I'm not ashamed to admit it. I like to cook. I used to think of myself as a self-taught
Maitre de cuisine until shows like Iron Chef came along, at which time I realized
I am not a Maitre de anything, but just a cook. A pretty good cook, sure, but it's not
like I was whipping up soufflés or Cuisse de Grenouille. Who wants to eat sautéed
frog's legs anyway? But if you want chicken and dumplings just like my Grandma
made or a quiche Florentine, I'm your man. But I wanted to learn. I wanted to get
better. And that's why we're alike, you and I. Because you want to get better too.
The Not So Well-Stocked Pantry
We can continue to practice at home, finding a difficult recipe and going out to buy all the ingredients you'll need, because let's face it, you can't just reach into the fridge and take out the truffles. How well stocked can a home pantry be? "Oh yeah, the truffles, second shelf next to the foie gras and behind the duck eggs...no, no, not the white truffles, the black ones." But as exciting as it can be to make an excellent gourmet meal at home for impressed friends and family, or even just for yourself, I still always had a hankering to take a cooking class. Somewhere. Anywhere. And I've finally decided to do it. And you're going to decide to do it too.
So where do you find a decent cooking class? Luckily, with the rise in popularity of cooking shows and sophisticated food preparations, there is also a rise in people who want to study cooking and a multitude of schools have sprung up to fill the void. You'll find classes tailored to fit a wide variety of schedules, abilities and needs. There are classes offered on weekdays, evenings, and weekends, whether it's an entire course or one-shot deal.
Shake 'N Bake or Matriculate?
One option is to take a class near your home. A good place to start your search is on the Internet. Simply search "cooking classes in...." and put in the name of your town or the nearest city. The search results will return many of your local choices, or you can find them with yellowpages.com. For even more selections, check the continuing education programs at your community colleges. These classes
will always be offered in the evenings and on weekends. Snob meter: Fair. Interesting
Let's make it just a little more exotic. Say you want to go away for a weekend
to visit Seattle for the first time, or Chicago, or anywhere really. Just take a half
day during your visit to take a cooking class. It's a unique way to get to know
the locals and pick up some kitchen skills. Or perhaps you're already planning
a trip to visit relatives. Why not take a cooking class while you're there? If
nothing else, it'll keep you away from the in-laws for a bit, and that makes it
worth it's calories in gold. Snob meter: Excellent! You're so exciting and clever!
If you're like me (and you are - I thought we had already established that) you want to go for the gold. You don't want to just take a cooking class. You want to take a class at a world renowned establishment. Some place special, Some place famous. You want to swagger and strut. So where do you go? Simple. You go to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. I'm not kidding. You can take a one day course on selected Saturdays called Cooking for Friends, translated into English. The six hour course is 160 Euros (about $215 dollars.) That price includes bragging rights. Snob meter: Off the charts, you arrogant Frenchie!
The City of Lights
Of course, you would be stuck in Paris for all those extra days, and there absolutely isn't anything to do in Paris. Sure, you could take a night cruise on the Seine around the city, or go to that Louvre place, or visit Notre Dame, but please don't feed the hunchback. If you can't make it to Paris this year, Le Cordon Bleu also has satellite schools in 13 U.S. Cities. For complete information, visit the school online at cordonbleu.edu.
Whatever your choice, it will be a great experience and you'll be a better cook. Plus you're gonna have fun. Who knows, you might find yourself becoming something of an expert. And just maybe you'll see me there. Bon Jour.