Looking to beef up your kitchen skills? In search of the perfect present for the food-lover who has everything? Chicago has a food-centric or cooking class to suit every interest and skill level, from a class on making coffee like a pro to learning how to make beer to an in-depth course on Indian food.
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Cooking classes in Chicago
In a unique twist on the typical cooking-course model, Lillie’s Q chef-owner Charlie McKenna brings the classroom to you. Over a two- to five-hour session at your home, he’ll teach you to prepare the barbecue classic of your choice (meat included in class fee) on your own grill. While the price tag may seem pricey, keep in mind that you can split the cost with up to five friends—and that you’ll get to feast on the results, along with sides and dessert.
Budding coffee geek? Head on over to Intelligentsia’s Fulton Street Roasting Works for a three-hour barista class. Under the tutelage of impressively pedigreed instructors like Ryan Soeder (recent winner of the North Central Regional Barista Competition), you’ll pull shots, practice pour-overs and try your hand at latte art.
Tap into your inner brewmaster during a two-installment course at South Side shop shop Bev Art. Your first session begins with an introductory lesson in the science of brewing; then, you and a partner will apply your new knowledge to start off a two-case batch of beer in the style of your choice. Four weeks later, you’ll return to bottle your now-fermented handiwork.
If you’re one of those home bakers who gets spooked by the idea of working with yeast, Baker & Nosh’s Bread Basics class is for you. During your three-hour session, your instructor will guide you through the fundamentals of bread making, exploring white, wheat and sourdough varieties and schooling you in shaping techniques. Looking for something a bit more advanced? The shop also offers a three-hour croissant workshop.
Eataly’s La Scuola program offers a rotation of two-hour, hands-on, evening and weekend classes that explore the wide world of la cucina Italiana. Pull fresh mozzarella at the Forming Formaggio workshop, or learn to shape a pie like a Neapolitan pizzaiolo at the Hands-On Pizza Party. Oh, and bring your appetite; classes include on-theme tastings of food and wine.
Submit yourself to the expertise of Uzma Sharif—pastry chef, Triton College culinary instructor and owner of this Pilsen chocolate boutique—and in just 90 short minutes you’ll be rolling truffles that are as pretty as they are delicious. (If a night of chocolate making doesn’t sound sufficiently awesome for you, all classes are BYOB.)
During this three-hour demo class, you’ll watch meat master Allen Sternweiler deconstruct a whole hog before sharing a porcine meal. Even if you don’t anticipate doing a lot of whole-animal butchery in day-to-day life, observing this process will arm you with a deepened understanding of cuts that you can draw on when browsing the meat counter or decoding a menu. BYOB.
Accomplished self-taught cook and Indian expat Ranjana Bhargava demystifies her native cuisine—from its complex spicing to its regional variations—in a range of vegetarian classes hosted in her own Hyde Park kitchen. Enroll in a four-session course that will school you in the intricacies of both Southern and Northern Indian specialties, or sample a one-off class exploring a single topic, such as Indian breads. Each three-hour class concludes with a meal.
Culinary novices, take note: Competent knife handling is arguably the foundation on which all good cooking is built. If you don’t know the first thing about slicing and dicing, this two-and-a-half-hour class—a long-time Chopping Block favorite—is a great place to start. Along with receiving a hands-on lesson in technique, you’ll also learn how to choose, sharpen and store knives. Wine and beer available for purchase, or BYOB (corkage fee applies).
We’re not saying that Doug Sohn–shaped hole in your heart is going away anytime soon, but cranking out some encased meats might help a little. Let Westminster Hot Dog Company—which recently closed its own storefront to focus on catering and teaching—show you the way during its hands-on, hour-and-a-half to two-hour sausage "university." Bonus: Rather than some crummy diploma you’ll shove into a drawer, you’ll walk away from this university with a pack of fresh sausages.
Classes held in Haute Sausage’s kitchen space, 335 S Franklin St.