At Young Chefs Academy’s long, stainless-steel counter, diminutive cooks press their heads together, working sunshine-hued dough through a pasta roller or peering at recipes. The bank of ovens spills the scents of cooking sweets, and gaggles of young adults meander into teen classes, ready to gain culinary skills or bother a librarian by listening to blenders at maximum volume. Some weeks, the school concentrates on the recipes of a particular chef, with past sessions focusing on the works of Julia Child and Jamie Oliver. As holidays approach, the recipes turn towards the pumpkin-infused confections that define Halloween or the slow-roasted baskets traditionally eaten on Easter.
Serving central Pennsylvania for more than 37 years, The Kitchen Shoppe educates aspiring and experienced culinarians in a broad range of topics, many of which are hands-on. The spacious facility hosts hundreds of cooking classes every year, each taught by a professional chef or cookbook author. Upcoming demonstration classes include a collaboration between Victory Brewing Company and Chef Ryan Clay, where the chef will prepare beer-infused menu such as swordfish with sauteed shrimp in a Victory Prima Pils sauce ($59), and a From the Spring Kitchen Garden class ($59), where gardener and author David Hirsch will demonstrate Spring-themed recipes such as Provencal White Beans w/Aromatic Herbs & Fennel from his newest cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden Book. Hands-on courses invite home cooks to explore new cooking techniques, from preserving fruit ($39) and making potato and cheese-filled pierogies from scratch ($49), to learning baking basics and creating themed meals such as the I’ve Got the Blues dinner, which sates cerulean-seeking stomachs with blue corn crab cakes, cilantro blue cheese slaw, and braised blue suede shoes ($59). With class sizes limited to 32–50 people, all participants have the opportunity to ask questions of the knowledgeable staff, request guidance from friendly instructors, or just share their custom-airbrushed R2-D2 apron with fellow space opera epicureans.
Skilled cake decorators and sugar manipulators lead classes at Mother of Cakes, teaching at-home bakers how to create lavish desserts for special occasions. Some of their sweet and savvy talents have landed them televised appearances on Cake Boss, Food Network Challenge, and Shipping Wars. Their students tackle hands-on sessions that range in subject matter, from cake fundamentals for beginners to advanced courses that teach budding artists how to mold whimsical creations such as edible shoes.