Sure, you can marathon episodes of Top Chef until the geography of Tom Collicchio’s bald head is seared into your brain, but you’ll still be playing your own sad game of Chopped with the meager contents of your fridge if you don’t know how to properly tackle a meal. If you really want to take your kitchen game to the next level, it’s time to enlist the professionals. Not everyone has the time to enroll in culinary school or spend six weeks learning how to properly laminate dough (don’t ask), so we’ve rounded up the best one-off New York City cooking classes for elevating your culinary prowess. Whether it’s learning how to twirl pizza, expertly pipe buttercream swirls or create a flaming onion volcano – these straightforward courses will make you think twice about pulling up the Seamless app the next time hunger strikes.
Make Your Own Slice
A number of legit pizza-centric restaurants around the city teach you to make your own pie, many with dough you can take home and bake the next time a craving for blistery crust strikes. Brooklyn newcomer Emily hosts monthly pizza-making classes, usually centered on a theme like yoga or wine pairings. Under the watchful eye of chef Matt Hyland—the force behind the restaurant’s inventive pies— you’ll get the opportunity to stretch and bake a pie in Emily’s 900-degree oven, plus your own round of dough to play with at home. Chef dream shop Brooklyn Kitchen schedules a diverse array of cooking classes, including a homemade pizza night with the crew behind Williamsburg favorite Roberta’s. The two-hour class, led by pizzaioli Peter Litschi and Anthony Falco, includes your own personal pizza, plus beer provided by Brooklyn Brewery.
At Le Pain Quotidien Bleecker’s Street location, you may leave class still not being able to properly pronounce the café’s name, but you will have the know-how to tackle bread. Devote an entire morning or afternoon to one of the French chain’s popular bread baking basics classes, and you’ll participate in each of the 10 steps that go into each loaf. Or, specialize your skills and sign-up for a biscuits and scones lesson or one of their monthly changing specialty classes, that range from puff pastry to international flat breads.
If you’ve ever wanted to master the wizardry of the knife-wielding maniacs at Benihana, roll the dice on the restaurant’s Be the Chef opportunity. During a one-on-one training session from one of Benihana’s master chefs, you’ll learn everything from creating the chain’s signature flaming onion volcano to the art of deftly flicking shrimp tails into your chef’s hat. Following your hour of instruction, you’ll helm the 360-degree grill and cook for your friends (let’s hope they’re easily impressed.) The hard work and possibility of losing a finger earns you a Benihana hat, apron, honorary teppanyaki chef certificate, and commemorative photo.
Man the Line
For the last 14 years, CamaJe
has been opening up its actual kitchen to cooking neophytes, offering genre-spanning classes on everything from homemade sushi to saag paneer. Many classes have a maximum of 12 students and are held in an actual working restaurant kitchen, meaning you’ll feel first-hand the pressures of working on the line. While it’s hard to go wrong with an evening focusing on a French menu or preparing a Mexican table spread, sign-up for one of the shop and cook classes and the instructors will also take you on a fieldtrip and show you how to source fish from Chinatown or fresh produce from the Union Square Greenmarket.
Bake the Book
Anyone who’s attempted Momofuku Milk Bar’s crazy confections at home knows there’s serious skill that goes into the sweets shop’s crack pie, compost cookies, and cereal milk. At Momofuku’s Williamsburg production kitchen, dessert legend Christina Tosi leads a Bake the Book series, where she breaks down the recipes from her cookbook and makes the seemingly inaccessible sweets easier to replicate on your own. Most of the essentials are prepared in advance, so you can focus on assembly, and destroying your own serving as soon as you get home.
Ngam Thai chef Hong Thaimee makes Thai cooking accessible in her weekly Thai 101 classes, held at the restaurant. All ingredients and equipment are provided for you to whip up Somtum green papaya salad, pad thai and green curry, all under Thaimee’s watchful eye. The two-hour class caps at 10 students, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to master the essentials of Thai cuisine. To loosen you up, you’ll also receive a brunch cocktail upon arrival—or a non-alcoholic beverage, if you don’t trust yourself around sharp objects after one drink.
Icing on the Cake
If you prefer to eat dessert first…and then again, after dinner, sign up for one of Butter Lane’s cupcake courses , where you’ll tackle three different cupcake flavors and frostings. The class (with locations in East Village and Park Slope) promises to teach you how to “work a mixer like a rockstar” and ice a pretty cupcake—a formidable task for anyone who’s attempted to wield a Ziploc bag full of buttercream with the corner snipped off. In addition to the know-how to craft the frosted treats, you’ll also score four for the road, plus Butter Lane’s recipes.