Young Chefs Academy provides a fun, safe, and motivational environment for kids to become acquainted with food and food presentation. Engaging chefstructors instill lessons of kitchen etiquette and safety in youngsters, giving them a gourmet guidebook for their future journey into the land of food. Classes educate a variety of age groups; classes for the kindercooks and junior chefs let kids follow a recipe to edible fruition, creating a nutritional meal while mastering basic food-prep skills. Senior chefs are offered advanced classes that hone specific skills and techniques to expand the parameters of cooking creativity.
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.
Whether pursuing a life as a professional cook or a behind-the-scenes mover in culinary arts and restaurant management, the students at JNA Institute of Culinary Arts have honed their craft with professionalism and skill for more than 20 years. Students learn real-world lessons in a demanding professional setting, from running a kitchen to pleasing food critics with menus sung in four-part harmony. JNA shows off the fruits of these labors at its onsite restaurant, where the food is both prepared and served by students. The restaurant boasts a seasonal menu, gracing plates with items that have ranged from housemade gelato to cornmeal-dusted scallops.
The trained instructors at Gourmand Cooking School believe in learning by doing, a principle on which their hands-on cooking classes are based. More than 30 classes cover concepts such as basic knife skills and rolling sushi, as well as specific multicourse meals for two that feature indulgences such as mushroom risotto, seared steak with herb butter, and crème brûlée. Each class size is kept small, with about 8–15 students, so that they can enjoy learning a new skill in an intimate and communal environment.
At Grape Beginnings, passionate wine aficionado Frank D’Aponte splits his time between producing his own high-quality vintages and instructing others on how to do the same. Frank has a decade of winemaking experience under his belt; as a third-generation winemaker, grape juice runs through his veins. Frank has deepened his knowledge with extensive travel throughout the Napa and Sonoma valleys, studying under master winemakers such as James Allen of Sequoia Grove Vineyards. Novice vintners delve into every aspect of the process, including pressing fresh grapes from California, Chile, Italy, and Argentina, racking in oak barrels, and bottling with custom-made labels.
To help sugar artists of all skill levels take their desserts to new heights, Francesca Elmenshawy, owner of Francesca’s Cakery, joined accomplished cake designer Silvina Barboza to teach intensive baking courses. Though their 10- to 12-student classes range from Baking 101 to an intensive course held in Spanish, most of the lesson plans fall somewhere in the middle. Fondant classes, for instance, introduce the versatile cake-decorating and sculpting medium to cake decorators who prefer their art to be edible. A three-part series on gum-paste flowers targets lessons to specific skill levels, teaching beginners the basics of rolling and cutting material for the dessert flowers. The hands-on, accessible classes earned a mention on Food Babbles, a blog whose writer described the teacher as "a gracious hostess."