8 Local Cooking Classes That Will Unleash Your Inner Chef
Sharpen your skills with culinary classes.
Whether you’re an experienced home cook looking to add new techniques to your repertoire or a novice planning to up your weekday dinner game, there’s a cooking class for you. In a city teeming with culinary talent, a variety of public and private classes offer plenty of opportunities to hone your kitchen craft.
If a hands-on class seems a bit intimidating, gather around chef Marcellino Verzino’s island for his monthly Learn & Lunch series in Scottsdale. Classes start with a demonstration of how to cook an authentic Italian specialty, such as handmade pasta with zucchini and pancetta or Gnocchi Sorrentina with creamy gorgonzola sauce. The cooking portion is followed by an interactive discussion with Verzino. Guests can sip cocktails or wine for an additional charge as they dine on organic salad, the demonstrated entree and biscotti. Classes are two hours long and hosted once per month (excluding a summer break). $50 per person, plus tax and tip. (marcellinoristorante.com)
A graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, founder Maggie Norris externed at The Food Network, working with celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and Rocco DiSpirito, before launching Whisked Away in 2009. Classes hosted at her Arcadia home cover topics like basic sauces, Italian feasts and Chinese takeout. Each session ends with a sit-down, family-style meal.
“My goal is for people to want to cook,” Norris says, “so I emphasize tips and tricks that make people’s time in the kitchen more efficient.” Norris also teaches classes in private homes and hosts a summer kids camp, where youths can learn kitchen safety and table manners, in addition to cooking skills. Classes start at $65. (whiskedaway.net)
Tom and Lin Catering
Widely applauded for their catered events, chef Tom Baumbach and his wife Lin also offer more intimate cooking courses. Book hands-on and demo classes with guest chefs at the TLC Show Kitchen (four to 10 people) or in your own home. Baumbach champions local ingredients and their origins to communicate the bounty of Arizona’s agricultural community. “We want students to understand where their food comes from,” Lin says. “It gives them a new lens through which they can view the ingredients and makes them more accessible.” Topics include Asian takeout, making gnocchi and cabernet pairing. Clients can also design a custom menu. Classes start at $100. (tomandlincatering.com)
Driscoll Cuisine and Cocktail Concepts
“We want your home to become your new favorite restaurant,” says chef Brian Driscoll, who co-founded the personal dining service with author and corporate marketing executive Monique Hayward. The pair can create signature one-of-a-kind private chef dinners and host cooking classes in your own kitchen. Whether the goal is to learn a new technique or explore a cuisine, their roster of talented chefs and bartenders will tailor a custom class to teach home cooks how to prepare an elegant meal with wine pairings or cocktails. Past classes have included Mother Sauces, Cooking with Cannabis and Build a Cocktail from the Bottom Up. Classes start at $75 per person (minimum of four people), plus food and beverage costs. (driscollcuisine.com)
The Phoenix Palate
For owner Alexis Armijo, it’s all about a casual and fun learning experience while making new connections. “I want the students to be able to take away more than just a recipe,” she explains. “I want them to meet new friends and create a memorable experience.” Originally founded with Armijo teaching Mexican cuisine classes, Phoenix Palate has now expanded to a diverse team of chefs with roots in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Italy and China. Classes might include Vietnamese Pho, Sushi, Street Tacos, Classic French Cooking or Fresh Pasta. Students learn techniques, along with plating skills and presentation tips. Both in-home and public cooking and baking classes are available, as well as private chef experiences. Classes start at $65 per person. (thephoenixpalate.com)
Classic Cooking Academy
Donna Dionot and her husband—chef Pascal, a culinary veteran for more than 30 years—opened CCA in 2007. “We really put an emphasis on education, teaching techniques, correcting bad habits and educating about nutrition,” Donna says. Recreational classes encompass themes such as Gourmet (including Surf and Turf and Spanish Nights); Pizza; and Bread and Cheese. Each incorporates hands-on instruction before dining on a meal with complimentary wine and beer. For a more comprehensive experience, enroll in the 24-week Practical Series or 12-week Pastry Series suitable for all skill levels. With a staff of 10 chef instructors, CCA also hosts five-course wine dinners, team-building workshops, kids camps and after-school programs. Recreational classes start at $50. (ccacademy.edu)
Sur La Table
Head chef Minerva Orduño Rincón is a familiar talent in the Arizona culinary community, having spent time at renowned restaurants such as FnB. The former architect has also shared her Sonoran recipes through workshops and demonstrations at Tucson Botanical Gardens. Today, she is dishing out her cooking knowledge via classes at Sur La Table’s Scottsdale Fashion Square location. Learn about everything from baking macarons to crafting fresh pasta, or opt for themed programs, from Exploring Thailand to Paris Bistro Night. The latter two include an entree, sides and dessert. “It’s very much about taking the fear out of cooking and teaching people to enjoy the process,” says Orduño Rincón, “because once they do, everything is going to taste so much better.” $79 per person ($59 for knife skills class); $249 for five-day summer kids camp. (surlatable.com)
Tracy Dempsey Originals
“I love to teach because it completes ‘the circle of giving,’” says renowned pastry chef Tracy Dempsey. “It’s great to make food for people but even more satisfying to show them a trick or two in the kitchen to reduce the ‘I can’t cook’ anxiety.” Dempsey also owns a wine shop and shares her knowledge of beverage pairing with both sweet and savory dishes. Past classes held at her commercial kitchen in Tempe have included cocktail party appetizers and drinks, as well as Valentine’s Day desserts. More recently, virtual Zoom classes invite guests to join in for themed classes: think Summer Soups and Salads; Tea Time Treats, Sweet & Savory Galettes; or Tapas and Vermouth Cocktails. $65, including an ingredient kit. (tracydempseyoriginals.com)