Schools To Get You Cooking

A century ago, cooking classes were more a matter of necessity than entertainment. The typical cook of days-gone-by was often amazed, amused and overwhelmed by the ever-changing results of industrialization: electric ovens, Crisco, factory-made macaroni.

Through the 1930s, state-run cooking schools, offered through the Wisconsin Farmers’ Institute, introduced Industrial Age inventions and encouraged a more precise approach to cooking. Dozens of rural cooking classes, each two or three days in length, popped up throughout the state each year.

Today, recipes, diets and cravings spin in other directions, and cooking classes again are in high demand. Dozens of culinary classes, throughout Wisconsin, detail the art and the science of food preparation.

L’ecole de la Maison
Elkhart Lake

An offering of the fabulous Osthoff Resort, enjoy this palate-pleaser as a solo workshop during your stay, or a five-day course in French cuisine as your reason to visit. A welcoming atmosphere, skilled chefs and a great custom kitchen guide you in developing your culinary passion. (800/876-3399, osthoff.com)

Madame Kuony Demonstration Kitchen
Milwaukee

Although cooking diva Kuony died in 2005, her spirit lives on at the Milwaukee Public Market where rotating chefs conduct 90-minute classes in the Third Ward building’s upper-level demonstration kitchen. Among the topics: Feed 4 for $10, or Simplify Sauce Making. (414/336-1111, milwaukeepublicmarket.org)

Lake Geneva School of Cooking
Lake Geneva

Chef John Bogan uses cooking to design four-hour corporate team-building classes inside a former parsonage in downtown Lake Geneva. The events help participants “relate in ways not possible in the office.” Cooking experience is not a prerequisite. (262/248-3933, lakegenevaschoolofcooking.com)

The Dining Room at 209 Main
Monticello

Wave Kasprzak’s hands-on Chef for a Day class, at his classy restaurant in tiny Monticello, involves only four students at a time. They arrive at 1pm on a Sunday and learn to prepare a six-course dinner, which is then served at 5pm. The class fee covers dinner and matching wines for the student and a guest. (608/938-2200, 209main.com)

Braise on the Go
Milwaukee

Dave Swanson of Milwaukee is known for taking his cooking classes on the road, sometimes to farm or garden settings. Students learn about the origin of ingredients as well as what to do with them in the kitchen. Class topics tend to employ locally grown ingredients. (414/241-9577, braiseculinaryschool.com)

Demonstration Kitchen Saturdays
Kohler

In Kohler, short classes during winter and early spring frequently tap the expertise of The American Club and other local restaurant chefs. The chefs’ 11am and 2pm classroom food forays tempt the palate to pursue more later, at one of the nine Kohler restaurants. (800/344-2838, destinationkohler.com)

Carr Valley Cooking School
Sauk City

World-class cheesemaker Sid Cook brings fine dining chefs from as far away as Dallas and Brooklyn to cook as they teach in Sauk City. The guest chefs incorporate Carr Valley cheeses during 2.5 hours of instruction, as students watch and indulge. (608/986-2781, carrvalleycheese.com)

Amy’s at Woodhaven
Mountain

Northwest of Green Bay, instruction feels personal and laid-back at Amy’s at Woodhaven, near Mountain, where diners sit around the horseshoe-shaped counter in Amy Donaldson’s homelike, Northwoods kitchen. They watch as the chef prepares multi-course gourmet fare. (715/276-2665, amysatwoodhaven.com)

People’s Food Co-op
La Crosse

Of nominal cost are the healthy eating and cooking skill sessions conducted at People’s Food Co-op, La Crosse. Some topics are geared toward children, and the average class length is two hours. Catch a meal beforehand, or afterward, at Hackberry’s, the bistro located above the grocery. (608/784-5798, peoplesfoodcoop.com)

“White Jasmine Everyday Cooking,”
Madison

Last, don’t assume that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Pakistani native Huma Siddiqui, whose Madison-based White Jasmine sells exotic and unusual spice blends, hosts a weekly cooking show televised by NBC in Madison. People who make free reservations can attend show tapings and sample whatever is made. (608/437-1250, whitejasmine.com)

Last edited 12/16/09

This entry was posted in Cooking Classes and tagged Features and Profiles