Cooking classes are an ideal gift for that someone interested in and inspired by food, and Toronto boasts a fantastic range of workshops and courses to take advantage of. Anyone who can boil an egg regularly needs to update their skills and learn new tricks in the kitchen; half of the pleasure of food is the joy of preparation, rather than seeing it as a means to an end. To celebrate the holiday season, along with finding new hobbies to stimulate our stomachs, the Toronto Standard outlines some of the city’s best cooking classes. Don’t thank us – just invite us to dinner sometime.
Fully Nourished: Marni Wasserman is a certified nutritional practitioner and chef. Her instructive cooking classes and workshops are held in her home school, focusing on whole foods and nutritional education. Diet-specific classes include Gourmet & Gluten Free, CalciYum and Heart Healthy recipes and preparation methods. Marni organizes her three-hour classes for 4-8 people around organic, seasonal recipes with regional cuisine that features Moroccan, Indian, Mediterranean and Asian flavours. Cost: $105* Student Rate: $75. Come with your child (under 18): $160 for two. Come with a partner: $180 for two. 647-477-8131.
Bonnie Stern School of Cooking: Bestselling cookbook writer, columnist and teacher Bonnie Stern has been a leader in culinary education for over 30 years. She has taught classes around the world and now enjoys sharing her culinary skills at various locations. Every month she hosts a literary food event dubbed Bonnie’s Book Club, inviting a cookbook author, editor or publisher to chat with the public. Bonnie’s cooking classes range from 25-30 people and focus on how to make healthy and delicious food with local ingredients. Bonnie also runs private cooking events involving talks and demos with nutritionists, etiquette experts and notable Canadian authors – an ideal gift to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. Cost: $118 plus HST (subject to change). Bonnie Stern & Rabbi Elyse Goldstein. Advance registration only: 416-638-1881 ext 4235. Private events: 416-484-4810 for detailed information.
Dish Cooking Studio: Trish Magwood is a chef and teacher as well as the creator and host of the television show Party Dish. She also runs her minor empire: a cooking school, gourmet caf, boutique kitchen store and catering service. With a market-to-table philosophy, Trish uses top-quality, seasonal ingredients to create globally inspired dishes. Her classes enable you to learn and understand the rudiments of complex flavours from cuisines around the world, as well as tips on cooking meat and fish. Class sizes are intimate. Cost: $125-$175. 90 Dupont St. (two blocks west of Spadina Avenue). 416-920-5559.
The Big Carrot: This worker-owned co-operative is a landmark Toronto health food store stocking organically grown, GMO-free produce. Their cooking classes include the 100 Mile Diet, vegetarian meals, gluten-free baking, Eastern medicinal cooking and raw desserts, as well as some devoted to specific dietary needs and physical conditions. Registered nutritional consultants and holistic medicine practitioners teach classes. Class size: eight people, maximum. Cost of a single Tuesday class: $70.00 + HST, 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. 348 Danforth Avenue. 416-466-2129.
Cirillo’s Culinary Academy: The multi-award-winning chef teaches the basics of making pastas and sauces, Chinese cuisine, Spanish tapas and healthy cooking. Classes are organized for individuals, couples, kids, groups and families with a maximum size of 24. 4894 Dundas Street West. 647-430-8795.
Lisa’s Kitchen: Lisa Bixel teaches a variety of classes in nutrition, alternate food choices and preparation of detoxifying dishes with raw ingredients. Lisa offers instruction for meals devoid of wheat, dairy and sugar and how to change eating habits for health benefits and humanitarian reasons. Class sizes are restricted to eight people. 388 Carlaw Ave. 416-406-1101.
Apona Healing Arts: Lidia Kuleshnyk is a health and lifestyle consultant and member of the Macrobiotic Educators Association. Her classes include one on integrating macrobiotic foods into your daily diet, so as to create appetizing meals that are both tasty and healing. Classes are restricted to five people. 416-964-8885.
Urban Living: The Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts at George Brown College offers weekend cooking classes, hosted by well-known chefs and nutritional experts. Call 416-415-5000 for inquiries.
