Sharpen your kitchen skills and build your recipe repertoire by taking a baking or cooking class at one of these 10 top spots.
By Amy Traverso
Mar 17 2020
Stonewall’s state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen.Photo Credit : Courtesy of Stonewall Kitchen
American cooking schools got their start in 1879, when the Boston Cooking School first opened its doors. Within a few years, Fannie Farmer had taken over as principal, and American cooking was forever changed.
Fast-forward to today’s world of #instafood, Chopped marathons, and Binging with Babish, and it’s no surprise that culinary schools and food tours make up one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry. What better way to boost your skills, eat like a native, meet new friends, and, most important, gain confidence in the kitchen?
To that end, we present our list of the 10 best New England places in New England to take a cooking class, representing all six states. We focused here on places with great reputations, a good range of topics, and regular offerings. However, if you’d like to learn specific cooking skills — from wood-fired cooking to cheese making to butchering — check out our guide to do-it-yourself classes in New England.
Founder Heide Lang studied at the French Culinary Institute in New York, but her classical training is underscored by a practical understanding of the day-to-day demands of home cooking (and by her role as editor in chief of Fine Cooking magazine). The topics of her hands-on classes for 12 to 15 students range from regional (“Dinner in Florence”) to seasonal (“Pumpkin Mania”) to practical (“Dinner in 20 Minutes”).
Annemarie Ahearn spent childhood summers in Maine and worked at several top restaurants in New York before she and her family decided to build a gorgeous hilltop recreational cooking school and farm. Here, you can take single cooking classes or three-day workshops, with an emphasis on seasonal flavors from the on-site garden. Whether it’s pies and bread, pasta, or meat and fish, the goal is to help you master the fundamentals so you’ll have the confidence to improvise in your own kitchen.
At the hugely popular flagship store/café/school of this venerable gourmet foods company, demonstration classes are taught every day except Monday, and twice a day on weekends. The faculty is varied (everyone from Stonewall faculty to visiting cookbook authors and celebrity chefs), as are the topics. Want to learn how to bake a perfect cake, roll pasta, grill ribs, or cook Moroccan? There’s a class for that.
Don’t Miss:“For the Love of Apples” cooking class and cookbook signing on Friday, September 20th, led by Amy Traverso, Senior Food Editor and author of The Apple Lovers’ Cookbook.
BU is the rare university with a culinary certificate program (as well as a graduate program in gastronomy), and its pedigree is unbeatable. Founding director Rebecca Alssid built her department with help from Julia Child and Jacques Pépin, the latter of whom remains active with the school. The free-to-the-public seminars, hands-on classes, and lectures range in topic from “The Flavors of Anatolia” to “Vanishing Bees: Science, Politics, and Honeybee Health” to “Amazing Antipasti,” a workshop taught by PBS star Mary Ann Esposito.
It’s hard to beat the variety of offerings at this local institution. From a one-off class on home canning or gluten-free bread-baking to couples’ classes to multiweek seminars on essentials like knife skills and baking, the recreational program at CCS can turn you from can’t-boil-water novice to a seasoned cook ready for your own food show (there’s also a professional certificate program if you want to go farther).
After more than two decades of running the James Beard Award–winning restaurant Sanford in his native Milwaukee, Sanford “Sandy” D’Amato relocated to western Massachusetts with his wife, Angela, to write, farm, and teach. Their classes, which can be either demonstration or hands-on, filter global flavors through a local sensibility, so the Mexican corn and sweet garlic soup is made with Hatfield’s finest, and area farms provide much of the other produce in season. The D’Amatos also offer three-day culinary getaways with longer classes, visits to local farms and markets, and wine tastings. Classes sell out quickly, so be sure to book ahead.
After running his own Seacoast restaurants for 30 years, chef Ron Boucher left to become a full-time teacher, both at his eponymous cooking school and at the University of New Hampshire’s hospitality school. At his Durham location, Boucher teaches hands-on classes with a global scope: an Octoberfest feast one week, an Italian shellfish feast the next. Meanwhile, students in Hampton can pursue more comprehensive multiweek courses on everything from cooking fundamentals to bistro classics.
This program is unique in that the luxury resort Ocean House doesn’t keep a set schedule of classes; rather, students can choose from a menu of hands-on classes and book them in advance for groups as small as two. Topics range from pasta making to crudo to preserves, and wine classes draw from the hotel’s 8,000-bottle collection.
Don’t Miss:Farm + Vine: Women & Wine dinner featuring Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery on Thursday, November 7th, hosted by Amy Traverso, Senior Food Editor and author of The Apple Lovers’ Cookbook.
It’s all baking, all the time at Vermont’s most famous culinary center, though “baking” also encompasses savories such as pierogi, potpies, and pizza. On most days, you can choose between two hands-on class options (three or four on weekends), which means you can spend the morning learning advanced bread-baking techniques and finish out the afternoon mastering British scones and sticky toffee pudding.
Gesine Bullock-Prado worked as a movie producer in Hollywood before moving to Vermont to pursue her love of pastry. Today, she stars in her own Food Network series, Baked in Vermont; writes cookbooks; and teaches intimate hands-on classes on macarons, perfect pies, puff pastries, and strudel, to name a few. And she does it in the beautiful converted carriage house of a historic tavern.