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.
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.
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.
Knife Skills 101 is taught by Cuisine Inspirations owner, Scott Savokinas, a seasoned chef who relishes every aspect of the culinary craft. He'll teach you the safest and deftest ways to dice, slice, mince, and chop, putting meats and veggies in the savoriest shapes while shaving time and awkwardness off kitchen routines. While you learn to cut an onion without making it cry and grate garlic without triggering its earsplitting burglar alarm, the chef's friendly banter and helpful hints foster a comfortable, entertaining atmosphere. At the end of the class, students and chef partake in whichever dish was prepared during the demonstration.
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.