Start Your Ovens!
1. For a fresh idea at a moment’s notice, look no further than Fresh Market’s “Fresh Flavors” demonstrations. At the monthly classes at the University Parkway store, chef Marie Poullin walks the group step-by-step through a predetermined recipe. The demos are free, and there’s no registration required—so you can pop right in and be preparing Thai curry three ways or ginger-glazed salmon in seconds. 5251 University Parkway, University Park (941) 355-0417.
2. Located in a specially designed teaching space in the Publix at University Walk, Apron’s Cooking School earns raves as a high-quality bargain: For around $35 or $40, students learn and enjoy a full meal with wine pairings. More ambitious home chefs can tackle Apron’s six-week sessions. 2875 University Parkway, Sarasota (941) 358-1169.
3. When Scottish-born Jeremy Hammond-Chambers moved here and opened his Innovative Dining boutique catering company, he gave Sarasotans a personalized taste of his international cooking experience (which includes a stint as chef de cuisine at New York’s James Beard Award-winning fusion restaurant, Public). At Hammond-Chambers’ Wednesday evening cooking classes, students enjoy themed demonstrations, exceptional cuisine and wine pairings. (941) 373-5678.
4. Frequently during season, eight lucky people gather around Italian chef and cookbook author Giuliano Hazan’s kitchen counter for a hands-on education—and a memorable Italian meal. Halfway through the lesson, the class takes a break to enjoy Italian cheeses or cured meats with an aperitif. Hazan calls the classes “a little taste” of his famed semi-annual cooking school in Verona, Italy. (941) 363-1258.
5. For an in-depth alternative to single-day classes, Adult Community Education offers multi-day sessions—many at the new, state-of-the-art SCTI Culinary Lab—that delve into topics like French pastries, tea tasting and “All About Fish.” There are options for any schedule; just don’t expect an easy A. We hear Sarasota’s ACE rates as one of the best adult education programs in the country. (941) 361-6590.
6. What sells the Wednesday lunchtime cooking classes at Euphemia Haye—beyond the Longboat Key restaurant’s reputation for gourmet cuisine—is chef Ray Arpke’s contagious joy in sharing his techniques and recipes. Euphemia’s signature duck dish recurs in several classes, but Arpke also experiments with his own passions, planning menus around geographic regions or themes like “Everything Red.” 5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key (941) 383-3633.
7. Mattison’s Forty-One hosts regular afternoon demonstrations, led by the charming chef Paul Mattison himself, and culminating in a three-course luncheon. From the theater-style seating of the restaurant’s specially designed Galleria, you might learn how to braise, bake or pan-fry, or you might study “romantic dinners for two” or “spring flavors.” 7275 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 921-3400.
8. Only the 17th Viking cooking school nationwide, the brand-new, state-of-the-art 4,000-square-foot Lakewood Ranch Viking Culinary Center hosts up to 14 fun and wildly varied classes a week—from knife skills to candy workshops; from “Moroccan Feast” to “Girls Night Out: Las Vegas.” Because it’s Viking, you work with incredible equipment and appliances while studying under professional chefs. 8130 Lakewood Ranch Main St., Suite 104, Lakewood Ranch (941) 366-2665.
9. Among the cuisines taught at monthly Casa Italia classes (including Italian, of course, as well as Spanish), chef-owners Nita and Raj Mathur often demonstrate flavors and techniques from their native India. The best part? After the food is prepared, the whole class sits down together for a three- or four-course dinner. 2080 Constitution Blvd., Sarasota (941) 924-1179.
10. “Health Starts Here”—at Whole Foods, that is, where healthy eating specialist Kathryn McCue teaches ways to take advantage of the store’s wholesome ingredients. The demonstrations, which include recipe packs and generous samples, double as a forum to exchange healthy ideas and encouragement. Because you don’t want the quinoa and kale to go to waste. 1451 First St., Sarasota (941) 955-8500.
Our 10 Best are not ranked in order of numerical preference.
This article appeared in the February 2012 issue of Sarasota Magazine.
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