With the rise of celebrity chefs and cooking shows on the Food Network, improving one’s skills as a hobby chef is more popular than ever. It’s one thing to dine out at restaurants all of the time and call yourself a “foodie”; it’s another to actually know how to make many of the dishes you are eating.
In Vancouver, a growing number of culinary schools are offering evening and weekend classes for amateurs. Here are some fun classes to try. Even if you don’t become the next Food Network star, you’ll at least host the best dinner parties.
The Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen is a popular spot for gourmands. Located near Gastown, the school offers a range of classes, whether you’re looking to sharpen your knife skills or plan an unusual date. Their “Mamma Mia” class explores the rustic and rich flavours of Italy, and attendees will learn to prepare a three course meal that includes ravioli, grilled lamb and gnocchi, as well as panacotta for dessert. The “Hawaiian Nights” and “Ocean Potion” seafood class will help those with the basics covered expand their repertoire. If you’re looking to take date-night off the beaten path, why not sign up for a couple’s class, where pairs will cook a romantic dinner together to enjoy afterwards?
The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts has a well-earned reputation as a school for culinary and pastry professionals; however, the Granville Island-based school also offers an array of courses geared towards home cooks. Technique classes, which teach all of the basics over the course of eight weeks, are good for building a solid foundation in the kitchen. The school also offers more specific classes, including those for macaron making, Scandinavian cuisine, cooking a Christmas feast, and cake decorating. Of course, these casual classes can also help you decide whether you’re cut out for the professional program and a career in the restaurant industry.
This Kitsilano cooking school is a café, shop, and commercial kitchen by day. At night and on weekends, hobby chefs are welcomed into Quince’s well-equipped kitchen for classes in various aspects of cooking. A two-hour classic in Classic French Bistro will have you feeling like Julia Child in no time. Learn to make a menu that includes goat cheese soufflé, roast chicken with French green lentils, and a dark chocolate tart. With Spain’s rise as a trendy culinary capital, those interested in Spanish cuisine might want to learn how to throw together a proper paella. Hobby bakers can spend a Saturday perfecting how to make Madeleines paired with lavender lemonade.
Learn to bake your own breads and make awe-inspiring cakes at the Pastry Training Centre of Vancouver. The East Van school has classes for bread-baking newbies, where students will learn all of the basics—including whole-wheat bread, baguettes, and rolls—to more advance course, where artisan breads, like rye and focaccia will be taught. If your love of carbohydrates is directed towards sweets, learn to make pies, cheesecakes, cream puffs, tarts, and more in one of the many pastry classes.
Well Seasoned is part-gourmet food store, part-cooking school in Langley. It’s a great place for home cooks from across the Lower Mainland to refine their skills in the kitchen. Many of the classes are demo-type classes, where a chef will show and tell how to make a recipe and attendees get to eat all of the goods, while others are more hands-on. Popular classes include learning how to make various ethnic eats, including Indian vegetarian cuisine, hand-rolled sushi, Greek food, and Mexican meals.