How did you learn to cook?
My cooking skills were born out of necessity. I never had any interest in cooking when I was younger (my interests were mostly in eating) but when I moved to Boston seven years ago, I quickly realized that I cannot survive on restaurant meals and take out and junk food forever. So I started small. I started with Rachel Ray. 30 Minute Meals. Then I moved to Barefoot Contessa. Then I started calling home, asking my mom for recipes. I started reading blogs (lots of ‘em) and I started trying things out myself. And I learned to love cookbooks and food books and anything that has to do with food and cooking. Now I love to cook.
But I’ve never, ever, taken a cooking class. Not until last week.
I went to my very first cooking class on Thursday, and it wasn’t just any cooking class. It was a cooking class at Stir, the demonstration kitchen and cookbook library of Barbara Lynch, chef extraordinaire at Menton, No. 9 Park, Sportello, the Butcher Shop, and B&G Oysters (only some of the best restaurants in Boston).
I have to say it outright though, that this was definitely not a traditional cooking class, as we didn’t really get to cook anything but only prepped parts of our meal. It was more of an experience for me, a very nice evening spent with some of my friends where I learned how to do things I’ve never done before.
There were six of us, and there were three stations where we could prep different items from our menu. We picked the menu beforehand, so we at least knew what we were getting ourselves into. The Stir team prepared some things in advance (mixed the cookie dough, roasted the veggies, made the pasta dough, etc) and then basically just guided us and taught us step-by-step instructions in the kitchen.
Our first task was to divide into three stations: one for marshmallows and graham crackers, one for chocolate mousse, and and for the tian (a tian is a layered vegetable dish)
(which made me long once again for my very own Kitchen Aid mixer)
It was my very first time to roll fresh pasta and make ravioli – I had a lot of fun shaping them into these little flowery pouches! It reminded me of the first time I made gnocchi when I realizes that homemade pasta isn’t so intimidating after all.
This was the end of our prep session, and while the Stir staff cleaned up and set up for dinner, we were whisked into The Butcher Shop next door. Brian from A Thought for Food told me that we will be wined and dined at Stir and the Butcher Shop, and he was absolutely right.
We were able to just chat and relax at The Butcher Shop, and after a few minutes we headed back to Stir. Then we started our dinner, with the Stir staff demonstrating and teaching us about each course:
And as for dessert… well we all know how this meal ends:
Chocolate, always the perfect ending
My friends and I had a really fantastic time at Stir. While it was more like a hands-on demo class than an actual cooking class, it was a really delightful experience to prepare a meal together. Our experience at Stir reminded me that food and cooking really bring people closer. And at the end of the day, we all yearn for the same things: good company, a home-cooked meal, some nice drinks, and a perfect ending – whatever that may be.
Tell me, how did you learn to cook?