perks for your palate.
8 culinary classes in Chicago we're booking right now
Whether you're a chef-in-training or are still mastering the art of boiling water, culinary classes are just what you need to build your arsenal of cooking techniques—or to just get off the couch and into a fun, social atmosphere. From regionally inspired Italian fare to handcrafted candy bars to modern cocktails, Chicago's world-renowned food and drink landscape offers classes that cater to just about any interest. Here are eight that'll put your toasting and tasting talents to favorable use right now. Bon appétit!
Grilling Fiesta at The Chopping Block
Fire up the grill at this hands-on outdoor class hosted by the city's largest recreational cooking school. You'll walk away well-versed in the art of handpicking the freshest avocados to whip up a mean chipotle guacamole, and a master at prepping tomatillos for a smoky salsa. You also get down to grilling chayote squash, skirt steak for sublime tortas, and pineapple to top ice cream and a citrus caramel sauce for dessert—all to be shared with your new comrades on the patio.
When: Saturday, June 4, 6 PM–8:30 PM
Where: 4747 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60625
Italian Cooking Classes at A Tavola
When this unassuming house in Ukrainian Village dishes up life-changing gnocchi, and owner-chef Dan Bocik casually divulges his "secrets" to the pillow soft dumplings over vino monthly, we go there. Get a whole different perspective on the A Tavola menu by preparing a rotating, four-course roster of their house specialties yourself. Dive into grilled portobellos, gnocchi with browned sage butter and Parmesan, braised chicken, and a caramelized baked apple pastry—a spread that’ll make for an exceptional dinner party for you and 14 other lucky attendees.
When: Monday, June 13, July 11, and August 8 (select Mondays every month), 6:30 PM
Where: 2148 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Brandy and Grappa Cocktail Classes at Rhine Hall
Sip the city's finest brandy and grappa straight while soaking up lessons on how various Rhine Hall spirits are distilled. You'll also explore flavor pairings and pick up tricks for mastering the tools of the trade—from how to properly shake and the benefits of different ice types to experimenting with shrubs, syrups, and exotic ingredients. Testing your newfound mixing skills (and those of the group) never tasted so good.
When: Saturday, May 28 and Saturday, June 11, 7 PM
Where: 2010 W. Fulton St., Chicago, IL 60612
Indian and Thai Cooking Classes at Naveen's Cuisine
Peppering the scene with charisma, patience, and a dash (or two) of humor, Chef Naveen leads this family-style culinary experience, using his mesmerizing knife skills to guide the way through Indian and Thai culture. Delve into South Asian essentials like spicy, gravy-based paneer tikka masala, and a heat-packing frontier chicken tempered by the sweetness of bell peppers over chawal, or rice. Take-home recipes are provided, should you manage to forget a few crucial details while downing the beers you brought.
When: Thursday, May 26, 6:30 PM–9:30 PM
Where: 2325 W. North Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
Summer Picnic at The Social Table
The best party starts with cracking open your favorite bottle of vino or beer, and the quintessential picnic involves buttermilk-fried chicken. Needless to say, the good times really roll when you bring all of this together in this little yellow house's kitchen. Create sweet summer memories over crispy chicken, green chile and Cheddar biscuits with whipped honey butter, kale and fried okra salad, apple-jicama slaw, and peach crisps with vanilla ice cream.
When: Thursday, June 23, 6:30 PM–9:30 PM
Where: 819 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614
French Settler Cajun Cuisine at Cook Au Vin
Within four hours, you'll craft a zesty Cajun feast, with dishes like fried alligator, savory cornmeal cakes with spicy remoulade, a traditional crawfish étouffée, and beignets Foster, a light New Orleans doughnut treat with Bourbon bananas Foster. But first, break bread (with wine, cheese, and charcuterie, of course) with Chef Vincent and your kitchen companions. BYOB, and BYO Tupperware.
When: Saturday, July 2, 6 PM–10 PM
Where: 2256 N. Elston Ave., Chicago, IL 60614
Cocktail Classes at The Violet Hour
A pioneering establishment in cocktail artistry, this speakeasy takes its rightful place in the culinary tutorial scene to educate the masses on the science of making delicious, nuanced cocktails at home. Learning the ropes with the geniuses who lead these group classes (typically taught once or twice per month) will be worth it. The proof will be in your friends' faces when you hand them a freshly mixed Juliet and Romeo and refine their palates with the Violet Hour classic gimlet with cucumber, mint, a pinch of salt, angostura bitters, and rose flower water.
When: Sunday, May 29 and Sunday, June 26 (select dates every month), 6 PM
Where: 1520 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Candy Bars from Scratch at Give Me Some Sugar
Store-bought candy bars will definitely do in a pinch, but whipping up your own chocolaty treats without ever putting on pants can be infinitely sweeter when the cravings hit. Discover how to take Instagram-worthy (and binge-worthy) peanut butter cups, "Chit-Chat" bars, Twixters, and Snicker-snackers from scratch with the sweet-tooth experts at this cake decorating studio. And don’t forget to bring a bottle of bubbly!
When: Wednesday, May 25 and Thursday, July 7, 6:30 PM–9 PM
Where: 2205 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL 60618