There comes a time in everyone's life when they have to learn to cook more than scrambled eggs and frozen pizzas. For those of us who grew up in homes that relied on take-out and frozen foods, this can be a particularly hard transition. But fret not, there are plenty of places where you too can learn the art of top-notch cooking. Or at least the skills necessary to avoid an unforgivably embarrassing date night. Check out six places in Phoenix where you can learn to cook a passable meal (well, technically five, but all good cooking requires good alcohol).
Sweet Basil Cooking School in Scottsdale offers classes in just about everything -- from cake decorating to gourmet cooking for couples.
"Anything we do with grilling is always popular," says owner Martie Sullivan. And now that it's finally fall, grilling classes are going again.
Every Friday, Sweet Basil also has it's "gourmet couples" classes where you learn to cook together (without killing each other). The class features a 3-course meal (that you prepare) served with wine.
There's also a 12-week Essence of Cooking class where novices can learn all the basics of family cooking.
For those of you who want to learn the art of cooking authentic Indian food, The Dhaba cooking school is a good bet. Cuisine Directors Pallavi Lal and Taz Doolittle run the school and both have several years of experience cooking world cuisine -- not just Indian food.
The Dhaba cooking school offers five-session "culinary journeys" and single session "culinary showcases" on specific cooking techniques. The five-session classes teach students how to prepare a complete Indian meal, from appetizers to vegetarian plates and meat dishes. You even learn how to make a traditional Indian dessert.
Sur La Table may in fact have more cooking classes than any one person could feasible take. But one class being offered this month that stood out was the "better with bacon" class. Learn to cook all sorts of stuff with what may be the perfect meat. Oh, it can go so much further than as a side with scrambled eggs.
Other classes being offered this month include how to make gnocchi, and an introduction to Szechuan cooking.
It's not exactly a cooking class, but what's good food without good drink? Or at least that seems to be the sentiment at Old Town Whiskey. Bartender John holds a periodic "whiskey school" where he delves into different types of the "water of life" including Scottish, Irish, and American whiskeys. The next class is coming up on October 27th, so gird your liver and prepare to learn about this manliest of manly drinks.
As a side note, Chef Jose Garces who owns both Old Town Whiskey and neighboring Distrito will be in town on October 23. Distrito will hold a book signing event featuring a five-course meal with beverage pairings.
Each December Barrio Cafe offers a holiday season tamale-making class. Back in 2010, we went to the event then hosted by chef and owner Silvana Salcido Esparza and one of the key things we learned was that getting tipsy and gossiping is the most authentic way to make the corn-husk covered, savory treats. Other things you'll learn include the tradition of making tamales during the holidays and where they originated, but most importantly, you'll have a great time.
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Sadly, Silvana may not be teaching this year's class, according to the folks at Barrio Cafe. The one-day class runs about $80 one-day and is about two and a half hours long. At the end, you'll have a sack of freshly made tamales to take home. Not a bad trade off. (We'll keep our fingers crossed that Silvana changes her mind!)
There's no better season to break out the grill in Arizona than fall. And on October 20th the Southwest Barbecue Academy is offering its class in the art of cooking raw flesh over an open flame with Pitmaster Harry Soo. The class will be held at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. Participants learn "competition barbecue techniques" including meat selection, trimming, recipe injections, rubs, sauces, temperature control, BBQ chemistry, bark formation, foiling meats, and more.