Whether you're an expert cook or just learning, taking a cooking class can be a lot of fun while teaching you some great techniques and recipes. Cooking classes take on many different forms and cater to many different audiences, and any class is a great experience for everyone. Whether you're flying solo or looking for a great idea for a night out with friends, a cooking class can be just the thing to fill your evening.
Types of Classes
Most places that offer cooking classes have many different kinds of classes. Usually, you will find several different menus with a variety of cuisines. One day might be a French cooking class while another day might be an Italian cooking class and so on.
Also, menus might be different within the cuisine, depending on the time of year and the specialties of the chef teaching the class. Facilities that offer cooking classes like to use fresh, local produce that might cause some variants in the foods prepared.
Furthermore, you might find technique classes rather than recipe classes. Technique classes focus on one specific technique that you might use in the kitchen like knife skills, pasta making, grilling, and many more. In these classes, the focus is not on making an entire meal as it is with a recipe class. Rather, you will be chopping or grilling or using whatever technique the chefs are teaching you until you perfect it.
Whether a recipe class or a technique class, you might sign up for an observation class or a hands-on class. Observation classes are ones during which you watch the food being prepared, often while taking notes so you can recreate the recipes or techniques in your own kitchen, but the chef does all the work. Hands-on classes are ones during which you are given some instruction, but you spend most of your time actually preparing the meal or performing the technique.
What to Expect
Whether you're taking a recipe class or a technique class, an observation class or a hands-on class, you can expect to eat a lot of food. When you pay your registration fee, that usually covers the cost to pay the chefs who are teaching the class as well as the cost of food. Therefore, you are usually able to at least try all the food that is prepared in the classes. Even in technique classes where an entire meal isn't prepared, there will usually be something prepared that you can eat. So come hungry! In hands-on classes, you will also be expected to give everything a try. Even if you are a terrible cook, the chefs aren't going to cook the food for you. If you wanted that experience, you could have just gone to a restaurant. However, don't worry. The chefs are there to make sure you don't ruin anything, so go ahead and give it a try. You never know what you might learn.
Many places offer cooking classes, but the best way to find one is to do a quick Internet search for locations. Some places that offer classes are restaurants looking to make some extra money during off hours or culinary schools that offer one-time classes for the general public. Others, like The Chopping Block in Chicago, IL, are stores dedicated solely to cooking classes; that's all they do there. Sometimes they also sell utensils that are used during the classes for a discounted price, but mostly they just teach people how to cook.
Because you're paying for a chef to teach you how to make the food as well as the food itself, cooking classes can be kind of expensive. Expect to pay anywhere between $65-$150 per person for a 2- or 3-hour class. However, consider how much you would have paid for a dinner for two at a nice restaurant. Considering how much fun you'll have, it's worth the price.