9 places to find cooking classes in the Madison area
Get cooking with the help of Madison teachers
There’s no shortage of options for dining out in Madison, but sometimes you just want to channel your inner Julia Child and prepare a restaurant-worthy meal at home. For times like these, lean heavily on Madison’s bounty of knowledgeable culinary instructors and the wide variety of cooking classes they lead across the city. No matter if you’ve never boiled water or already make a mean coq au vin, there are plenty of classes to choose from for a range of skill sets. Whether you want to master the macaron, knead pizza dough or learn to chiffonade chard, there’s likely a class for you.
All Through the House
Stoughton kitchen supply store All Through The House has hosted cooking classes for 19 years. “Our instructors are our main draw – people just love them,” says All Through the House manager Kim Walter. “They cook good food and know how to teach it.” The demonstration-style classes are seasonally tuned. Winter classes might focus on soups and stews while spring classes will feature more salads. All Through The House offers an average of two classes a week, and with no more than 11 participants per session, classes have an intimate, relaxed vibe. With food, a glass of wine and a shopping discount included in the price of the class, “you can make a whole night of it,” says Walter. $48/$55, 160 E. Main St., Stoughton, shopthehouse.com/cooking-classes/class-schedule
DelecTable at VomFASS
DelecTable is a one-of-a-kind event and demonstration kitchen space located inside University Avenue’s vomFASS, an international retail store dedicated to vinegars, oils, spices, gourmet foods and spirits. DelecTable offers baking and cooking classes led by experienced instructors, including Punky Egan and Joel Olson. Egan, a certified master baker, taught professional baking classes at Madison College for 30 years. At DelecTable, Egan leads classes on tempting sweets like chocolate truffles, boozy desserts and macarons (French cookies with few ingredients but a technical method of preparation). “Great British Baking Show,” here you come! Chef Olson, a nationally recognized culinary instructor, leads classes like French Surf and Turf, where participants help prepare and enjoy dishes like classic bouillabaisse (a traditional Provençal fish stew) and mushroom gratin. During class, cocktails, like a sour cherry ginger manhattan, are available for purchase, too. So go ahead, it’s how Jacques Pepin would do it. $25/$49, 3248 University Ave., delectablexp.com
Learning Kitchen at UW Health
With the mantra “food is medicine,” the Learning Kitchen at UW Health at The American Center offers community cooking classes to people who want to learn how to prepare delicious meals at home that support a healthy lifestyle. “So much of your health is what you eat,” says Emily Kumlien, media strategist at UW Health. “It matters what you eat in your 20s and 30s for health later in life.” Chefs and registered dietitians lead classes at the Learning Kitchen, a fully equipped classroom kitchen. During the hands-on classes, participants make three to five dishes and get to take home leftovers. Kumlien says one of the most popular workshops teaches participants how to make sushi at home. Other classes include a farmers’ market class where participants learn how to make a pizza with made-from-scratch marinara sauce and a low-carb, high-protein class with menu items like a spinach frittata and cauliflower salad. $35-$45, 4602 Eastpark Blvd., uwhealth.org/yoga-swimming-cooking/demonstration-kitchen-cooking/46073
Madison College’s Chef Series
When Kyle Cherek, host of Wisconsin Public Television’s Emmy Award-winning show “Wisconsin Foodie,” signed on to host Madison College’s 2018-2019 Chef Series, it was a clear signal that Madison College was taking the series up a notch. Presented by Madison College’s Center for Entrepreneurship, each event in the eight-session series focuses on the entrepreneurial journeys of chefs, including Seth VanderLaan – chef at Milwaukee’s Miller Park – and the challenges they have faced along the way. The first event of the 2018-19 series last October featured Madison College Culinary Arts graduate Justin Carlisle, the James Beard Foundation award-nominated chef and owner of Ardent in Milwaukee. Events will feature methods of food preparation, a cooking demonstration and appetizers prepared by the chefs. The series is free for Madison College students, and nonstudents pay $35. Space is limited, so registration is encouraged. Free for students/$35 for nonstudents, 1701 Wright St., madisoncollege.edu/program/culinary-arts
Budding bread bakers – and those hoping to score sourdough starter mix – should be on the lookout for the sourdough bread baking classes that pop up sporadically one or two times per month. Often led by head baker and owner Andrew Hutchison, the classes are held on Sunday evenings from 4 to 7 p.m. The classes also include a light dinner (usually pizza and wine). Participants learn how to make a loaf of sourdough, get to take one home and also get a starter, which is the bubbly, fermented mix of flour, water and oxygen that will feed all your future loaves. $60, 916 Williamson St., madisonsourdough.com
