open houses, potlucks and parties are the perfect excuse for home
cooks to challenge themselves with new recipes, exotic ingredients and
savvy techniques. What better place to acquire these skills than from
the master, a chef ó and in his or her professional kitchen?
That was the
idea behind the dizzying array of dishes that Scott Baker, executive
pastry chef, instructed me in at LíEcole de la Maison (a cooking
school inside The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake) recently. Half-day
workshops span the culinary compass and in my case the topic du jour
was classic French cooking (and the dishes we tackled included
haricots verts with walnut butter, a crusty baguette and tenderloin of
beef au poivre). With a crisp white apron tied around my waist, I
test-drove the kinds of appliances and gadgets I drool over in glossy
magazines, later sitting down to eat the results of our labor paired
with a glass of wine. To learn more, call (800) 876-3399 ext. 830.
Hereís a look
at a few more intimate cooking classes:
Award winner Sanford díAmato, owner of Sanford, hosts those who are
hungry to learn how a five-star kitchen operates. "A Day in
Sanfordís Kitchen" ($500) starts by slipping into a chefís
jacket, then working alongside the kitchen staff all day long ó or
observing, if thatís more your style ó as they prep for that nightís
dinner. Included in the class is a tasting dinner for two. Dial
Sanford at (414) 276-9608 to reserve your spot.
is broken down into petite steps at Coquette Cafť in the Third Ward,
where a similar experience is offered. "Day in the Kitchen"
is on Tuesdays and Thursdays ($300) starting at 9 a.m. with a tour of
the operation (including where foods are stored and nitty-gritty
details of the ordering process) and time in the kitchen. The day ends
at 2 p.m. with an invitation to return for dinner (with a friend, and
a send-off goody bag containing a chefís coat and bottle of wine).
Call (414) 291-2655 for details.
Michael Feker, owner of Il Mito Enoteca in Wauwatosa, operates a
cooking school, which he calls a "culinary studio," next
door to his Italian restaurant that focuses on French techniques.
Private lessons and group instruction are available, with the group
classes covering topics like preparing turkey brine and stuffing, as
well as the art of preparing holiday treats (Dec. 10, $15). Kohler,
Sub-Zero, Dupont, Decora and Wolf appliances are in the
600-square-foot classroom, which has four cooking stations.
Reservations are necessary; call (414) 443-1414.
For a peek at
Asian-style cooking, Umami Moto in downtown Milwaukee hosts
sushi-rolling classes on occasion. The next class date is Jan. 25. To
make reservations call (414) 727-9333.
90-minute cooking classes ($40) on select Saturdays at the West Allis
restaurant, the instruction inspired by its menu that incorporates
cuisine from Latin countries that include Puerto Rico, the Dominican
Republic, Cuba and Spain. The Dec.10 class focuses on holiday foods
with a Latin twist. Hold your spot in a class, or schedule a private
instruction, by calling (414) 321-5775.
If itís a
healthy diet youíre after in the New Year, Cafť Mannaís chefs can
help. Monthly classes, held in the Brookfield restaurantís kitchen
the last Sunday of the month at 2 p.m., focus on vegetarian and
sometimes vegan cuisine, from gluten-free grains to raw foods to
desserts. Phone (262) 790-2340 to sign up.
is too short for bad cheese," says Steve Shapon, a.k.a. The
is here to make sure you, too, can live by his credo.
Shapon, Wisconsinís most-famous agricultural product ó
cheese ó is taught through courses at The CheeseMaker.
Led by the
man himself, classes (either a three-hour workshop on Jan. 14 or
15, $80; or one of six weekend classes, $279) are held in Shaponís
a fun idea ó and itís a party," he says. "Iíve
been making cheese for 11 years."
longer course, students learn to make ó and take home ó
chevre, Camembert/Brie, blue, Feta, Ricotta and Mozzarella
class is still a good value: The art of crafting Camembert/Brie
cheese is taught in great detail.
is finally cool now; itís finally a hip thing and people
respect it more now than ever," says Shapson, who sold
home-brewing supplies to beermakers before launching The
Cheesemaker in 2005.
for class? Check out www.thecheesemaker.com for CheeseMaker kits
to make your own Camembert/Baby-Brie and/or Blue cheese, or a
combination of both kinds of cheese. To ensure the process is
fool-proof, Shapon includes his 40-page Digital eBook Guide to
745-5483 to reserve a spot in one of his classes. Itís never
been so easy to be cheesy.