Cooking With Class

Learn how to cook from some of Chicago's top chefs


Stepping up your kitchen prowess doesn't have to mean reading stacks of cookbooks and watching the Food Network for hours on end. Pick up some cooking tips and add some new recipes to your repertoire by taking some of the fun, interactive classes taught at some of Chicago's hottest restaurants and catering companies by some of the city's most talented chefs. This month alone, you can learn how to make such dishes as spring rolls, sushi and even proper pizza dough.

At Wicker Park's Cooking Fools, too many cooks in the kitchen is never a problem. The catering and cooking events company hosts monthly classes at its sprawling facility, which also boasts a retail store packed with all the kitchen gadgets and utensils you crave. Coming up on Cooking Fools' calendar are classes teaching participants how to prepare a variety of international dumplings (6:30-9PM, Tuesday, April 14, $75 per person), the basics of sushi (6:30-9PM, Monday, April 20, $80) and the secrets of pasta making (6:30-9PM, Tuesday, April 28, $75). Beer and wine are available for purchase by the glass for each of these events.

It's the perfect time of year for light, flavorful spring rolls, so head to Koi in Evanston at 11:30AM on Saturday, April 18 for a spring roll class. Executive chef Bing Zhou and wife and Koi co-owner Sandy Chen will lead guests through some of the restaurant's most popular spring roll recipes from different Asian cultures, including Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese versions. Participants of the class will also receive a $20 gift certificate to use on their next visit to Koi. The spring roll class costs $5 per person and includes the instruction, samples and mimosas. 

La Madia's monthly cooking class series teaches students the art of Italian cuisine, one dish at a time. On Saturday, April 25 from 11AM-1PM, chef-owner Jonathan Fox will walk guests through proper pizza making techniques. Watch and learn as Fox creates classic artisan pizza dough and demonstrates the correct stretching methods. You'll be making margherita pizza with La Madia's signature tomato sauce, as well as wild winter mushroom pizza. You'll of course get to sample your work along with paired wines, and Fox will discuss the merits of both wood-burning oven firing and home oven baking. You'll even get a take-home pizza kit to try to replicate your work. The class is $30, which includes the instruction, samples and wine pairings, and the pizza kit. 

Red Light chef Jackie Shen is teaming up with Tracey Vowel of Three Sisters Farm and Cosmo Ferraro of Cosmo Ferraro Landscaping to present an organic garden-to-table cooking class on Saturday, April 25. Vowel will be on hand to talk about the importance of buying locally and organically grown produce and will bring ingredients from the farm to use in the instruction. Vowel and Shen will create such dishes as a fresh sprout salad, pork and chicken with Asian mole sauce and fresh rhubarb cobbler. Local landscaping expert Ferraro will also teach guests how to grow and maintain their own urban gardens, from rooftops to potted plants. The class, which begins at 11:30AM, is $35 per person to attend.

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