Spring break is over for most people, which means it's time to hit the books and learn a new skill. In this case, your classroom is the kitchen, and your supplies come in the form of a stove top, oven, knives, a cutting board and a lot of tasty ingredients. From pie workshops to seafood seminars to instructions on how to re-create Chinese takeout, these courses and schools are the places to go to enhance your cooking game. With that in mind, book a class, be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, then don an apron and get playing with pots and pans.
1. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
637 South Broadway, Boulder
Don't be intimidated by the name of this Boulder institution; while top-notch training for professionally minded chefs are offered, there is also a whole program for home cooks. Each course proves hands-on and technique-focused, whether you are perfecting the art of making sauces, learning about cooking steakhouse staples or building a taste for all things Thai. Students are under the tutelage of an experienced Escoffier chef-instructor, some of the best-trained men and women in the field. Most classes happen on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., but check the school's calendar online to verify dates, times and prices.
2. Cheese + Provisions
2432 West 44th Avenue
While this darling cut-to-order cheese and gourmet grocery in Northwest Denver offers quality classes, they aren't exactly cooking classes. However, you will develop skills about tasting cheese and how the products work with booze. After all, by learning how beer, wine or spirits go with various Goudas, cheddars and blues, you'll also learn to grasp the nuances of the ingredient. This means you can pinpoint the right cheese to add to your hearty macaroni dish, find out what wheels goes best with your wine and appetizer spread, and discover new tastes that can be incorporated into everyday cooking. Right now, husband-and-wife co-founders Steve and Kim Duty are hosting a few special courses, including a beer-versus-wine cheese-pairing class (April 7 at 7 p.m.), Mother’s Day Bubbles and Cheese 101 (May 7 at 7:30 p.m.) and spirits and cheese with Devil’s Head Distillery and Laurel Miller, author of Cheese for Dummies (July 26 at 7 p.m.).
3. Cook Street School of Culinary Art
1937 Market Street
Founder Morris Hecox discovered so much joy in the kitchen that he left his job as an attorney and went to Le Cordon Bleu in London to study cooking. He later decided to use that knowledge to open Cook Street in 1999, a place that has instilled Hecox's love for the culinary arts in the students who attend. You don't have to commit to a life in the kitchen to learn a little something here; just about every night in the LoDo school offers tantalizing one-up classes for the home chef, from knife skills to culinary techniques to how to prepare Mexican street food. Highlights include the steak-and-whiskey course (April 29 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. for $99): a three-and-a-half-hour instructional that covers how to prepare beef and a feast to go with it — plus the proper brown spirits for pairing. Expect to dine and sip after you cook, while learning about whiskey from an expert from a local distillery. For another great option, take one of the classic-technique classes, a series that covers artisan bread, sauces, pastry and more.
4. Long I Pie
2400 Curtis Street
Shauna Lott has been playing with pie dough since she was a wee five-year-old. Now as an adult, she runs the successful Long I Pie inside of her shared bakery space, Temple Bakery. While you can dip in and sample the goods anytime, Lott also helps newbies learn the secret of her deep-dish, cast-iron-baked treats. Currently she teaches two courses: whole-pie cast-iron baking ($120 per person) and an all-butter-crust class ($50 per person). The former takes place Saturday afternoons from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Temple Bakery, and you'll leave the class with recipes and the pie you baked in a cast-iron skillet. For the latter course, students meet at Craftsman & Apprentice, 1325 East 22nd Avenue, on the third Tuesday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Expect to learn all about buttery dough before you walk away with recipes and two freshly made pie crusts. As a bonus, you get to eat pie and drink wine or beer while you learn.
5. The Seasoned Chef
999 Jasmine Street, Suite 100
Do your cooking goals involve perfecting Indian cuisine, learning about handling a knife properly, using beer in food or understanding the nuances of Southwestern cooking? No matter what skills you expect to achieve, at chef Dan Witherspoon's longstanding school, you'll have a great opportunity to acquire them. While Witherspoon remains the lead instructor, he has tapped into the city's talent by offering classes overseen by top chefs including Kevin Morrison, executive chef and owner of Pinche Taqueria; Brandon Biederman, executive chef at Steuben's and Ace Eat Serve; John Broening, former executive chef at Le Grand Bistro and Spuntino; Carrie Shores, former executive chef of Table Six; and more. But don't be intimidated by the teachers' skills; the goal of the Seasoned Chef is to help home cooks get comfortable in the kitchen, read recipes easily and grow in their cooking knowledge.
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6. Stoic & Genuine
1701 Wynkoop Street
On the first Saturday of the month, head to Union Station and learn all about seafood with chef Jorel Pierce and his project, School of Fish. In just two hours, discover the history and economic importance of all sorts of sea dwellers, from mackerel to soft shell crabs to oysters, as well as ways to cook them. Pierce will go over both classic preparations and some modern techniques, such as those you might find being served at Stoic & Genuine. The next available course is on May 7 and covers the game fish of Hawaii. Classes run from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
7. Uncorked Kitchen
8171 South Chester Street, Centennial
In Centennial, Eric and Katie Robbins's Uncorked Kitchen is churning out weekly classes for the whole family. On the adult side, you'll find courses on cooking the perfect steak, filling pasta, baking cakes and croissants, and preparing regional cuisines from places such as Northern Italy, China, South America and India — just to name a few. While making the food, be prepared to taste as you go, chat about how and why things are done in the kitchen and ask plenty of questions. Uncorked Kitchen also hosts five-week courses for kids ages six through seventeen. These seminars cover either European or American food and offer a broad range of different dishes found across both continents.