Orange Tree Imports
Orange Tree Imports hosts one of the longest-standing cooking schools in Madison. For more than 35 years, home cooks have been heading to this kitchen supply store on Monroe Street for intimate, informal classes covering a wide range of topics. Space is limited and classes fill up quickly, so reserve your spot early. For the cost of a dinner at a nice restaurant, participants will gain cooking skills, take home new recipes and enjoy some delicious food. Led by local chefs and cooking experts, classes cover pizza, elegant holiday buffets, Indian cuisine, dumplings, bread baking, soups, pies and more. Class participants also receive an in-store discount, so it’s a good time to splurge on that kitchen gadget you’ve had your eye on. $50, 1721 Monroe St., orangetreeimports.com/events
Wheelhouse Studios is an open art studio located in the lower level of the Memorial Union on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Each season, Wheelhouse offers a variety of classes on clay, fabric, dance, photography and – our favorite – food. While there aren’t any cooking classes slated this spring, Wheelhouse is open to proposals. In the past, the art studio has hosted hands-on classes on knife skills, comfort foods (like onion soup), handmade chocolates, Indian vegetarian cooking and side dishes like orzo with Gorgonzola walnut sauce. Most classes at Wheelhouse Studios are open to the public. Union members (and students) receive a $10 discount. Also check out Wheelhouse’s weekly “Wednesday Wine” classes. $29.50-$39.50 for Union members/$39.50-$49.50 for non-members, 800 Langdon St., union.wisc.edu/events-and-activities/open-art-studio-and-classes/
Huma Siddiqui founded the White Jasmine cooking school in 2003 when she wanted to share her knowledge of flavors from her native country of Pakistan with people in the Madison area. White Jasmine classes pop up around the Madison area at venues including the Sun Prairie Public Library and Orange Tree Imports. These popular, demonstration-style classes cover topics like Indian breads and vegetarian dishes. Siddiqui and her son, Samir Karimi, who is now co-owner, will also arrange cooking demonstrations for private groups. Custom menus are available for birthday parties, team-building activities at your workplace or whatever idea you cook up for an informative – and tasty – cooking-themed event. $35-$50, 402 Blue View Drive, Mount Horeb, whitejasmine.com/pages/cooking-classes
Willy Street Co-op
The Willy Street Co-op – now in three Madison locations — first opened on Williamson “Willy” Street in 1974. A full-service natural foods grocery store, the Willy Street Co-op also offers many cooking classes each month for reasonable rates (usually $10 for co-op owners and $20 for non-owners.) Local instructors, including chef Paul Tseng and “The Kids Chef” Lily Kilfoy, who teaches classes for young chefs and adults alike, lead the hands-on classes with topics that include cooking with vegetable roots, making Southeast Asian street food, creating herbal tonics, working with Sichuan noodles and fermenting foods. With the amount of knowledge (and food) that participants get in these classes, the options at Willy Street might just offer the most bang for your buck. Classes are held at all three co-op locations. Check the store’s website for an event calendar. $10-$20 for co-op owners/$20-$30 for non-owners, 1221 Williamson St., 6825 University Ave., 2817 N. Sherman Ave., willystreet.coop/events
Erica Krug is a Madison-based food writer for Madison Magazine.
Cooking requires practice – for some, reaching for the spatula or salt requires little more than muscle memory. For others, not so much. A few Madison chefs act as culinary tutors to help budding chefs find their way around their own kitchens through private, in-home cooking lessons.
At these in-home classes, you supply a clean kitchen and utensils, and the chef brings the recipes. Some instructors – like chef Joel Olson of Hemmachef – offer parent-child sessions and classes for young chefs.
Lily Kilfoy, also known as The Kids Chef, coaches children as young as 5, and she focuses on healthy recipes using seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Grown-up cooks can turn to Mad City Chefs‘ date night courses to take their taste buds on a trip to France or Italy. Classes cover everything from cooking fundamentals to advanced recipes for seasoned cooks. Or grab a glass of wine and have a learn-to-cook night with your friends through Local Thyme chef Patricia Mulvey’s group classes – she even provides help for your class-prep grocery list.
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