The Practical Chef schools fledgling foodies in an approachable environment with the added benefit of certified executive chef Craig Nassar's years of gourmet know-how. Hands-on classes ($65¬–$90) include all necessary ingredients and equipment—saving you the trouble of transporting your industrial-grade meat tenderizer by city bus—and offer a delightful repertoire of beginner and intermediate techniques open to all experience levels. Basic Cooking Techniques gets newbies up to speed on the nitty-gritty of browning meats, whipping up sauces, cooking grains, roasting root vegetables, and cooking leafy greens, while the katana-sharp Knife Skills class trains slicing sempais to mince, dice, and julienne with dignity and honor. Upcoming tutorials include pasta workshops, where students learn to fashion a variety of fresh noodles and seasonal sauces from scratch—an ethereal substance made from leprechaun hair, comet dust, and the residue of one’s first kiss. The Enticing Tapas class, meanwhile, covers an array of small plates provocative enough to inspire even the most bashful schoolmarm to flamenco her way across the gas range. At the end of each class, ravenous students get to feed on their freshly prepared meal before toting the recipes home for later replication.
At 2 CupCakes, master icing-wielders saturate the minds of would-be cake charmers with their baking expertise, transforming them into fully baked decorating machines. During each 90-minute frost-a-thon, sprinkle scholars will be provisioned with the necessary cake-based accouterments to artfully bedizen two naked cupcakes, which can be devoured on the spot, or cryogenically frozen to the delight of future museum curators. While today's deal nets individual buyers two separate classes, Groupon holders in groups of six or more can schedule private decorating parties in their own home. Check out upcoming class dates before devouring your Fabergé egg collection in order to make room for your new edible works of art.
Drum & Drummer instructor Erik Truelove knows how to improvise. When the country-rocker and four-time winner of the National Association of Music Merchants' World's Most Accurate Drummer title found himself at a TV gig with no cymbals, he simply pulled the license plates off his car and attached them to his kit, he reported to the Tucson Citizen in 2009. This spirit of flexibility and quick thinking is something he passes along to his students in both group and private lessons. Other instructors—all working musicians—join in that goal backed by expertise in hand drumming, R&B grooves, jazz improvisation, and competitive marching percussion.
To mark progress and keep motivation levels kicking, the school uses a program of Truelove's own devising. Modeled on karate's belt system, sets of colored drumsticks provide a vivid reminder of the skills students have conquered. To advance in rank, they must master their level's set of grooves, fills, and concepts, then perform a predetermined song at the school's performance center. Class sizes are typically capped at 10 students to ensure lots of one-on-one assistance and keep the downstairs neighbors from constantly calling the cops with noise complaints.
Stitching costumes, choreographing dance routines, composing scores, painting backdrops, channeling inner thespians: in the theater, there's a job for everyone. The staff of theater, music, and dance aficionados at Troubadour Theatre helps kids find their own onstage or backstage niche during classes that culminate in a full-scale production. Past performances have included Twelfth Night and Seussical!, both of which gave students the opportunity to showcase acting skills developed through lessons in improv and theater history. Outside the theater walls, the Troubadour staff strives to provide artistic opportunities for local kids by creating artist-in-residency programs and funding scholarships for talented youth.
With more than 30 years of artistic experience and 23 years of teaching experience, Mariah Clearwater brings plenty of knowledge to her pottery-making classes at Clearwater Creations. She keeps class sizes small so that she can provide participants the individual attention they need to create a tangible piece of art they’re proud of. Artists of all skill levels practice hand-building techniques before putting the finishing touch on their pieces with a glaze. Some of Mariah’s own creations, such as handcrafted cremation urns, stoneware pottery, and oil paintings, can be purchased from the artist herself.