Kitchen Magic: Recreational Cooking Classes Flavor Virginia Visits

by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted: Dec 19, 2014 | Updated: Mar 2, 2016

Comments: 4 Comments

Food gives one a sense of place; find what the locals love to eat, and you find out a lot about their culture.

Well beyond the mere act of eating, an even more intimate knowledge of a place comes when you walk through markets, hold produce in your hand, and prepare the food with a foodway – or method – that is a local custom.

Cooking schools are a great place to get a first-hand experience of a people and their food, and across Virginia there are many opportunities to learn from others.

Here are six picks for cooking classes across the commonwealth to bone up on cooking for the year ahead.

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm


The Venue:

Culinary Institute of Virginia

The Culinary Institute of Virginia offers several degreed two- and four-year programs at two campuses in Coastal Virginia as well as a large assortment of recreational classes called Casual Gourmet. These are taught by chef instructors in commercial kitchens at both the Newport News and Norfolk campuses.

A class that caught our eye:

Sushi Making for Beginners, offered March 22. While this class is on the adventurous side of culinary exploration, it will teach you to make an impressive spread for friends and family. Chef Kelly DeMarchena demonstrate show to make Nigiri-Zushi, Temaki-Zushi, and the basic yet delicious California roll.

The Kitchen at Whittingham


The Venue:

Southern Season

This southern chain of gourmet goods opened recently in Richmond with a store full of tempting treats and a recreational cooking school that offers frequent classes for adults and children in a comfortable, approachable setting. Sign up for a class today.

A class that caught our eye:

Technique Mystique on April 7. Taught by Chef Shellie Kark, this class will improve your culinary techniques. From braising to sautéing, you’ll learn kitchen shortcuts that help you master the art of cooking. The menu includes caramelized apples, spinach and gruyere tart, and ratatouille a la minute.



The Venue:

The Happy Cook

Since 1978, this quaint store offers a good assortment of what’s needed for a well-stocked foodie home, from serving pieces to cookware to cookbooks.

They say, “The Happy Cook has been known for over 35 years as an inspirational and energizing place to shop, create and bring life lasting memories in the home and in the kitchen.” Find a class that fits your interest.

A class that caught our eye:

Ramen and Dumpings, offered March 24. Enjoy a fun evening learning how to make these delicious Japanese dishes. Ereina Avery teaches the class how to make Gyoza, pork and cabbage dumplings, and Shoyu Ramen with Chashu Pork. Call to book in advance, as there are only 20 seats available for this event!



The Venue:

Cookology Recreational Culinary School

Located in Dulles Town Center, a wide array of classes geared towards adults and children are offered in commercial kitchen settings.

“The goal is simply to inspire people to connect with friends and family over a great meal,” they say.

A class that caught our eye:

Handmade Pizza, offered March 20. Chef Tony Kavalieros will show you how to make your own crusts and sauces, topped with fresh ingredients like mushrooms and pancetta, to create tasty homemade pizzas.

gourmet pantry


The Venue:

Gourmet Pantry & Cooking School

This gourmet retail store doubles as a premiere cooking school, with monthly classes aimed at teaching Virginians how to hone their culinary skills. The Gourmet Pantry & Cooking School teaches classes at every skill level, from beginner to expert chef. The school also offers private parties and events for groups that have a specific theme or skill level in mind.

A class that caught our eye:

Grilling on April 27. Things are heating up in this culinary workshop! This class covers the basics of grilling, healthy and tasty recipes you can prepare, and tips for cooking meats and vegetables on the grill. Get ready for summer with this hot cooking class!

Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center Cooking Classes


The Venue:

Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center

Located in Abingdon, the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center provides non-credit culinary classes, giving everyone access to these seminars. There are classes for most every age and skill level, including select children’s classes for the kids and preteens interested in learning cooking skills early on.

A class that caught our eye:

A Taste for Burgers, offered April 11. Chef Joe Deel from the Bristol Burger Bar demonstrates how to make the perfect burger at home. This course covers how to choose the right beef, whipping up complimentary sauces, using seasonings to enhance flavor, and other secrets to grilling this all-American favorite. Book your class today.

fresh food


Want to make the most of your cooking class experience? Here are a few tips:

– Scope out classes and find those that you have a true interest in, whether it is learning more about a favorite subject, or learning a new cuisine or technique you’ve always wanted to master.

– Some classes are hands-on, while some are demonstration-style. Make sure the class you are taking offers the approach you are most comfortable with

– Will there be heavy sampling of prepared dishes at the class? A full meal? Wine? Think about these factors especially if the class takes place around a mealtime.

– Consider taking the class with a family member or friend – or even make it a group event with other like-minded foodies for even more fun.

– Register early; classes often sell-out. Verify with the venue the cancellation policies, too, in case they or you need to back out.

– Especially if the class is hands on: wear comfortable, closed toe, slip-resistant shoes; don’t wear jewelry to class; have something to pull your hair back or to cover it if necessary.

– Network with other foodies at the class, ask lots of questions, don’t forget to take your handouts and recipes home with you, and have fun.




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samirmeldridge99Patrick Evans-HyltonPatricia C. Ross Recent comment authors
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woow great post


You should check out Culinara in Vienna, VA

Patricia C. Ross

I grew up in Vietnam and my mom made fried rice a lot when I was a kid. Fried rice is an easy breakfast dish made from leftovers for us. We used leftover rice (best when it’s cold, just out of the fridge), leftover meat or ham (diced), scallions or garlic, veggies (peas and carrots work fine), eggs, and seasoned with soy, fish, or oyster sauce. This is a good recipe but you can make it even easier by cooking more rice than you need the day(s) before. I use this basic recipe to make fried rice for my kids… Read more »