National Culinary Arts Month is upon us, and one of the most appropriate ways to celebrate is to get in the kitchen and start cooking.
Observed every year in July, the special month promotes awareness of culinary industry professionals and the work they do to bring novel cuisine from their kitchens to our tables.
For many individuals, the thought of cooking can seem daunting, but as with any art form, it simply takes practice.
Riviera Dining Group chef Michael Michaelidis said inside of every person, there is an artist.
“Some people really like to cook at home. They’ll be shy, you know, or worried to fail,” Michaelidis said. “But, cooking is about just training.”
And, training from the best in the business certainly has its benefits.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando’s executive chef Fabrizio Schenardi said the most important form of culinary education is to be in the field and learn from experienced chefs.
“The key is your own drive and hunger to learn,” Schenardi said. “And the best way to do that is in the kitchen with chefs who have years of knowledge to share.”
Luckily, Central Florida offers a variety of culinary classes to get started in discovering the chef inside of you.
Named by The Food Network as one of the top five cooking schools in the country, Marci Arthur’s Truffles and Trifles has been offering premium culinary education classes for almost 40 years.
Though Arthur started cooking with her grandmother at the early age of three, she fell into a different profession as she grew into an adult. Eventually, she realized it was not the right fit.
“I grew to hate it so much that I quit,” Arthur said. “And I started my cooking school.”
Arthur said she has always been sort of a teacher.
“I’ve always wanted to show people how to do things,” Arthur said.
And, for the month of July, Arthur has quite a few classes to do just that.
For adults, up and coming classes include Date Night — Beef and Bourbon, Basic Knife Skills, Date Night for Lovers, French Pastry and Dessert Techniques, Date Night — Gourmet Chef’s Table, Date Night — California Wine, and Macarons.
“Date nights are our most popular class,” Arthur said.
Along with the adult classes, Truffles and Trifles also offers classes and camps for kids.
“This year is our biggest ever for camp,” Arthur said. “We have 20 children in each camp.”
Arthur said the kids do really tough stuff in the class.
“They do adult recipes,” Arthur said. “We don’t do kid recipes.”
Teaching a child how to cook, Arthur said, is teaching love and education.
“It’s like music,” Arthur said. “It creates this mental ability for these children. So we say we’re teaching more than just cooking. We’re teaching life.”
More details: 711 W. Smith St. in Orlando; 407-648-0838
Tornatore’s Ristorante and Italian Market owner Maria Mancia has always been passionate about food and education. When she and restaurant partner Denny Tornatore developed an interest in taking educational classes, but could not find the type of class they wanted to take, the pair decided to create their own.
Now, Tornatore’s offers a variety of charcuterie and sommelier classes that are unique to the Orlando area.
“Basically, we travel around the country and the world,” Mancia said. “And so we were able to combine an experience I think, that is unique in Orlando, not only presenting cheeses from around the world, and, of course, cured meats and things of that nature, but also presenting it with the educational components.”
Mancia said during the classes, part of it is speaking on the geography, the history and the science behind the items.
In presenting this type of class, Mancia said, she and Tornatore are able to continue their personal growth in education and bring it to their classes.
Mancia said her love of culinary education started when she was a child.
“I grew up really, really poor, in Chicago with my mother,” Mancia said. “And despite the fact that we grew up in government housing, my mother made the food component of our existence magical.”
Mancia said it is important for the public to partake in educational classes because food brings people together.
“When you know where it comes from, when you know the history, the science behind it, I think it makes you appreciate what you’re eating more,” Mancia said. “And it helps you appreciate the people who prepare the food and create the food, as well as the people who grow the food. So I think it’s a full circle.”
Tornatore’s next Gourmet Charcuterie class will take place July 16. Tickets are $125 per person and can be reserved at 407-803-2885.
More details: 3818 Edgewater Drive in Orlando; 407-803-2885
Terralina Crafted Italian first began offering cooking classes for adults, but eventually decided to add kids into the mix.
“We were just kind of throwing around ideas and how to get people in,” executive chef Justin Plank said. “And we thought the kids would be kind of a fun thing to do.”
The restaurant now offers a monthly one-hour class, with Plank leading the way in teaching kids how to make a variety of Italian favorites.
Last month, the class theme was pizza-making, while the upcoming class July 30 will focus on making ravioli.
“I’m going to show them how to roll out ravioli dough and portion out little raviolis,” Plank said.
Plank said culinary classes are important not only because people like to expand their culinary knowledge, but also because they are helpful with the current economy.
“It’s a lot cheaper than going out to a restaurant,” Plank said.
Plank said he encourages everyone to give a cooking class a shot.
“It’s a very fun, interactive time,” Plank said. “And you get to eat some wonderful stuff and you get to take home what you made.”
More details: 1650 E. Buena Vista Drive in Lake Buena Vista; 407-939-5277
Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park has been serving up sweet treats on Park Avenue since 2001 and now offers chocolate camp and classes for those interested in learning how to make their own.
Peterbrooke’s owner Kevin Wray said the chocolate camps are offered 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout the summer.
“They come in, they get to dip and decorate, make molds, make all their own chocolate and they get well over a pound,” Wray said. “Then they get everything they made and put it in their own gift basket.”
The shop also offers privately booked parties throughout the year in which guests of any age can come to the shop, dip and decorate and make their own items to take home.
Wray said in the field of baking, there are a lot of different skills involved, so it is important to take classes.
“If you want to move further, you got to increase your skills,” Wray said.
More details: 300 S. Park Ave. in Winter Park; 407-664-3200
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