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Hot Stuff: Cooking Classes in LA

1 Comment 07 May 2011

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)

Scarpetta at Montage Scarpetta – Montage Beverly Hills
Talk about sweet. If you want to learn how to make pastries like a pro, it doesn’t get much better than taking a class with chef Richard Ruskell, five-time Food Network Challenge winner and most recently named the “Best Cake Artist in America” on “Last Cake Standing.” On the last Wednesday of every month (except December), Ruskell hosts a pastry class in the display kitchen at Scarpetta, each with a different theme. Even better, the class is limited to about 20 students, so you know you’ll get teach’s attention if you need it.
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BLT Steak dinner spreadBLT Steak – 8720 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood
This swanky steakhouse has class. Literally. After several successful sessions in March and May, chef Brian Moyers is hosting more interactive cooking classes where you can collaborate on making those ridiculously good BLT popovers along with some other seasonal dishes. Classes are $80 and begin at 12:30pm. If you want to know when the next session happens, check online or call 310-360-1950.
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Hipcooks studentsHipcooks – 2833 S Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles & 1920 N Main Street, Los Angeles
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. Some recurring classes currently on the menu: Springtime in Paris, A Cocktail Party, My Big Fat Greek Cooking Class, Pasta in Casa (how to make from-scratch pastas and sauces) and Shortcut to Nirvana.
More info:

Eatz by Michael CwichonEatz – 612 N La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles
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. Each three-hour $95 class includes an amuse bouche to get you in the cooking mood, fresh seasonal ingredients for whatever five-course meal you’re about to prepare (yes, you cook every single dish on the menu), wine pairings or cocktails made from scratch, and take-home recipes. A few upcoming classes include Island Fever featuring Caribbean cuisine, Decadent Desserts, and Bring on the Bacon. (Surprise! It’s full, but there is a wait list.)
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Little Chefs = kids having fun with food!Pinot Bistro – 12969 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
Got kids? If you do, you might want to check out the Little Chefs Cooking Class at Pinot Bistro. Chef Steven Mary leads parent and child through an interactive class (10am-1pm) that encourages eating more veggies and fruits by creating dishes that include these ingredients. Check on the restaurant’s website to find out when the next class will be in session. Tickets are $90 for one parent + one child (age 7 & up); $125 for two parents + one child or one parent and two children ages 7 & up.
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Surfas - cheese, please!Surfas – 8777 Washington Blvd, Culver City
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. If you want to get your hands dirty in the best possible way, try the Visiting Chef series that spans everything from French Macarons and Sticky Buns & Cinnamon Rolls to Tuscan Dining and Chiles Rellenos. Most classes are $75 for about three hours and open to all skill levels and ages.
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Get cooking @ Sur La TableSur La Table @ Original Farmer’s Market – 6333 W Third Street, Los Angeles
Never mind the pretentious name (is it pronounced sur la tah-bluh, sur la tah-bleh, or sur la tahhhb, dahling?), fancy shmancy 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: Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Basics (wipe the drool from your mouth–he’s not actually teaching the series), 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.
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Spork Foods photo by Spork FoodsSpork Foods – 7494 Santa Monica Blvd, Suite 302, 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 four classes based on the same theme every Saturday and Sunday at 11am and 4pm. (They say it keeps class size intimate and focused.) So one week it might be A Taste of Greece while the next week it’ll be Moroccan Cuisine and another week Brunch O’ Clock. Each class is $65 and designed for people of all cooking levels. If you want more, there are monthly, membership-based online cooking classes at
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Cook LA - Chef LizCook LA – 10938 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
Opened in 2010 by Chef Liz (guess she’s keeping it caszh by not bothering with a last name), 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 where you can learn how to make a weekend meal worth eating, and Teen Cooking Basics, a three-part series in April. (That’s one way to keep the kids occupied during Spring Break, no?). Classes are generally $75 per person and last about 2  1/2 hours. Reservations must be made online.
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Chefs Inc photo courtesy of Chefs IncChef’s Inc – 10955 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
Just down the street from the Westside Pavilion and its utterly contemptible food court is where you’ll find this corner culinary studio that promises food you’ll actually want to eat. Open to the novice and pro alike, classes generally hover around $75-$80 per person and can be taken individually or as part of a series. Some of the tasty classes coming up on the menu: Unusual Salads, Burger Mania, Waffle Mania, Classic French from Julia Child, Gluten-Free Cooking, Easter Tea Party and Bride Basics. Multi-course series include Beginners, Intermediate and Kids Summer Day Camp. All classes should be booked online.
More info:

Lets Get Cookin' cheese spreadLet’s Get Cookin’ – 4643 Lakeview Canyon Road, Westlake Village
This cooking school is home of the Westlake Culinary Institute, which means there are 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, with themes like Oodles of Noodles and Martinis Too! 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.
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- who has written 643 posts on Marpop.

Editor, writer and lifestyle reporter Mar Yvette is on a mission to find the best places to eat, drink, shop and have fun. You can see her every Thursday morning hosting the “Weekend Roundup” on Good Day LA, featuring everything from the hottest restaurants, live music and dancing to budget-friendly getaways, fashion, spa and fitness. Also look for Mar on E! News hosting the "Love It, Buy It" deal segment with Giuliana Rancic.

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1 comment

  1. ChefAmyJ says:

    The Academy of Culinary Education on Topanga in Woodland Hills is another school that everyone should know about. They have a great Pro Cooking program with great teacher quality, hands on experience, and 1 on 1 attention. Visit their website at

    It’s a 6 month hands-on program that meets once a week for 6 hours. It’s perfect for those changing careers or wanting to explore pursuing culinary endeavors. I went through the pro cooking program in 2005 and now run a very successful catering biz. I took the Pro Pastry program last year. The main teacher is the amazing Chef Cecilia de Castro who has over 30 years of teaching experience. She STARTED the Pro Cooking programs at UCLA and Let’s Get Cooking and worked there for 15 years before starting her own school.

    She’s great at seeing your potential and helping you figure out the best path for you in the culinary world. So many options it’s important to find the right fit. Almost every week graduates drop by the school to say hi to her and thank her and they’re always looking for staff for the places they’re working.

    Chef Cecilia has worked with Wolfgang Puck for the last 30 years continues to work with him and they hire lots of Chef Cecilia’s graduates. She gives students so many opportunities to help out along side famous chefs at events like The Grammys, Oscars, Food and Wine, The Emmy’s etc. You learn so much doing that. She’s so good at post graduate placement that students from other schools call her to try to get her to help them! Gotta go to the school, to get that benefit!

    Chef Cecilia changed my life and helped give me the confidence at 40 to follow my passion and pursue my dream of cooking for a living. I highly recommend checking out the school. BTW i took over 30 one off classes at New School of cooking, and I even teach at a few other schools around LA, but i think Academy of Culinary Education is the best if you’re looking for a solid Professional Cooking Program.

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