Creating a meal from scratch is both challenging and delicious, much like playing "Stairway to Heaven" on a clarinet made out of a candy cane. Master meal melding with today's Groupon: for $70, you get a four-class Cooking Correctly...Confidence in the Kitchen series for one from Chef Ellen (a $140 value).
For more than 15 years, Chef Ellen Schwartz's informative, hands-on cooking classes have helped students of all experience levels enjoy maximum returns on their culinary efforts. During the first session of Cooking Correctly, participants sidle up alongside 15–20 other pupils to create desserts such as cheesecake and crème brûlée. The ancient art of salad arrangement yields its leafy secrets at the second class, during which potential chefs also learn to prepare homemade soups and cook vegetables without eliciting lobster-like screams. At the third session, attendees learn to create the five essential sauce bases and apply them correctly to proteins. During the final session, Schwartz reveals how to create a stunning holiday spread that harbors the potential to fill the dinner table with hungry neighbors impersonating family members. Food fees are included, so participants don't need to bring their own ingredients from home or try to hastily whittle imitations out of soap.
The old saying "it takes a village" didn't apply to Chef Ellen's family—for them, the phrase "it takes a grocery store" was more on key. Ellen's father and grandfather operated their own grocery stores, allowing her to spend large portions of her childhood around food and those who knew its ins and outs. With the ingredients and knowledge readily available, she began honing her cooking skills at age 9. As a grownup, however, she hung up her spatula temporarily, attaining a career as an elementary-school reading specialist and a middle-school counselor. It wasn't until she joined the staff at Leisure Learning more than 15 years ago that she was able to combine her childhood fascination with food and her passion for education. She still leads cooking classes for all ages and skill levels through the organization to this day.
During lessons, Chef Ellen covers a wide spread of culinary fundamentals, teaching students how to sharpen knives, operate a grill, and whisk together flavorful marinades. She emphasizes student participation and hands-on experience in each of her classes, involving the attendees in every step from planning the meal to quelling the always-present threat of a food fight.
When she isn't sharing her wisdom in the classroom, she lends her talents as a personal chef and a professional recipe consultant, making occasional television appearances and demonstrating invaluable kitchen techniques.