Admit it. You’ve watched every cooking show on TV, know all the chefs and down-home hash slingers by name, and yet you still don’t know what the hell confit is, how to really use a knife, or what you’re supposed to do with that Cuisinart other than let it console the similarly jilted Jack LaLanne juicer that’s been sitting in your cupboard for the past five years. Well, it’s time to get off the couch, roll up your sleeves, get into the kitchen, and actually make something other than reservations. Here’s a short list of places around Los Angeles to help you get cooking. (Photo: Eatz by Michael Cwichon)
Hipcooks – West LA & East LA
As tempting as it is, I won’t hold the name against Hipcooks. This group of cooking studios has a good rep for offering hands-on classes for the culinarily curious. Classes have a set price–$65 for the West LA location, $55 for the East LA location–which includes fresh organic ingredients, tools, supplies, and a wine tasting with dinner. (No minors, please.) New classes are posted around the first of the month on the Hipcooks website where you can find out beforehand whether the class is vegetarian-friendly, dairy- or wheat-free, and if knife skills will be taught. There’s a class every night of the week, just make sure you pre-register as no walk-ins are allowed. More info: www.hipcooks.com
Eatz – Mid-City
Awaken your inner chef, walk into a fun dinner party setting, and learn to cook like a pro. That’s what Eatz promises at their hands-on cooking school. Most classes hover around the $100 mark and include an amuse bouche to get you in the cooking mood, fresh seasonal ingredients for whatever meal you’re about to prepare (yes, you cook every dish on the menu), wine pairings or cocktails made from scratch and take-home recipes.
More info: www.eatzla.com
Surfas – Culver City & Costa Mesa
This Westside mainstay might be best known for its warehouse stocked with endless rows of restaurant supplies and hard-to-find gourmet goodies, but it’s also home to FREE cooking demos and tastings as well as some really popular cooking classes that are $75 per person for about three hours and open to all skill levels and ages.
More info: www.culinarydistrict.com
Sur La Table – Original Farmer’s Market
Never mind the name (is it pronounced sur la tah-bluh, sur la tah-bleh, or sur la tahhhb?), fancy cookware, unnecessarily color-coordinated gadgets and overpriced culinary superfluities. Sur La Table is actually a legit choice when it comes to gaining real cooking skills. Some of the cool courses they offer: Gluten-Free Baking, Sushi 101, Date Night and Spring Break (for kids and teens). Just make to check their website to sign up ’cause these classes fill up quickly. More info: www.surlatable.com
Spork Foods – West Hollywood
Praise the vegan gods (or in this case, sisters Jenny and Heather Goldberg) for creating a place where those who eat no meat or dairy can figure out a way to make everything else taste good. Using organic, vegan ingredients, the duo offers classes based on different themes every weekend. So one week it might be Vegan Pig Out while the next week it’ll be Moroccan Cuisine and another week Brunch O’ Clock. Each class is $70 and designed for people of all cooking levels. There are also monthly, membership-based online cooking classes.
More info: www.sporkfoods.com
Cook LA – Studio City
Opened in 2010, this hands-on cooking school is geared toward adults and children. Classes take place on different nights of the week, with themes including Gourmet Pizza Night, Mediterranean Delights, and Girls’ Night Out (cooking in stilettos encouraged!). There are also daytime classes like the Sunday Brunch ‘N’ Munch and Teen Cooking Basics. Classes are generally $75 per person and last about 2 1/2 hours. Reservations must be made online.
More info: www.cooklaonline.com
Westlake Culinary Institute – Westlake Village
This cooking school offers full-fledged programs designed for those considering a career as a professional chef or caterer. But even if you have no aspirations of becoming the next Wolfgang Puck (or, at the very least, a runner-up on “Top Chef”), there are lots of courses you can take based on skill level. Most are demos, but the hands-on classes are the most fun and cost about $85. There are also weekday workshops, midday gourmet courses, child and teen classes, culinary camps, party classes, and an onsite store so you have the right tools to recreate it all at home.
More info: www.letsgetcookin.com
ACE Academy of Culinary Education – Woodland Hills
This full-fledged culinary academy in the Valley is for those who want to pursue a career in cooking, but there are also single classes for folks who simply want to improve their skills in the kitchen. Some of the classes teach basics like how to use a knife (seriously, most of us don’t really know how to make the most of this tool) and there are also pre-teen/teen courses that offer hands-on training. More info: www.academyofculinaryeducation.com
Salted – Online
How about this for a cooking school: You don’t have to get dressed up for class. You don’t have to drive anywhere. You choose whenever you want to learn and whatever courses you want to take. And it’s all less than $10 a month. This is Salted, a new online cooking school with top chefs from across the country who have created videos to show you everything from how to make the best sauces to top techniques and recipes for seafood, Mexican, Italian, BBQ and pretty much anything else you can imagine. More info: www.saltedtv.com