Dear PoPville – Cooking Classes in DC?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric Spiegel

Dear PoPville,

I’d like to bring my partner to a great cooking class as a special treat. I’ve seen several local options: CulinAerie, Company Coming, Just Simply…Cooking, Hill’s Kitchen, Sur La Table, etc. Has anyone tried more than one and could compare? Any thoughts on them individually? They seem to have similar price ranges, some are more commercial than others, etc. Something oriented towards couples would be nice, but not necessary. We’re not beginner cooks, we’d want a lesson that would teach us dishes in a new cuisine or advanced preparation methods. Any thoughts from the crowd?

21 Comment

  • L’Academie de Cuisine is a place in Bethesda. I just went to a class there last week. They have individual classes that consist of themes (e.g. Super Bowl Party, Winter Fine Dining, etc) and ethnic cuisine classes. They also have multi-week classes. I think one is a 3 or 4 week seminar on techniques. Almost all of the classes are participation (rather than demonstration). I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and would recommend it. Most of the people there were with a friend, but I was there alone and got paired up with another singleton. They do have special “couples classes” around Valentine’s Day, but from my experience almost any class could be a “couples class” since you will have a partner. My 3 hour class was $85 and included a 4 course meal. L’Academie has a formal culinary school in Gaithersburg, but the Bethesda location is mostly for recreational classes. Metro accessible.

  • I had a great cooking class at Lebanese Taverna. You get wine, apps, cooking, and dinner. The space is really well set up, too. I also did one at Thai Basil, which you probably need a car for, FYI. Have fun!

  • I take CulinAerie’s “Master Series” classes and am very happy with the teachers, classes and facilities. They offer “Date Night” classes several nights a week with different cuisines. I haven’t been to one yet, but have heard great things from friends who have gone. I’ve also taken a class at Just Simply…Cuisine. We did a private class, so we were able to have input into the skill level. Chris Coppola Leibner is a great teacher and her food is delicious.

    • I’ve used CulinAerie too. I took their Basic Knife Skills and an Indian cooking class. Both were great and I highly recommend them to people. Finding the more advanced knife skills class has been more difficult, they tend to sell out quickly.

  • I signed up with Passion Hospitality Group- Cieba, Acadiana, ect. and every few months I get an email offering couples classes and they usually run about $85 or so.

  • The GF and I have done a couples cooking class at CulinAerie and would highly, highly recommend it to anyone looking for a non-traditional date. We made great food and enjoyed the bottomless wine. The facilities, instructors, and voluteer staff were all top notch.

  • The GF and I have done classes at Culinaerie and both L’Academie locations.

    The Culinaerie and Bethesda L’Academy classes are about the same. Both have great instruction, indivdual burners at each work station and crappy parking (although it’s less crappy in Bethesda). I would recommend either if you take the metro.

    If you go to the bethesda classes though, make sure you take a “participation” class, not a “demonstration” class, which woud be the same as watching a cooking show, except taht you can ask questions.

    L’academy’s other location is where they train the professional chefs. It’s in the middle of nowhere, but there is plenty of parking and instruction takes place in what looks like a restaurant kitchen, which is fine if you want to learn to work in a restaurant, but for amateur chefs you are better off in Bethesda or Culinaerie b/c you each get individual portable burners to cook for yourselves.

    Before they went outta business, ACKC in logan had a good chocolate truffle making class too.

  • If you want something a bit more homey, my boyfriend and I took classes with It’s in her house and very hands on. Our class was just us and one other couple.

  • I strongly recommend Zola Kitchen at 9th and E. We’ve done a few classes there. I like it better than the classes I’ve done at CulinAerie and Sur La Table because the kitchen is an actual commercial kitchen. Not everyone has their own burner, but because the kitchen is so large, you have induction stove top, a steamer, broiler, plancha, fryer, and much better tools. The only problem is that they don’t always offer classes…

  • Has anyone been to Company’s Coming or the classes at Casa Italiana by Judiciary Square??

    • I’ve been to Company’s Coming twice and both times were a lot of fun. It is close to the Cleveland Park metro and you get the benefit of spending a few hours in the Fleischman’s home getting to know them. I’m not sure what their classes are like for couples or singles because I went with a larger corporate group (12-15 ppl), but it worked well for us.

      The class is a cross between demonstration and participation because they have guests cut and stir as the chefs walk you through 4-5 recipes, but there is only one stove. I always enjoyed the bottomless wine and good food, and they give you a nice recipe book at the end.

      I’d highly recommend Company’s Coming for a group or work event, but probably wouldn’t go on a date.

  • Eat & Smile Foods is a small business started by a native Washingtonian, Oliver Friendly, and is a catering company. Friendly offers cooking lessons, cocktail parties, weddings, and anything in between, and all of his ingredients are locally sourced. The best part is, he’ll come to your home to do the lesson, so he can show you how to get the most out of your kitchen. I’ve hired him for cooking lessons with my girlfriend, and it was a fantastic experience.

    Info here:

  • I took a Sustainable Seafood class at Sur La Table and wouldn’t recommend it. The three recipes were basically prepped ahead of time and in some cases, cooked before class. The instructor was informative and provided a great presentation/demonstration, however I didn’t take anything away from the class with the exception of supreming an orange. When will I ever supreme an orange? Sur La Table = basic cooking 101

  • Have to add Basikneads catering in NoVA to the mix. I’ve taken classes at CulinAerie, Sur la Table, and Hill’s Kitchen but Baskinneads was a smaller, more intimate class that allowed for greater chef involvement and better learning. Plus the chef knows his stuff and knows how to teach it. First place I look for classes.

  • I love this Q&A. Thanks for all the info, PoPville!

  • I’m the OP, and thanks everyone for the great information! It sounds like we have some really solid options in this area at all scales and levels of professionalism. Eat & Smile Foods definitely intrigued me, a lesson in our own kitchen with local food sounds great. PoPville is so wonderful!

  • I take cooking classes monthly with chris coppola liebner from just simply…cuisine. She/they are wonderful!

  • Just Simply…Cuisine, without a doubt. The classes are personal (perfect for a couple!), the food is simultaneously approachable & elegant and the experience will leave you feeling sated, sophisticated & inspired.

  • I have taken classes at both Hill’s Kitchen (basic knife skills, pasta making, pierogies, and cooking in season) and Culinaire (whole hog) and enjoyed both immensely! Culinaire was mostly couples while Hill’s kitchen was more of a mix and had all ages along with neighbors plus folks from other parts of the city. We have taken more classes at Hill’s Kitchen and have always found the chefs teaching us to be knowledgeable and really great teachers!

Comments are closed.