The cooking school, located in Macy’s Herald Square in New York City, opened its doors 36 years ago and has hosted over 1,300 of the world’s greatest chefs, sommeliers, cookbook authors, and culinary experts throughout its tenure.
The school was founded by Arlene Sailhac in 1980, but has since been taken over by Salvatore Rizzo, owner and director. “I work hard and enjoy every second to continue its rich culinary tradition by inviting the greatest in the industry to demonstrate and serve unique menus that get everyone excited about cooking at home,” Rizzo told The Daily Meal. “Over nearly three decades, we have hosted the likes of Daniel Boulud, Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, Bobby Flay, and Rachael Ray,” said Rizzo who’s been at the helm since 2008.
Recent programming in Herald Square showcased Katherine Marsh of the famed Spotted Pig in Manhattan’s West Village where the dynamic female chef demonstrated how to make some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes such as the smoked haddock chowder with pancetta and house-made crackers.
“Every season, we bring incredible chefs, sommeliers and cookbook authors to the school to highlight a variety of cuisines for our guests — we have a truly amazing roster this season. I am especially excited to have James Beard Award-winning author and chef Gabrielle Hamilton (already sold out), Daniel Burns of Michelin-starred Luksus, Mark Gaier with Clark Fraiser and Rebecca Charles of M.C. Perkins Cove and Pearl Oyster Bar, and Missy Robbins of the highly anticipated new Williamsburg restaurant Lilia,” said Rizzo.
While keeping with the times, the school is constantly finding new ways to reinvent itself and provide contemporary programming and events for a food-obsessed culture. Most recently, the school has been offering weekend culinary adventures away at Wheatleigh in the heart of the Berkshires in Lenox, Massachusetts. Guests are welcomed into a nineteenth century Florentine Palazzo-style inn, which includes a luxurious itinerary filled with cooking experiences, a tasting menu gala with an accompanying wine pairing, and additional treats such as cocktails and s’mores tastings by the campfire.
To stay at the forefront of trends, Rizzo always does his research, learning about the newest restaurants, intriguing ingredients or prospecting up and coming chefs. “I also take the time to hear from my clients who are our De Gustibus guests to find out who they want to see and learn from,” he said. “It is all about providing a fulfilling and unique cooking experience, like Noah Bernamoff and Tony Nassir from Mile End curing and smoking home-cooked Jewish classics packed with flavors and modern techniques or chef Abram Bissell from The Modern with his contemporary American menu.”
I could definitely predict another 36 years in their future.