They say that the way to one’s heart is through the stomach ... but what if you can’t even boil water?
Never fear! In Columbia we have four, yes FOUR, establishments offering regular classes in the hopes of expanding your culinary horizons (and/or your waist).
Actually, with the announcement of EdVenture Children’s Museum opening the new Taste Buds lab focused on learning about nutrition and basic kitchen skills (see sidebar) and Columbia’s Cooking!, part of the Cancer Prevention & Control Program at USC, plus the occasional classes taught by Clemson Extension agents and others, there are many opportunities for folks to learn something new or hone skills that they already have.
... Or as an excuse to get out and enjoy the company of other like-minded folks over a good meal and a glass of wine.
And always, check our weekly Cooks’ Calendar and individual websites for the latest class schedules.
DISCLAIMER: Over the years, I have attended classes and events at all four locations. On my own dime. While I have enjoyed myself each and every time, I cannot (and will not) pick a favorite.
Fleur de Lys Home Culinary Institute
3001 Millwood Ave., (803) 765-9999, www.fleurdelyscolumbiasc.com
Chef/owner: Francois Fisera
Background: More than 30 years in the culinary world, including positions at Tavern On the Green in New York City and as special events coordinator with Bacardi Rum.
Years in business: Since March 1996
Signature class: Crackling Salmon: Norwegian salmon fillet with slices of French black truffle wrapped in rice paper and sauteed in olive oil and butter and served with a special sauce
Next three classes: April 23, appetizers for Spring; April 26, Chardonnay tasting; April 30, mussels
Typical class size: 25 with 3 to 6 regulars
Average cost: $39 (wine extra)
Atmosphere: Dining club with good friends
Something else: VIP Gourmet Tours to Europe, certificate recognition after milestone classes (20, 100, 200, 300, etc). And yes, one regular attendee will hit class number 400 in August. Private events and catering available.Let’s Cook Culinary Studio 1305 Assembly Street, (803) 348-5874, www.letscookculinary.com
Chef/owner: John Militello
Background: Chef Militello has 32 years of experience in restaurants and hotels and was part of the crew that fed athletes and NBC executives during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino (about 7,000 meals per day)
Years in business: Since 2007
Signature class: Couples classes: Hands-on classes of three to four courses that the couples create together.
Next three classes: Tonight, Food Wisdom RX with Chef Roxanne Smith; April 19, couples cooking, April 26, couples cooking
Typical class size: 10
Average cost: $40
Atmosphere: Community-oriented, friendly, BYOBottle of wine
Something else: Artichoke Club (offers discounts, preferred status for special events, etc.), Wild Women (monthly women-only evening with special speaker/presentation), corporate team building exercises, private classes, Neighborhood Contest (summer contest for local neighborhoods, prize is a party for up to 50 people), visiting chef series.McCutchen House Horseshoe, University of South Carolina, (803) 777-4450, www.hrsm.sc.edu/mccutchen-house
Chef/director: Brian Hay, Director, Culinary and Wine Institute, School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, USC Columbia
Background: Chef Hay has been working and teaching in the culinary field for over 20 years with an extensive background in catering. He developed both the Hospitality and SCF Exemplary Culinary Arts programs for the Austin Community College in Austin, Texas. At USC, Chef Hay oversees the Culinary Arts Certificate program and instructs Chef du Jour classes at McCutchen House. He is a Certified Sommelier, International Sommelier Guild.
Years in business: McCutchen House’s open-to-the-public Chef du Jour classes began in 2008
Signature class: Pasta and sauces
Next three classes: April 20, Fish and Seafood 101; April 23, Wines of Provence (wine class); July 8-12, Culinary Camp
Typical class size: maximum 15 people
Average cost: $50
Atmosphere: Collegiate, cooperative. Depending on class size, attendees form teams of three to five people for hands-on preparation of three to five courses.
Something else: Chef du Jour classes are scheduled Saturday mornings during the school semester. McCutchen House also offers a series on wine and the popular Thursdays at McCutchen dinners that are prepared, served and serviced by HRSM students. Lunch at McCutchen House, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Private events and catering available.Charleston Cooks! Cross Hill Market, (803) 509-8111, www.mavericksouthernkitchens.com/charlestoncooks/columbia
Chef/director: David Marlow, lead culinary instructor
Background: Charleston Cooks! (Columbia, Charleston and Greenville) is part of the Maverick Southern Kitchens group along with High Cotton (Charleston and Greenville), Old Village Post House and Slightly North of Broad restaurants.
Years in business: Opened fall 2012 in Columbia
Signature class: Fundamentals (a series of basics topics based on fish, meat, baking, knife skills, sauces, etc.), Lunch Express (lunch time demonstration classes)
Next three classes: April 19, Food & Wine pairings; April 20, Whole Foods Market tour; April 21, Charleston Sunday brunch
Typical class size: 12 for hands-on, 25-30 for demonstration classes. All classes include meal.
Average cost: $60 ($20 for lunch)
Atmosphere: Fun, laid-back learning experience
Something else: Couples nights, children’s classes, holiday and private events.