Last year for Christmas my husband surprised me with a gift certificate for cooking classes at L’Academie de Cuisine http://www.lacademie.com/
The school offers both professional and recreational courses in two locations: Gaithersburg and Bethesda. I decided to sign up for a course in each location so I could compare. Both of the courses I picked were participation classes, 2 ½ hours long and cost $75 each (they also have demonstration classes if you just want to watch and eat).
My first class was a nighttime course in Gaithersburg – the drive from DC was less than fun, with lots of traffic. In this class we worked in groups of four — but luckily I got a decent group, where most of us were around the same skill level, and it was easy to make conversation with everyone. (There were a few young teens there with their parents, and I was happy to be among adults.) I enjoyed the class, got to ask a lot of questions, and I’ve used the recipes from the class several times. My big problem was that it was hard to hear the chef over the noise from the exhaust fans.
My second class was a daytime course Bethesda. The drive was easy, but they don’t have a parking lot. I found the setup at this location to be much better – the chef used a microphone so it was easy to hear her, and everyone cooked their own individual dish, therefore eliminating the problem of being stuck in a bad group. The chef had a no-nonsense style that I liked, and she was very approachable.
Both classes started with the chef demonstrating in front of the class (with one of those cool ceiling mirrors so you can see what’s going on), followed by everyone cooking. The staff, assistants, students, and chefs seemed to go out of their way to make sure you were enjoying yourself and learning. You could ask as many questions as you liked, and they were always looking to fetch any ingredient or tool you needed. Another thing I liked — you don’t have to clean up – it’s all taken care of for you. The classes ended with a meal of all the dishes we made, along with a glass or two of wine. You leave the class with the recipes — make sure and bring a pen to take notes — I learned some really great hints not included in the handouts.
The new schedule for winter courses will be posted on their website on today. They teach a ton of different subjects — and a gift certificate makes a great gift to any amateur chef in your life!
—Brightwood Living http://brightwoodliving.