10 DIY Culinary Classes Slideshow

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Jeffrey’s Sausage Making Class: New York, N.Y.

Boasting a 109-year-old family pedigree, fourth-generation butcher, Jeffrey Ruhalter, leads sausage-making classes at his namesake stall in the Essex Street Market on New York’s Lower East Side. In addition to a tasting, students have the chance to stuff the casings with custom-made blends tailored to their palette. Jeffrey is a character himself, guaranteeing that your two-hour lesson ($75) will be as delightful as the homemade links you take home. 

The Cowgirl Creamery Cheese 101 Class and Tasting: Point Reyes, Calif.

If a one-hour drive north up the California coast from San Francisco to the cape of Point Reyes doesn’t sound charming enough, then how about making a stop for cheese? The renowned Cowgirl Creamery’s original location is in a restored barn in Point Reyes Station. Their “Cheese 101” is offered every Friday at 11:30 a.m. It includes something you don’t see every day, a curd-making demonstration, and at only $5 it’s a steal of a deal. 

Caprial + John, The Kitchen: Portland, Ore.

Riding the bacon craze, Portland chefs Caprial and John Pence have added a new curing class ($50) to their weekly repertoire of classes. The husband and wife team, who have 50 years of experience between them, take the mystery out of preparing pork belly. After you’ve mastered bacon, roll up your sleeves to tackle pancetta and pastrami. A four-course tasting follows and it’s BYOB. 

El Centro de Raza: Seattle, Wash.

Ever fantasized about making authentic tamales? Then head off the beaten path to the Beacon Hill neighborhood where a San Antonio transplant, Graciela Gonzalez, teaches tamale classes for a good cause at the social-service agency, El Centro de Raza. (“The Center for Race”) Gonzalez learned the craft from her Mexican-born mother and grandmother, and her recipe stresses equal parts masa and meat. There’s one other crucial ingredient. Lard! The $50 charge for the class supports the non-profit and students leave with a dozen tamales. 

Brooklyn Kitchen Labs: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Brooklyn continues to stake its claim as the most exciting culinary hotspot in New York (and the country, for that matter) because of places like the Brooklyn Kitchen Labs. Though goggles and white coats aren’t required for entry, the BKL cooks up a wide-ranging weekly schedule of classes from kimchi to fresh pasta and pickling to knife skills. For Valentine’s Day, there is a special workshop on what to cook for breakfast “the morning after.” 

Lamar Culinary Center: Whole Foods, Austin, Texas

For food fanatics, it doesn’t feel right to visit Austin without paying homage to the original outpost that launched many of the current locavore trends: Whole Foods Market. The flagship, right off of lively Sixth Street, has both a commercial store (with a walk-in beer fridge!) and culinary center. The latter is where both Whole Foods cooks and local guest instructors teach classes. Try one that revolves around regional specialties: Mexican street taco, South of the Border, or Hill Country barbeque. 

Kasma's Philosophy of Cooking: Oakland, Calif.

The intoxicating ingredients of Thai cooking — chilies, limes, curry, coconut, and lemongrass — have no problem standing out on their own. But the trick to making them sing is to deftly blend the spicy, sweet, salty, bitter, and sour tastes together in harmony. For guidance on striking a perfect balance between the bold flavors there is Kasma Loha, a native of Thailand who learned to cook from her mother. For the past 25 years, Kasma has been trading off between teaching Thai cooking classes in her hometown of Oakland and leading guided trips to Thailand. It’s hard to get more authentic than Kasma. She develops her recipes using materials that are written in Thai and often unavailable to a non-Thai speaker. Her wisdom is in high demand, so make sure to make a reservation far in advance (class rates vary).

Tru Kitchen Experience: Chicago, Ill.

Forking over $200 to work a kitchen shift doesn’t seem like a fair concept, until you realize that the kitchen in question is Tru’s and the chef and owner is pastry queen, Gale Gand. Though there is no guarantee that Gand herself will be in attendance, the full afternoon includes staging (and tasting!) in both the savory and sweet sides of the kitchen.  Chef enthusiasts can even sit in on the pre-service meeting as they experience a day in the life of one of Chicago’s finest establishments. At day’s end, reward all that time on your feet with a three-course feast in the restaurant’s dining room. 

Pizza and Pasta Classes at Osteria: Philadelphia, Pa.

If there is one food where handmade dough can transform a simple dish into something sublime then it has to be pasta. Or is it pizza? Either comfort food could stake this claim, so it’s good that both classes are offered at what is arguably Philly’s best pizza parlor. Owner and James Beard award winner Marc Vetri along his crew teaches students the process the way it should be done — by feel rather than weights and measurements. 

Cooking Classes with Chef Jean Francois of La Cachette Bistro: Santa Monica, Calif.

On Saturday mornings, chef Jean Francois Meteigner has opened his kitchen to the home cook and invited them in for a monthly four-hour class that culminates with lunch and wine. Whether it’s lamb, fish, or beef, his sessions match an ingredient to a technique. Beef heats up on the grill, fish swim in poaching liquid, and lamb roasts in the oven until nice and brown. For those with a sweet tooth, he demystifies the temperamental soufflé in a class all about chocolate.