The start of a new year is a time to make resolutions (I will eat better!), save money (I will forgo take out!) and embark on new journeys (I will eat better and save money by learning how to cook!). Here is a roundup of various cooking classes taking place throughout January that are sure to spur some creative culinary ideas in your own kitchen.
In addition to the mind-boggling array of paid-admission cooking classes at both locations of the Chopping Block, the Merchandise Mart outpost is also hosting several free courses throughout the month of January. Starting on Friday, Jan. 2, learn how to make homemade stock for all of your winter-weather soups, stews and sauces; on Thursday, Jan. 15, get the ins and outs of stocking your pantry with essential tools, ingredients and equipment; and on Friday, Jan. 30 you'll be schooled in the art of "Sweet and Savory Scones." All free classes are held from 3-4PM.
Soup up your new year at Vong's Thai Kitchen in River North, where you'll get a first-hand look at how to make several of the restaurant's specialty soups on Saturday, Jan. 10. A three-course lunch follows the hands-on instruction, and students get goody bags and recipes to take home.
Spend an Italian-style Saturday afternoon cooking and drinking wine in the kitchen of La Madia. The River North restaurant hosts a winter cooking class and wine tasting from 11AM-1PM on the third Saturday of each month from January through March. The Saturday, Jan. 17 event kicks off the series with a crash course in pizza, with La Madia chef/owner Jonathan Fox breaking down the basics of classic artisan pizza dough and stretching techniques. The menu includes margherita and wild mushroom pizzas, which guests can try with paired wines for $30 per person.
Go behind the scenes at Carlos' Restaurant in Highland Park as chef Ramiro Velasquez holds an up-close-and-personal cooking class in the restaurant's kitchen on Wednesday, Jan. 21 at 10:45AM. After Velasquez demonstrates his culinary talents, guests can feast on a three-course lunch served with wine for $65. Afterwards, everyone will go home with recipes to try out on their own. (Carlos' classes take place the third Wednesday of every month.)