Arvinda’s Healthy Gourmet Indian Cooking: If you’re after some real in-depth Indian cooking, then Arvinda’s is the class to take. Arvinda Chauhan and her daughter Preena have been hosting this hugely successful cooking course in Toronto since 1993, teaching students the skills to create truly authentic Indian cuisine. The approach is healthy and traditional with foods that boost well-being. Each class suggests that the philosophy of whatever you eat is a reflection on your mind, body and spirit. As well as the classes, Arvinda’s offers a walking tour of Toronto’s Little India community, giving students an insight on where to source the best ingredients. Classes range from 6-20 people and private ones are also available on demand. Cost: $65-85.
Aphrodite Cooks: Cooking classes with a twist. Aphrodite hosts singles supper club events for various age groups, gay men and lesbians, allowing people to socialize while learning about a range of cooking styles from around the world. All classes are taught by trained chefs and use fresh, seasonal ingredients, culminating in a collective dinner party. Romantic encounters are not guaranteed. Class numbers range from 20-30. Private parties also available. 416-792-3212.
Culinarium: The unique gourmet food store in midtown Toronto advertises itself as a trusted source for local food, bolstered by a team of passionate foodies. Their motto is “All Ontario, All the Time.” The series of cooking classes blends this approach with cultivation of useful and practical skills, covering the marvels you can create with various meats; vegetables, grains and pulses; even jam, chutney and preserve-making. Other classes specialize in tasting menus and food pairing – what cheese goes best with certain wines or beers. Cost: $69-$106. 647-430-7004.
The Healthy Butcher: If you want to know how to handle meat like the pros, a butcher would seem the right person to ask. The Healthy Butcher hosts classes on chopping, dissecting and carving various meats, including venison, elk, chicken and spatchcock. Class sizes usually range from 10-20 people. There are also knife skills workshops for learning how to keep your blades in optimum sharpness. Cost: $80-$100.
The Good Egg: This Kensington Market shop is not only a wonderful source of cookbooks but also hosts some great workshops, including knife skills, dinner-party hosting, pasta making, canning, fermenting, baking and a beginner’s class on the basics of cooking. Class numbers are kept small. Cost: $75-$100.
Calphalon: In addition to making a range of superb kitchenware and knives, this company runs cooking classes at their downtown Toronto location near Spadina and King Street. Taught both by demonstration and hands-on work, the classes differ according to season and the hardware being sold. Cooking for Beginners, Beef 101 and Sauting & Pan Frying are but a few of the available sessions. Cost: $70-$200. 416-847-2212.
Great Cooks: With two downtown locations in Toronto, classes are designed both for individuals and corporate groups and priced accordingly. Along with basic food preparation, the scope of courses includes usage of local food and wines, Italian country cooking like pizzas and risotto, plus other global flavours such as Indian and Moroccan. There’s one on delectable desserts, too. 416-861-4333.
Viva Tastings: Karen Viva-Haynes is both a chef and caterer and runs cooking classes and corporate team-building events, teaching rudimentary culinary skills, vegetarian and vegan recipes and holiday party planning. Cost: single classes are $90, which includes a sit-down meal & glass of wine. 416-506-0054.
Nella Cucina: Nella got their start renting out restaurant supplies and sharpening knives, but over the years they have expanded into cooking instruction. From their location at Bathurst and Bloor, Nella Cucina teaches basic kitchen skills and seasonal recipes to curious home cooks. At Christmas they also have kid-friendly cooking classes for the family. Cost:$75-$125. 416-922-9055.
Toronto District School Board: If you’re looking for affordable cooking classes at day or night, the Toronto District School Board holds a hearty series of health-conscious sessions ranging from Indian, Mediterranean and Thai cuisine to vegetarian food, cake decoration and wine regions of the world. Each course meets weekly and can last up to 11 weeks, taking place at various locations around the city. Cost: $20-30 per class. 416-481-6043.
George Brown Continuing Education: For those home cooks who want to glean some of a pro chef’s talents, George Brown offers numerous evening courses and certificate programs. The curriculum is broad, catering to all tastes and desires, from entry-level knife skills to French farmhouse meals to “Carbon Footprint Cooking” and “Fast Life, Slow Food.” To obtain a certificate, students can take six different classes in various disciplines. Cost: $200-$400. 416-415-5000.
St. Lawrence Market Kitchen: Many already know that St. Lawrence Market is Toronto’s great food emporium, but after the recent renovation of the southern building’s mezzanine level it now houses a plethora of cooking classes and food-related events throughout the year. Check the monthly listings. Classes run between two-to-three hours and cost $50.