New Yorkers can’t cook. It’s a pervasive stereotype, turning up everywhere from Sex and the City (Carrie Bradshaw used her oven for shoe storage) to Friends (Joey essentially subsisted on pizza delivery and the contents of Monica’s fridge).
A more accurate statement would probably be that New Yorkers are too lazy to cook. Thanks to Seamless, Postmates, Caviar and other delivery services, you can have just about any meal you want delivered to your home in half the time it takes to get in the line at Trader Joe’s. Of course, you’re also paying a pretty penny for the convenience, when you consider the delivery fees, tax and tip.
Whether you’re looking to save a little cash or just gain some real adult skills, cooking is the way to go. We’re not suggesting giving up dollar slices or your local Thai spot for good—just test the waters by cooking one or two meals per week. Here’s how to get started with the help of a few NYC cooking classes.
Master the basics
First and foremost, you have to be safe in the kitchen. Knives (especially dull knives) cause more accidents than any other kitchen tool, so learning to handle them properly is an absolute must. Take an introductory class on Knife Skills at the National Gourmet Institute to learn the difference between slicing, dicing, mincing and other cuts, and how to do them all safely.
Start planning your meals
OK, it’s not exactly a sexy theme, but the Meal Planning 101 class at the Brooklyn Kitchen will save your behind (and your budget) more times than you can count. Find out how to cook once and eat several times (hi, leftovers!) to make the most of your time and money. It’s a godsend for the stressed-out Gothamite.
Move on to simple (but useful!) techniques
Now that you know enough not to hurt yourself in the kitchen, you’re ready to actually start cooking. Prioritize classes that cover staple dishes—foods you’ll want to cook over and over for simple dinners at home. You’ll find out all about choosing, seasoning and preparing different cuts of beef, chicken and pork in Meat 101 at the Brooklyn Kitchen, and get the lowdown on seafood in How to Cook Fish at Home Cooking New York. Since you should probably get some greens into your steady diet of pizza and bagels, consider a class on How to Cook Vegetables (Properly), too. Or, knock several skills out in one go with a comprehensive class at the Institute of Culinary Education, like All About Technique: Roast, Saute and Steam.
Experiment with baking
No, we’re not talking about the boxed cake mix you threw together for your roommate’s birthday. Baking from scratch requires patience, attention to detail and a little bit of science. In Le Pain Quotidien’s Bread Baking Basics class, you’ll practice making two simple doughs that can be turned into sweet rolls, baguettes, flatbreads and more. If you’re more of a pastry person, you’ll want to opt for The Baking Basics class at Home Cooking New York. The fact that you get to taste the super flaky pie crust and silky pastry cream you whip up is just an added bonus.
Branch out to your favorite cuisines
So far, so good, right? Roasting a chicken or blanching some green beans seems like something you could totally handle. But making a restaurant-quality dinner? Now that’s another story. If you really want to break up with your delivery guy, you’ve got to learn to cook some of your favorite types of food. If you’re addicted to that fabulously fast Domino’s service, try a class on Homemade Pizza at the Brooklyn Kitchen; if you’re more of a pad-thai-and-chill kind of person, go for Tasty Thai at Taste Buds Kitchen. Believe it or not, making your own spicy tuna rolls is surprisingly easy, too—just try a Sushi Making class at CocuSocial to find out.
An added bonus? You can finally tell your mom that, truthfully, you are eating home-cooked meals.