It’s back-to-school season! And it’s not just kids that should be getting excited about learning something new this fall. Instead of putting your nose to the grindstone, take your knife to the whetstone, because we’re talking cooking classes! Enroll yourself in one of these to sharpen your skills, add more spice to your repertoire and help make America “grate” again, one technique at a time.
418 North Country Road, St. James, NY 11780
Class curricula? Who needs ‘em when you have Chef Jonathan Contes as your mad professor? Classes at his renowned restaurant take on that same joyful, “as you wish” quality that makes every experience unique. Like his five-course tasting menus that change with every day, his classes are customized to his clients. This fall offers your opportunity to ask the chef how to do anything at all—no technique is off-limits and he’s excited to be challenged.
This is your chance to pick the brain of a skilled, free-spirited master whose cuisine is always a journey of imagination. In fact, in spring 2015, we even lauded meals by Contes and his partner and co-chef Tate Morris as “a high-wire culinary act that never falls.” The only things that will be on the menu for sure are seasonal ingredients, heavily seasoned with sprightly spontaneity.
This rare event is slated for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, September 19th or Monday, September 26th and will be available for $110 per person. Simply call for reservations and be prepared to learn, sip, taste and have fun.
739 Smithtown Bypass (Route 347), Smithtown, NY 11787
The time to register is now, because the September and October cooking class schedule for this popular venue has now been released! Make your house your favorite New York steakhouse with a class of that theme on Thursday, September 8, or wait exactly one week, for September 15, to spirit yourself east with Mediterranean-inspired dishes that include Moroccan chicken tagine with apricot couscous and baklava. On Saturday, September 24, go even further in that direction with Japanese sushi chef and Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) alum Mamie Nishide. A tour around the world is being offered the day before this deep dive into Japan’s most famous one-bite wonders; you’ll visit the flavors of Europe, Asia, and Latin America on the 23rd. Then, at the end of the month, come back home with “Tavern Fare,” perfect for football season. Alternatively, if you took the hors d’oeuvres and party bites classes earlier in the month, you’d be all set.
In October, you can look forward to French, Mexican, vegetarian with a focus on mozzarella, steak and cake, fine dining ($10 additional), or catch that steakhouse or sushi class if you couldn’t make it to September’s sessions.
All start at 6:30 p.m., cost $85.62 per person, and include a hands-on cooking class with served, plated dining that’ll only be more delicious for knowing how it’s made. Call to register.
32 Atlantic Avenue, Lynbrook, NY
We’ve written about A La Carte before, both as a date night idea and an outstanding activity for kids with themes such as global comfort foods during sessions like Junior Chef Unity Week. However, that’s only an appetizer for what they have to offer at this full-service culinary center. In its two teaching and four cooking areas, their upcoming class themes include Modern Italian, Weeknight Date Night, Knife Skills, Cookies and Cupcakes, Focus on Fall, a couples Chopped-style challenge and Girls’ Night Out with a live psychic to make your experience otherworldly. In addition, kids programs like Toddlers in the Kitchen, Grown-ups and Kids, provide weekend fun for the family.
In October, the month starts with a family focus: Dads and Daughters, Jr. Chef Kitchen Science, Teen Chefs, and a Chopped-style afternoon for kids take over the calendar. Weeknight Date Night is also on, and Dinners to Flirt By makes for a romantic Friday night on the 28th. Their November calendar includes seasonal musts like Thanksgiving sides, make-and-take baked goods classes, plus their usual wealth of child-friendly courses.
Participation ranges from $65 to $200 and up for select sessions and registration is online.
320 Broadway Greenlawn Road, Huntington, NY 11787
Cooking is an art, but baking is a science—and never has chemistry been more delightful than in a baking course. Not only does the precision of baking enhance reading comprehension and math skills, mastering its fundamentals lets creativity—like happy yeast—bloom and flourish.
Become a weekend warrior with Saturday morning and noon sessions that will have you mastering dessert before you need even start prepping for dinner. This September, master basic cake decorating and cake pops and truffles. In October and November, cake decorating is again available, along decorating with fondant and two-tier cake decorating. Just in time for you to kick off the holiday season sweetly, a class on cookies and brownies, pie-making or cookie decorating may hit the spot. But if savory is what your palate craves, October offers a pizza and pretzel workshop and December has a focaccia and ravioli session scheduled.
All workshops are only $55 each, plus a $15 registration fee for new students and 5% surcharge for credit card payments. Call for to enroll.
5. Sur La Table
630 Smith Haven Mall, Lake Grove, NY 11755
1468 Northern Boulevard, Manhasset, NY 11030
This autumn, Sur La Table is revealing the secrets of a great local classic: bagels from scratch. Two dates are available for this focus, but the list of events they have slated for September alone seems infinite. Among the options from around the world are a modern Tuscan, sushi or surf-and-turf date night; Thai favorites; a taste of the Greek Isles; homemade ravioli; Autumn in Paris; Chinese take-out; a Tour of Italy; and French macarons or croissant workshops.
Global is great, but seasonal can be just as fun. September offerings encompass Oktoberfest classics, fall soups, pumpkin everything, pies and ice cream; October adds risotto, gnocchi, apple creations, doughnuts, sourdough and tarts to the mix. Themed get-togethers—in addition to couples’ evenings—include girls’ night out, family lessons and healthy cooking. And if you want to take home more than a full belly, be sure to look into special workshops that include a freebie, such as the book that comes with the Jacques Pepin’s Home Recipes course, a knife from the Knife Skills 101 with Global class, and free gift with the French Baking Favorites sessions.
Prices range from $49 to $85 for specific classes, and up to $195 for multi-session series. Pro-tip: last-minute seats may go on sale for more than half off closer in to the date. You can book these and regular hands-on seats online or by calling the store itself.