Five Cooking Classes to Try

Allison Austin Scheff stirs up the top make-it-from-scratch cooking classes
Allison Austin Scheff  |   July 2013   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
Julie Steil (in black) leads a cheesemaking class at River Valley Ranch near Fall City

From knife skills and sauce-making to party food and basic meal prep, Seattle has long had a passionate interest in cooking classes, whether at Kirkland’s Sur la Table, PCC stores or dedicated cooking schools such as Blue Ribbon Cooking and Diane’s Market Kitchen. Lately, though, as our food culture has re-embraced cooking from scratch, a slew of classes teaching artisanal cooking techniques have popped up in small, intimate venues. Want to make your own cheese, butter, pickles, pizza dough, even mustard? Read on.

Cooking is Fundamental

At The Pantry at Delancey, the private cooking-class space owned by Brandon Pettit of Delancey pizza fame (he also owns Essex, the craft cocktail bar next door) and pastry chef Brandi Henderson, everything is decorated just so. The look is Martha Stewart chic: white subway tile, stacks of white porcelain dishes on open antique cabinet shelving and an expansive black walnut table with pool-blue metal stools anchoring the space. There, 12 to 14 lucky students are equipped with linen aprons, knives and wood chopping board, and then class begins. An array of lessons—past class topics have included Turkish food, perfect pizza crust, soufflés, salads, craft cocktails and paella—are taught by a varied cast of expert cooks, including Pettit, Henderson, bartender Anna Wallace, private chef/author Becky Selengut and many others, who happily showcase their from-scratch techniques (such as homemade mustard and surprisingly easy homemade mayo). There’s wine and beer to sip, and students are encouraged to participate as much (or as little) as they like. Once it’s finished cooking, the food is served family style, and more wine is poured. The classes almost always sell out within days of being announced, so sign up for the newsletter on The Pantry’s website to get the first crack at them. About $75. Ballard, 1417 NW 70th St. (enter through the garden behind Delancey); 206.436.1064; thepantryatdelancey.com

Roll and Crimp
Mike Easton’s intimate pasta classes at Pioneer Square’s Il Corvo
have proved so popular, he doesn’t even advertise them anymore. During the classes, held by request only on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons for groups of six to eight students, Easton demonstrates how to make pasta dough from water, egg and flour, as well as how to make two or three hand-formed shapes such as orecchiette, shaped like an ear, and cavatelli, a crimped pasta that’s hand-rolled into the shape of a hot dog bun. All the while, Easton has a roast or fish cooking in the oven; that’ll be the second course (his classes usually include a meal). First, a bowl of that fresh pasta (he even tells you how to make a simple but luscious tomato sauce). Throughout the three to four hours of class time, students sip good Italian wine, of course. Bonus: If pasta’s not your thing, Easton is happy to lead special butchery and bacon-making classes, too. Starting at $75/person. Pioneer Square, 217 James St.; 206.538.0999; ilcorvopasta.com

Dine and Drink
Still mourning last year’s closure of Le Gourmand, Ballard’s fine French-Northwest prix fixe parlor? Dry those eyes: Chef and owner Bruce Naftaly still hosts seasonally focused cooking classes nearly every Sunday (and some Mondays) in the restaurant’s kitchen. Ideal for students who’d rather not get their hands dirty, in these classes as many as 18 students sit in folding chairs in the restaurant’s tidy, compact kitchen, sipping French wine and chatting with the affable Naftaly as he prepares four seasonal courses using classic French cooking techniques. As each of the four courses is prepared, plated dishes are passed to the students, and Naftaly moves onto the next. Naftaly’s knowledge of ingredients is bookish; his expertise on foraged, local foods is unparalleled. At the end of the three-hour class, you’ll have dined at Le Gourmand for a fraction of what the restaurant once charged, all while picking up a few tricks from the master chef. $75, includes the four-course meal, class and wine. Ballard, 425 NW Market St.; 206.784.3463; legourmandrestaurant.com

Learn and Lunch
At Rachael Coyle’s Lunch Break cooking classes, held every Monday from noon until 1 p.m. at Fremont’s Book Larder ($25), Seattle’s only cookbook-exclusive book shop, the theme changes every week. But that doesn’t mean Coyle, a former Herbfarm pastry chef, isn’t supremely artisanal in her approach. At a recent class on homemade dumplings, not only did Coyle demonstrate how to make dumpling wrappers from scratch, she then rolled out each dumpling wrapper, filled it, pan-fried it and served it with a dipping sauce made with her own homemade chili oil. The classes aren’t hands-on, but they’re small enough (about 10 people can fit around the counter) that students can easily see and ask questions about every move she makes—plus, you get a full lunch. Lunch Break classes are $25. Fremont, 4252 Fremont Ave. N; 206.397.4271; booklarder.com

Make Cheese
At Julie Steil’s hands-on cheese-making classes, held at her Fall City–area River Valley Ranch, students spend two to three hours learning how to make two types of cheese (mozzarella, Tallegio, Stilton, Manchego, Parmesan, Brie, blue cheese, cheddar—the list goes on, so see the website for the full lineup and schedule). Steil left her property management career in 2005, opting instead to raise animals on 20 acres in the country. Since then, her cheese-making passion has grown to the point that she now teaches classes every week, walking small groups of students through the making of cheeses, using milk from Jersey and Guernsey cattle, goats, sheep, water buffalo and yaks. Students get to snack on all the cheese they want during class, and afterward take home one of each of the cheeses made in class. Want to taste the wares before you take a class? Pick up a wedge or a wheel of River Valley Cheese—the Naughty Nellie, a tomme cheese bathed in Pike Brewing Company’s Naughty Nellie ale, is especially good—at PCC. $145. Fall City, 34920 SE Fall City–Snoqualmie Road; 425.222.5277; rivervalleycheese.com

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