Like learning to juggle, learning to cook requires patience, a distraction-free environment, and the ability to handle multiple eggplants at once. Become the ringmaster of your kitchen with today's Groupon: for $69, two people can enroll in a 2–3-hour cooking class at À la Carte Catering and Event Design in Haymarket, Virginia (a $138 value).
Kitchen novices learn to wield chefs’ knives without fear and convert mundane groceries into dazzling edibles in À la Carte’s hands-on, chef-taught classes. Couples can bat handmade nigiri and maki rolls back and forth with ping-pong paddles at Chef Chang’s Sushi and Sake class before enjoying complimentary sake and wine or ceremonially wrapping one another in seaweed. In the One Pot Wonders class, students cook two hearty dishes while learning about fish stews, jambalayas, and other single-pot meals. Classes enlighten 40–50 students at a time by introducing kitchen skills such as sautéing and chopping or gourmet cooking tips about making flambees and not encasing yourself inside a cube of Jello.
The current schedule reflects À la Carte’s August, September, and October offerings; classes are offered through January 2012. Contact A la Carte to learn when new classes become available, or simply watch chefs' hats turn orange as the season changes and new classes are offered. All students must register for their class by October 31, 2011.
À la Carte Catering and Event Design
À la Carte Catering and Event Design shoulders the entire burden of event planning, from the food and wait staff to flowers and decorations to entertainment and lighting. Hosts just meet with an event specialist to describe the basics behind their dream party, and À la Carte hammers out the kinks to make it a reality. The company's executive chef draws on his training in France, New Orleans, and the Caribbean to craft elegant and casual menus, and partner vendors manage other accoutrements, such as coat checks, valet parking, or live musicians. Civilians get a glimpse inside the trade at cooking classes with À la Carte’s chefs during interactive demonstrations that cover professional techniques for butchering meat, cooking pasta, or licking brownie batter off of a spatula.