How to find a good cooking class in Los Angeles or any other city is probably easier than you think. There are so many potential sources to tap that can bear fruit. The first thing to consider is whether you’re looking for a single workshop-style class or a series of classes. If you’re just starting out and get nervous doing anything beyond boiling water for pasta, perhaps attending a few cooking demonstrations might help determine if cooking is for you. (Of course it is! You like to eat, don’t you?)
Cooking demonstrations on many different types of cuisine or food styles are often held by specialty grocery or kitchenware stores, such as Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma or Sur la Table, to name just a few. Often, the stores’ websites will list upcoming events. Even well-established farmers’ markets or large herb or produce farms with affiliated restaurants may run special cooking demonstrations for interested customers. Get a few friends together and make it a fun outing. If you’re a beginner, exhibitions like this are a particularly good way to see what it’s like to have a chef demonstrate techniques and how to use certain types of equipment, before you start looking for cooking classes in earnest.
Doing an Internet search to find cooking classes in your area can be a good starting point. Many sites and forums offer reviews of these types of classes which can be very helpful, but do be skeptical of over-the-top rave reviews as well as those which sound particularly venomous. It’s sad but true that reviews are often faked or biased for purposes that may not be readily apparent. Pay attention to those reviewers who provide detail on what they did and didn’t like, and appear objective. They’re more likely to be serious foodies than salespeople.
Take a look at the cooking school websites and look at every page on their sites. Check out the chef/faculty bios and what their specialties might be. Good schools will have plenty of photos of students taking classes, and should have detailed information on the types of classes they offer and the levels available (beginner, intermediate, advanced).
Actual hands-on classes, by far the most fun and educational, can be found fairly easily. In addition to the Internet, check out the good old-fashioned Yellow Pages. Cooking schools may offer individual or short series classes as well as semester-long choices for professional, matriculating students. These schools may or may not specialize so be sure to check out the entire roster of classes available. Again, enlisting a friend makes finding and taking a cooking class that much more fun.
Local wholesale kitchen and restaurant supply stores may be able to recommend cooking classes, and, if you’re near a major metropolitan area, such as Manhattan, Los Angeles or Chicago, it’s likely that the gourmet magazines found in newsstands or supermarket checkouts may have advertisements to help you find cooking classes in your area. If you have a great food writer in your regional paper, send them an e-mail asking if they can suggest local sources that might hold cooking classes. And don’t forget to ask your friends and co-workers. You may be surprised at who is interested in cooking and who may have already taken classes, as well as be interested in taking them along with you.
Don’t forget to check out our Los Angeles Cooking Classes directory!