Many home cooks share a common dream of one day completing culinary school and earning a degree that qualifies them to join the ranks of celebrity chefs such as Thomas Keller and Mario Batali. Though Chicago boasts some world-renowned culinary programs, practically speaking, people trying to balance work and life won’t have time to add a full-time class schedule.
Consider attending recreational classes scattered throughout the Windy City. For example, upcoming events at The Chopping Block and Cooking Fools incorporate traditional preparation of Chinese dishes along with recipes from other cultures.
Cooking Fools, a food service business located at 1916 W. North Ave., offers several classes for anyone interested in a hands-on cooking experience. The company rewards participants with a family-style meal at the end of each class. On Wednesday, Sept. 22, starting at 6:30 p.m., Cooking Fools is conducting a class called, Low and Slow: Secrets of Braising, that combines lessons on preparing tender meat and poultry. According to its Web site, the class covers “Chinese Red Cooked Chicken,” a traditional preparation that literally turns the meat red due to the marinade. You’ll find “red cooked” dishes all over Chinatown, but how rewarding to learn how to cook it yourself! The braising class costs $80 per person.
Another class the following week highlights traditional Chinese cuisine, namely dumplings. On Sept. 29 beginning at 6:30 p.m., International Dumplings class participants will prepare Chinese Sui Mai and pot stickers, among other dishes. Mastering the technique of making a proper dumpling might take a few attempts, but the taste is worth working and waiting for. The dumpling class costs $75 per person.
Across town at the Chopping Block, the calendar is dominated by classes inspired by French and Italian cuisines. But if you look closer, some classes focus more on technique than cuisine. One class that pertains directly to Chinese cooking is called, Knife Skills. It’s no surprise this is the Chopping Block’s most popular class, as cutting vegetables in a medium-dice or julienne for a stir-fry requires a very different technique than mincing garlic to infuse oil. The Chopping Block offers “Knife Skills” at both locations, and charges $40 per person.
Additionally, a class called, Girls’ Night: Easy After-Work Meals, introduces dishes involving cooking techniques often employed in Chinese cuisine. Participants will steam fish and create an accompanying sauce and sautèe a Chinese vegetable called bok choy. The price of “Girls’ Night” is $40 per person.
For more events offered by Cooking Fools, click here.
The Chopping Block offers classes at its Lincoln Square and Merchandise Mart locations, and class schedules live here.