For one day only

How much can you learn in a single session? TONY writers attend some super-short classes to find out.

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  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The Fundamentals of Cooking: An Introduction to Basic Cooking Techniques

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The Fundamentals of Cooking: An Introduction to Basic Cooking Techniques

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The Fundamentals of Cooking: An Introduction to Basic Cooking Techniques

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The Fundamentals of Cooking: An Introduction to Basic Cooking Techniques

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

The Fundamentals of Cooking: An Introduction to Basic Cooking Techniques

The Class
The Fundamentals of Cooking: An Introduction to Basic Cooking Techniques

Astor Center, 399 Lafayette St at 4th St (212-674-7501, astorcenternyc.com). Aug 12, 26; Sept 16; $127.50.

What I learned
I'm not a novice in the kitchen, but this class still held eureka moments for me—that's how to chop an onion!—and I left able to cook a feast for eight, or an after-work meal for two.

Chef Carl Raymond, an engaging, charismatic teacher, began the class by asking the 13 participants (split pretty evenly between men and women) to introduce themselves. I found I wasn't the only person who cooked regularly, although there were plenty of takeout-dependent New Yorkers. Raymond introduced us to fundamental principles, like the importance of tasting as you go, and the essential tools of the kitchen, including knives (which to buy and how to maintain your three-figure blade) and thermometers.

After donning our aprons, it was time to get our hands dirty. We hit the chopping boards to learn how to hold a knife and dissect onions, garlic and bell peppers with a minimum of fuss—techniques that have saved me time since. Unbeknownst to us, we were preparing the ingredients for the midpoint snack break of this four-hour class—a rich, flanlike creation that I can't stop making.

While that baked, we turned to prepping a whole chicken as Raymond expounded on the correct cooking method for different types of meat. Since I don't have too many occasions to cook a roast, I was pleased that he also taught us to debone a chicken and saut each piece separately. At the burners, we sealed the chicken (which finished cooking in the oven) and used the burnt bits in the pan, shallots and garlic, wine, stock, herbs and butter to make a sauce. Raymond claimed that any acid could replace the wine—even orange juice.

All that was left to do was pour a glass of wine, carve the roast chickens and sit down to enjoy the entres of our labor. The meal was delicious and replicable, and like all the best dinners, it ended with someone else doing the dishes.—Jon Shannon

B+

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