September 2014

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    Courtesy of poprock photography.
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    Treats from Bar Cocoa.
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    Courtesy of Flex + Fit

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    The kitchen classroom at Flex + Fit.
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    The executive chef from Aquavina teaches a seared ahi tuna recipe to participants at Flex + Fit.
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    Susanne Dillingham.
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Calling all cooks

By Michelle Boudin

Posted: Tuesday, Apr. 17, 2012

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We can’t all be top chefs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun trying. The Charlotte cuisine scene offers a myriad of options for getting your groove on in the kitchen. Whether you use your oven for storage or regularly cook up gourmet meals, the Queen City has the perfect class to help you hone your skills. Even the kids can get some hands-on training. The options are, quite literally, mouthwatering!

Cooking up local

You’ve probably seen their food truck around town, but you may have missed their mantra. “Roots. Good. Local. Food.” In addition to the roaming food truck, Roots has a home-base restaurant and recently started offering cooking classes that focus on their philosophy: using fresh food from local farmers. They offer two types of classes, all held in a commercial kitchen and all designed to help you turn fresh, farm food into creative food with appetizers, main dishes and more. The first is actually a series of classes meant to turn beginners into master chefs. Well, sort of. The class starts with knife skills and promises to help you master the fundamentals of cooking. Each participant gets a chef coat and a certificate of completion. Roots also offers Saturday classes for groups of 15 people in a more social setting (read: there is lots of wine!). May’s Saturday class has a Cinco de Mayo theme and June features a clam bake.

Classes range from $55-$70. For more information, check out http://rootsfarmfood.com.

Cooking up healthy

Ever eaten at your favorite restaurant and wished you knew that secret ingredient for just the right flavor? A new health and fitness club in uptown Charlotte is helping students do that – but with a twist. Flex + Fit is all about a healthy lifestyle, so they’ve recruited area chefs to teach cooking classes at their kitchen as they recreate their most popular dishes using the healthiest ingredients possible. The goal of the class is to help you learn to make their specialties quickly, easily and cheaply – while fitting into a healthy diet. The hands-on classes have already featured the chef from Chima Brazilian Steakhouse preparing Brazilian Lamb with Mint Sauce, the chef from Crave Dessert Bar teaching students American Apple Pie with a twist and the Cowfish chef giving up the secrets to the restaurant’s signature creation “burgushi,” seared ahi tuna burger with asian slaw and ginger sauce.

Classes cost $25 per person and include wine pairing, recipe and a tasting with the chef. For more information, check out www.flexandfit.com.

Cooking up for kids

If the kids’ meal at your house means the kids actually make the meal, then Johnson & Wales University may have the right class for your family. During JWU’s Chef’s Choice classes, kids ages 11-16 can make meatloaf disguised as cupcakes, Mexican sushi and faux French fries. If French toast sounds more appealing, another class just for kids teaches techniques for the perfect breakfast (everything from omelettes to a perfectly sliced fruit cups.). And of course, there’s dessert: a class on the art of cake decorating. JWU also offers Chef’s Choice classes for adults, topics including technique and a variety of cuisines.

Prices vary and new classes are often announced. Check out www.jwu.edu/culinary (click on Adult & Continuing Education) or call 980-598-1085 for more information.

Cooking up in your own home

Forget slaving for hours in your kitchen to impress your friends – instead, invite them over for a cooking lesson in your own home. The Tiny Chef aims to help you make beautiful meals using practical techniques. You can opt to cook up an Italian feast and make your own pasta or plan a special meal of your choosing. For three to four hours, Chef Susanne Dillingham will lead you and your guests in a hands-on cooking class in your kitchen. At the end of the night you get to eat dinner and keep the recipes. (Clean-up is even included!)

Chef demonstrations and food and wine pairing classes are also available. Prices vary. Check out www.thetinychef.biz for more information.

Cooking up dessert

At The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, Madam Cocoa greets guests of Bar Cocoa, the luxury hotel’s decadent dessert bar. The life-size woman is completely made of chocolate – down to the hat on her head and the fancy shoes on her feet. While there isn’t a class on how to create chocolate statues, the hotel does offer a full schedule of classes for sculpting other sweets. Participants work in the Cocoa Lab alongside the hotel’s award-winning pastry chefs, learning secret techniques for red velvet cake, cheesecakes, chocolate tortes and more. Other classes offer Italian themes (tiramisu and cannoli), French themes (creme brulee and pots de creme), and soul food (pecan and Mississippi mud pies). The hands-on classes max out at eight people, and students get to taste some of the day’s creations and bring lots of boxed goodies home. This summer the Ritz is also launching the first ever “Camp Cocoa” for kids. It’s a full week of baking and pastry classes that includes lunch and a snack (chocolate, of course!).

Adult classes are offered in morning and afternoon sessions most Saturdays for $75 and include an apron and recipe collection. The kids’ camp will be offered in July and August and costs $550 for the week. Call 704-547-2244 for reservations.

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