exams and certificates. In addition, they offer cooking and wine classes that teach students how to concoct regional Italian specialties and appreciate the differences between Italian wine and tomato sauce served in wineglasses.
There are plenty of ways to learn?reading a book, listening to an audio tape, or watching an instructional video, to name a few. Effective as those methods are for some, for others, they are too impersonal. That's where Face to Face Cooking Club comes in. Here, teachers lead enriching cooking classes, sharing with budding chefs the skills needed to cook the cuisine of many international cultures. The club also offers intensive Spanish programs that cover all four language-related skills?writing, speaking, reading, and listening?but focus especially on speaking, which enables students to communicate quickly instead of etching hieroglyphics into the wall.
At Little Chef’s kitchen, a talented cadre of kid-friendly instructors inspires and equips young bakers to whip up fresh eats. Parents can sign up their wee ones to experience firsthand the facility's mantra that a new repertoire of basic culinary skills not only fosters healthy eating habits, but bolsters tykes’ confidence, teaches teamwork, and develops motor skills. The classroom beckons young learners with pale yellow walls punctuated by floor-to-ceiling chalkboards and cheerful polka-dot patterns. Instructors happily work with parents to mold classes that suit kids’ eating habits and chewing styles, and even host movie and dinner nights to encourage family bonding.
To its modern-day students, Mariano Moreno Culinary Institute looks much different today than when it debuted in Buenos Aires in 1963. Back then, the institute was simply called the Mariano Moreno Institute and it only offered journalism courses—the first school to do so in the Argentinean capital. That’s why its founder chose Mariano Moreno, the creator of Buenos Aires’ first newspaper, as the school’s namesake. The school eventually immigrated to Miami, where its instructors teach cooking instead of writing, and also has locations in Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela. They stick mostly to European cuisine—especially French, Italian, and Spanish—as well as regional American fare. Their curriculum includes certification courses in the culinary arts and patisserie and baking, as well as myriad cooking and baking classes for the general public.
Chef Reni Alves has always found herself amid the freshest foods. She grew up on a lush farm in Brazil before making her way to Johnson & Wales University to earn a culinary degree. Now, as head of Chef Reni Alves Catering, she puts her motto?"Make it happen"?into action by fusing fresh ingredients into multicultural spreads that feed parties big and small. At events, her food stations dish out everything from Moroccan tuna skewers to twice-baked truffle skin potatoes, and roving servers circulate trays of appetizers and general life advice.
In addition to her catering services, Chef Reni also shares her expertise during cooking classes, which mix a laid-back vibe with gourmet cuisine instruction. Participants learn to craft entrees and desserts in the style of Reni's cooking, producing family dinners that they can recreate at home.
Though classic drinks such as the old fashioned may once have reigned in the stately bars of Miami's art-deco hotels, today a high-energy club scene pushes bartenders to pour higher volumes of more sophisticated drinks—and yes, style counts. After slinging drinks in nightlife hot spots including the Clevelander South Beach, Gordon Eagerton launched Elite Bartending School to prepare cocktail craftsmen for today's Miami, eschewing outmoded techniques and rarely ordered drinks to focus on about 120 of South Beach's most-wanted libations.
Eagerton and his fellow instructors run the state-licensed school within Club Play, a 10,000-square-foot South Beach nightclub with three bars, eight wells, and six computer terminals, enabling hands-on practice for all levels of mixologists, from beginners to full-time professionals. The school supports its alumni by posting full-time job leads every week, and the quality of education has earned Elite Bartending School honors in Miami New Times’ Talk of the Town for three years running.