Ever been at brunch and thought, I could probably cure my own bacon? If you’re traveling to Portland, Ore., anytime soon, you can cure to your heart’s content after a class at The Kitchen. (And to get the authentically Portland food hipster experience, it’s followed by a four-course BYOB tasting).
Thanks to a recent nationwide explosion of one-off culinary classes, the hands-on DIY food fanatic is more likely than ever to master temperamental tamales or toss pizza dough like a pro. Students looking to expand their repertoire have the chance to learn a particular technique, like poaching and braising, or become more knowledgeable about a specific cuisine, like Thai and Texas BBQ. In some cases, home cooks looking for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn from a well-known chef also get a birds-eye view of a restaurant’s inner workings.
Caprial Pence, who, along with her husband John, teaches classes at The Kitchen, shares her take on the trend. “With the decline in the economy and the education of the consumers people are looking for ways to both eat better and save money,” she says, “I also think people are beginning to understand that they need to take their food and eating habits into their own hands instead of food manufacturers.”
At the award-winning Osteria in Philadelphia, owner and chef Marc Vetri has hosted a wide range of people — from foodies to couples — at his intimate eight-person classes. Students drink wine and get their hands doughy making pizza and pasta. “Food is in, cooking is in, chefs are stars and everyone wants to be a part of it,” Vetri says of the appeal. “Twenty years ago it was cool to get a guitar lesson from a famous musician, an acting lesson from an actor... now it’s cool to get cooking lessons from a well-known chef.” Whether you’re staying close to home, or heading to a new city and want a different type of souvenir, these classes can be the best way to break your kitchen routine.