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Top chef
Your guide to the area's best cooking classes

By MELISSA MCGRAW

Looking for a new hobby? You’re in luck. Milwaukee’s favorite chefs are spilling the beans in culinary classes across metro Milwaukee. Register today for expert advice on how to make your kitchen a dining destination.

Best Value

Demonstration courses offer recipes, tips and samples at Bay View Community Center, 1320 E. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee. Classes are open to all on a first-come, first-served basis. For about $16, experience new themed cuisine. www.bayviewcenter.org or (414) 482-1000.

Best Take-home Recipes

Sandy D’Amato leads themed demonstration classes in the Garden Room of Coquette Café, 316 N. Milwaukee St., Milwaukee. He selects five recipes featuring contemporary, ethnic, market-driven dishes (your favorites from Sanford and Coquette) and offers samples with matching wines. $59; register for the mailing list at www.coquettecafe.com or (414) 291-2655.

Best Alfresco Dining

Chef Eileen Sherman of Live to Eat at Hidden View Farm, 8104 W. Highland Road, Mequon, provides five hours of hands-on education focused on world cuisine made with local produce. In the last hour, students enjoy "the fruits of their labor" outdoors when weather permits. $95. www.livetoeatnow.com or (262) 512-4163.

Best Variety

Executive chefs lead seasonal demonstrations at Mason Street Grill, 425 E. Mason St., Milwaukee, Saturday mornings at the Chef’s Counter. Learn from the experts at Mason Street Grill, The Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee ChopHouse, Hilton Milwaukee and InterContinental Milwaukee. $35; maximum 20 people. (414) 298-3131 or www.masonstreetgrill.com.

Best Homage

Classes at Milwaukee Public Market’s Madame Kuony’s Kitchen, 400 N. Water St., Milwaukee, are dedicated to the Wisconsin icon. They are taught by culinary director Jill Nickerson, personal chef Alisa Malavenda, food coach Suzanne Monroe and visiting chefs. Demo courses start at $25 and hands-on courses are $49-$79. (414) 336-1111 or www.milwaukeepublicmarket.com.

Best for New Friends

Classes through Milwaukee Recreation are bonding experiences for children and adults. They are held in "lighted schoolhouses" around the city, featuring dishes from Caribbean, Hmong, Indian and Italian to sushi and grilling menus. Prices depend on participation; about $20 and slightly higher for nonresidents. (414) 475-8811 or www.milwaukeerecreation.net.

Best Dinner Conversation

Located adjacent to Il Mito, the School of Culinary Magic, 6917 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, offers demonstration and hands-on classes led by chef Michael Feker. Along with one-on-one sessions, corporate team-building events and group lessons over lunch, 14 places are available at the Chef’s Counter. He’ll prepare a personalized meal with complimentary wines and interactive conversation on taste and technique. $59-$120. (414) 443-1414 or www.ilmitocooking.com.

Best for All Ages

Test Kitchen classes at Superior Equipment & Supply, 4550 S. Brust Ave., Milwaukee, host six to 75 participants. Local chefs offer demos and samples on Wednesday nights. The cooking series is six weeks of hands-on learning on a particular theme, such as Italian cuisine. Kids ages 2-17, including those with special needs, can participate too. With any class, receive a discount on store products pertinent to the lesson. Contact Andrea at andrea@superiorequipmentsupply.com or (414) 671-1200 to register.

Best Participation Bonus

Williams Sonoma offers quarterly demonstration classes in the Test Kitchen on Tuesday and Thursday nights. For $35, spend two hours with the featured chef, sample the cuisine, take home recipes and receive a 10 percent discount on your purchases that evening. Sundays at 2 p.m. are complimentary technique courses taught by store experts. Maximum 25 students. Bayshore Mall, (414) 967-8879; Mayfair Mall, (414) 771-3755; www.williams-sonoma.com.