Revenge of the Cooking Class
The foodie movement has spawned more than a swarm of organic labels; it has also revived the cooking class. Once a Home Ec standard, cooking instruction (and Home Ec itself) was eventually starved out by the modern convenience. But with more fast food, microwaves, and restaurant choices than ever, why are cooking classes making a comeback now? Perhaps it's because they offer an infomercial pitchman's dream: a fun event that will teach you skills, make you healthier, and improve your romantic life.
Classes have popped up almost as many times as places have organic labels. Restaurants like Roy’s, Sotta Sopra, Corks, and Pierpoint all offer classes. I've heard good things from friends about the classes at the Elkridge Furnace Inn, and Dogwood is offering some really cool ones this summer, with a healthy theme which can additionally be found in the classes from The Baltimore Health Coach.
For the Love of Food is the rare organization focused solely on classes. My buddy Tim teaches classes of all kinds at William Sonoma, and I'm always jealous of the stories he tells about what they get up to. Last August, The Baltimore International College (BIC), our own culinary institute, got into the game. Though the BIC has always taught cooking to their enrolled students, their public classes are new. I've taken two BIC classes and both were great. In one I learned to make cheese from scratch (yeah, it's that hardcore). Their summer schedule should be posted soon.
For restaurants, this must be more than a money making scheme. From what I can tell, chefs put a lot of prep work into these classes. There are so many dining options, I suspect classes are partly about building loyalty, but I think they're also about sharing a love of food.
The really cool thing about the restaurant cooking classes is that they are taught by some premier local chefs. It's like having Ray Lewis coach your flag football team. Some of the nation's best chefs are located in our area, and now, you can take classes from them and those that work with them and experience firsthand their skill and passion for food.
Prices vary a lot, but most classes involve a full meal, so when combined with the 2-4 hours of entertainment and cooking instruction, a sometimes steep-looking $80 price tag, for instance, generally disguises a really great deal. Besides, you'll get more than a recipe and a meal. Classes make a great gift and are a great place to meet people. You may even fall in love.
I'm not here to give dating advice, but if I was I'd say that cooking classes are amongst the best possible date choices, whether it is a third date or a ten year anniversary. A traditional dinner date often feels like a job interview. A cooking class helps remind us that food is sensual. It's exploratory, exciting, and hands-on...like a good date.
At the very least, a cooking class gives you something to talk about, and if you don't like your date, something else to focus on. You'll walk out with some new cooking techniques or recipes, so unlike a dinner date, a cooking class date will never be a total bust. I should also note that the culinary-minded single male might want to sign up for a class or two. With the exception of my self, my fiancee, and one other couple, the last BIC class I took appeared to be all attractive, single women learning to cook. If that's not a description of the ideal Match.com profile, I don't know what is.
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