Lessons learned over one hot stove and several cooking classes

lessons learned over one hot stove - www.alliepottswrites.com #valentines #datenight #cookingclassFood.

Food is a magical thing.

Though everyone who sits at a table will have a unique experience, we still refer to a meal as being shared. You can disagree about a particular taste and the other people at the table with an opposing view will actually support your preference so that nothing goes to waste. Love pickles? Here, have my share. Hate chocolate? Please, by all means, pass that my way.

Food brings us together in a way that nothing else can.

My husband and I decided several years ago that we would rather exchange memories than things and so unless there is a specific pressing need, our gifts to each other are typically printed out confirmations of bookings or tickets to an upcoming event. This year was no exception. I’d booked us a couple’s night out at a local cooking class.

Now, not all cooking classes are created the same and so it is always important to read a class description as well as reviews before signing up.

Words to look for:

Home Chef – unless you are trying to learn to be a professional in the kitchen, classes that cater (pun intended) to the home chef typically feature more commonly found ingredients and utilize the types of equipment and/or appliances found in the average kitchen. Meaning there is a remote chance you might be able to recreate a recipe at home on your own. The downside though is you will learn a recipe you can recreate at home – meaning don’t expect a once in a lifetime experience.

Hands-on – If you are looking for dinner and a show, a class that is not advertised as “hands-on,” is the one for you. A hands-off class is like being part of the live studio audience on a cooking show. You get to sit at a bar drinking wine while the chef talks you through what he or she is doing and then you eat the results. At a hands-on class, you should expect to work for your meal. Hmm, now that I’ve put it like that, I am beginning to question my preference.

Class size – The best classes are smaller classes with a high teacher to student ratio – ideally you don’t want to share your instruction with more than nine other students.

Instructor – It should go almost without saying that you want to be lead in your cooking class by someone who actually has formal training in the subject matter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to teach. This is one of those times you may want to pay attention to a person’s resume.

Location, Location, Location

This wasn’t our first cooking class together. We’d gone to one offered by chefs at one of the high-end restaurants in town. We’d learned about wine pairings, how to properly trim (and store) a steak. Though the class hadn’t been quite as hands-on as we would have liked, we still left with more food than we could eat.

We also left with significantly less money in our wallets. That class hadn’t been cheap, nor had the schedule been flexible as this class sells out months in advance with no refunds offered.

The second class we took together was easier on the budget (as well as the calendar) but was located within a cooking supply store rather than a restaurant. As a result, in addition to our meal, we also had to listen to product pitches for the latest and greatest kitchen do-dads. Still, the food we made all by ourselves (four words – black truffle mashed potatoes) was worth the occasional commercial interruption.

This year I tried to find a happy median between the two. I found a small, hands-on class offered by a chef whose primary business model was the cooking school. The advertised meal (Chicken Saltimbocca) looked delicious, the price was right and the schedule, convenient. But the class itself was not entirely what I expected.

Instead of each couple preparing our own meal from end to end, we each were given a specific course along with a recipe card while the chef instructor hovered between stations. If I ruined the chicken, I’d ruin it for everyone. Right – no pressure at all! I decided it was in the best interest of the group to pass that duty over to my hubby while I peeled potatoes instead.

I will admit that I was disappointed not to be at the dessert station as baking is where my talents lie, but that would have meant spending the evening apart from my other half, who is never so happy as when he is cooking, hence the reason for the night out in the first place.

Then it was time to eat.

The eight of us took our plates to an adjacent room and sat down and this is where the real magic happened. I might not have learned how to make a raspberry almond torte, but instead, I learned of one couple’s adult twin daughters now making their parents so proud. I learned of a documentary on wine tasting, I need to check out, and of one woman’s semester abroad.

Food has a way feeding conversation as well as people.

But I also learned that my hubby still makes me proud (and continues to make me laugh) as he entertained the group with our stories both at the table and over the stove preparing a meal we enjoyed together. And that’s a lesson always worth learning more than once.


28 thoughts on “Lessons learned over one hot stove and several cooking classes

  1. This sounds like SUCH a fun thing to do together. I’ve been to cooking classes before, but never with my husband…I think he would love doing something like this!

    Although, to be honest I like the classes where you all get to try to make everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I prefer to get to make everything too, so the last class did lose some points in my mind for that reason, but I didn’t have to wash dishes or deal with picky eaters so overall it was a fun night out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting class! Tara and I have talked about taking one together for some time now. I guess at this point we’ll wait until we move, but will make that a priority. I definitely prefer the hands-on type, though taking responsibility for one course to feed the rest of the group certainly would be intimidating!

    I must disagree with one thing you said here, though. It’s so outlandish I feel like you either mixed up your facts when you wrote it or were drunk. Possibly both.

    Nobody dislikes chocolate, my friend…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t know if Z-D and I would be able to cook together in public– without bickering. We do ok at home, but out in the real world among the peoples… I dunno. Still I’m glad that you had fun, and having read your explanation of what each type of class is like, I’m interested in the hands-off cooking demonstration. This, this we could do together.


    1. It helps that I am already well aware of my limitations in the kitchen and so am perfectly content to let him take the lead while I sip on my wine. It would be quite the different story if we to participate in something more unknown like participating on the Amazing Race or something.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When my grandson was little, Allie, we watched that popcorn video a bazillion times. It’s so funny and creative. Thanks for all the tips. I’ve been wanting to take some cooking classes since I’m a true Swedish Chef muppet in the kitchen. This gives me some “food” for thought. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! Neither of us really likes cooking, but we both can do some… I think we could benefit from a class though. Agree that cooking does bring people together! I also watched the Swedish Chef video and I truly appreciate the laugh I got from it!! It’s funny on so many levels and the tune is catchy too! I forgot how hilarious those skits are! Cheers!


    1. You might be surprised if you gave it a try. Though I am not one to say anything at all against microwave cooking. I nuke some very yummy cheese quesadillas.


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