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.
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.
At Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center, founder Nissa Pierson leads hands-on courses that not only instruct budding culinarians how to cook, but help to ignite ingredient love affairs. Insisting on fresh spices, Pierson helps instill students with an appreciation of cultural cuisines, herbal heritage, and food-based folklore. Individual adult courses focus on roasting succulent lambs, spooning soul-soothing soups and stews, and hand-finagling fresh pastas and sauces. Cultivate cactus-fruit-lime tequila coolers, jamaican-jerk pulled-pork tacos, fresh-made salsa, and more in Nissa's Taqueria. Kids' cooking courses let wee ones dabble in culinary creativity, master rare, real-world applications of math, and vehemently deny the origin story of pizza. Age groups 3–5, 6–12, and 13–17 can don adorably oversized chef hats and learn to craft foodstuffs from donuts to whole roasted chickens. Ger-Nis' state-of-the-art kitchen features exposed brick, rich woods, and 14-foot ceilings tall enough for dough-spinners to perfect their finesse and cake architects to attempt to refute Newton and fail deliciously.
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.
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.