In 2011, Jake Rothschild of Jake’s Ice Cream fame grew weary of friends whining about only having microwaved pizza for dinner. The entrepreneur saw a niche for a cooking school specifically for people who might take a page from Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex and the City” and treat their ovens as extra closet space.
This story originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Living Intown magazine.
“I wanted to attract non-cooks who wanted to learn the basics and make great food,” Rothschild says. “It’s not highbrow. It’s very informal. But it is hands-on. We make pasta from scratch with a knife, fork, spoon and a rolling pin. Then, after we make the food, we all sit down and eat it together, discuss questions and get to know each other better.”
Rothschild’s Cooking School at Irwin Street is a particular favorite of couples, even though he admits to putting the men on the spot. “We ask them, ‘How much cooking do you do at home? Do you help with the grocery shopping? The clean up?’” he says. “It gets couples encouraging each other, and I’m blown away by how many come back to take classes. I think it’s actually been helping some marriages.”
Whether your relationship needs a recharge or you’re just eager to learn your way around a kitchen, Atlanta offers options for would-be culinary students. This sampling of cooking classes will suit many tastes.
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Le Cordon Bleu
This local branch of the renowned French cooking school brings an international flair to the learning landscape. While the majority of programs are degree-based, a roster of “classes for culinary enthusiasts” are also offered and taught by the school’s trained chef-instructors. Options in the “Bleu Ribbon Kitchen” catalogue include two-, three- and five-day workshops, as well as six-hour Saturday sessions, all of which involve participants lacing on aprons and getting to work. Topics include techniques (knife skills and sauces), baking and pastry, and sessions based on cuisine types (vegetarian, French, Italian). Prices vary by course, but most run between $59 (a basic skills course) and $199 (planning a complete festive party).
1927 Lakeside Parkway, Tucker. 770-938-4711. chefs.edu
Sur La Table
This Phipps Plaza store hosts a cooking class almost every day, with sessions slated at 11 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. during the week, and more times on the weekend. Sign up for the Friday or Saturday date night classes, during which couples produce meals with such themes as the flavors of Tuscany or New Orleans. Other courses may focus on particular ingredients or dishes, such as seafood, croissants or sushi. During the summer and school breaks, sessions are added for kids and teens. Most classes last 2.5 hours and are very hands-on, so spaces in the store’s classrooms are limited to 16. Prices range from $45 to $150. Sur La Table’s Alpharetta location offers similar options.
3500 Peachtree Road. 404-973-3371. surlatable.com
The Lenox Square and Ponce City Market locations of this gourmet supply store sell hard-to-find kitchen gadgets as well as an impressive selection of cookware, cutlery and accessories. They also feature free, one-hour cooking classes for kids at 10 a.m. every Saturday and for adults at 11 a.m. every Sunday. Each session has a theme tied to the month: Cookie decorating was a hit in December, but January is all about juicing and eating healthy. Participants enjoy tastings and 10 percent off purchases made that day. Registration is required and limited.
Lenox: 3393 Peachtree Road. 404-812-1703; Ponce City Market: 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-810-7486. williams-sonoma.com
Long a staple on the city’s culinary scene, the two intown locations of this chef’s emporium always pack in pupils for a broad selection of food-related topics. Beginning with basic technique courses, students can move on to mastering risotto, Korean tacos and French baguettes. Advanced sessions cover how to get the most from your Big Green Egg or discern the differences between Argentinean and Chilean red wines. Most classes last two hours; prices range from $45 to $70.
Midtown: 1544 Piedmont Road. 404-815-4993; Decatur: 180 W. Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-377-4005. cookswarehouse.com
The Cooking School at Irwin Street
Classes at this hands-on school are limited to a dozen participants who prepare an entire meal under the guidance of a local chef, then sit down and share it together. Topics range from “pastabilities” and “superfoods” to such ethnic cuisines as Mexican, Italian or Greek. One of the most popular is the “Got Soul?” session, which features fried chicken, collards, and mac and cheese. The “Play with Your Food” series on Saturdays is aimed to help kids as young as 4 learn how to be helpful and safe in the kitchen. Some classes include wine. Prices are $80 to $85.
660 Irwin St. 404-889-6568. irwinstreetcooks.com