Picking the Perfect Cooking Class


How this Foodie got her groove back: 5 things to consider when selecting a cooking class

By Salima Jivraj @halal_foodie & online at: halalfoodie.ca

After being stuck in a rut for several months cooking became mundane, repetitive and uninspiring. Not a good place to be in when most of your professional career is focused around food.

Well the meal plan is done, the fridge is cleaned out and I’m turning a new leaf. For years I’ve wanted to take some fun and light classes or cooking workshops. I had always intended on keeping these a regular part of my life but somehow never got around to it. I’ve been investigating a host of options lately and have learned quite a bit about what to look out for. family_eating_dinner


There are plenty of workshops and culinary classes popping up in both cities and suburbs alike – everyone loves to cook and since food consciousness has been top of mind for many (plus foodie culture growing in popularity), learning new skills in the kitchen is growing in popularity in the form of economical, one-time or short term classes.


Where do you start? First, think of what interests you. I would love to utilize more local or home-grown produce in my family’s diet. I also want to learn how to make dishes from different cultures. Just taking these two factors into consideration a host of options open up – so this is the best place to begin.


How do you select the best class for you? There are some things you’ll want to consider:


Price: this is an obvious. The class has to fit within your budget. Try not to make the mistake of thinking cheaper is better. Often cooking classes require the use of ingredients and or equipment so factor those costs in as well when making your decision. Sometimes the classes that are slightly more will end up being the more economical route.


Class size: cooking is hands on. You want to make sure you have adequate time to get on-on-one time with the instructor. Also, many classes might require you to gather around the instructors work station making standing space limited in a larger class size setting.


Instructor: Being taught by an inspiring passionate instructor can make all the difference. Usually, these smaller boutique classes are, by nature, very passionate! Some even bring in celebrity chefs or chefs from well-known restaurants. This gives more value to the course and will also make it more memorable.


Content: is it theory or are you actually rolling up your sleeves and creating your own dishes? Pick the one that works for you. Cooking classes are so much more fun when you can join in and get your hands busy.


Ingredients: If you’re like me and have certain restrictions then you’ll want to call ahead and ask questions about what you’ll be using. Sometimes things that seem obvious aren’t and you don’t want to be caught off-guard and in a situation that will be tough to back out of. Many places will gladly help accommodate and even give recommendations to alternatives that may exist.


Here are a few places to check out if you’re a fellow Torontonian:


Good Egg, Toronto
A cute cook book shop in eclectic Kensington Market in down town Toronto. This place has a fabulous selection of anything and everything you can think of when you think of culinary literature! They also host a range of workshops ranging in themes but don’t offer a lot of information online. The best way to find out about them is to visit in person or give them a call. The classes are small and sell out fast.


The Big Carrot, Toronto
Offers vegetarian cooking classes that bring in the values of their retail front. They sell both fresh and grocery items plus liquid treats in their fun juice bar. I’m not vegetarian, but it’s very informative to step outside of your usual and experience something completely different.


photo: Arvinda's cooking classes

photo: Arvinda’s cooking classes

Arvinda’s Premium Cooking Classes, Toronto
What does a South Asian person need to learn about South Asian food that she hasn’t learned from her mother? A lot! At first I skipped past these listings when doing my search. Curiosity got the best of me and after learning more about what the class covered, I definitely want to add this to my must try list. The main reason is that a lot of what I’ve learned from my own mother and mother-in-law was much automated; I just went in and did it. There was no history lesson or an explanation of much so going into a class like this would be a great enrichment.


A few other reputable places offering cooking classes across Canada and the US:

Dante, Montreal

The Dirty Apron, Vancouver

Taste Buds Kitchen, New York

Hipcooks, various locations, US

Well Done Cooking Classes, Huston Texas



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