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With its gleaming marble demonstration counter, wooden cabinets topped with carved grapevines, and overhead televisions, the teaching kitchen at Nothing To It! Culinary Center would look perfectly at home on a film set. Instead, it sets the stage for the school’s master chefs to share the secrets to baking a flaky, golden pie crust or simmering a fragrant Moroccan stew with more than 500 students each month. Under the helm of Culinary Director, Chef Lara Ritchie, a graduate of New England Culinary Institute in Essex, Vermont, expert gourmands constantly add new hands-on and demonstration classes to their already encyclopedic schedule. Budding Boyardees hoping for a comprehensive approach can take the eight-level techniques series, which starts with knife skills and finishes with advanced techniques such as rendering an emulsified aioli or soft-boiling an egg with telekinesis. Pupils interested in more specific, contained lessons join hot-topic sessions, which delve into gluten-free cooking or sausage making, or international classes that explore Lebanese cuisine’s spices or Spain’s rustic charcoal-fired meats. Over the holidays, the 6,000-square-foot center fills with apprentices who learn to craft seasonal edibles such as truffles or gingerbread houses.
Nothing To It! also feeds visitors feasts they don’t have to cook. Its Napa Valley–style Gourmet Deli layers sandwiches with lavish ingredients such as imported cambozola-cheese pesto and flavors salads with creamy curried-mango chutney.