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If you’re looking to pick up basic kitchen skills or inspiration to liven up your favorite weeknight dinners, signing up for a cooking class is a smart idea that will have you working your kitchen like a pro. With cooking professionals on hand and new recipes to conquer, you’ll definitely pick up a few skills and get a boost of confidence. Find out what cooking classes can offer people who want to make great food no matter what their experience.
1. You’ll grasp the importance of being prepared
Many professional chefs rely on proper prep, or mise en place, to set them up for success. This concept is the foundation for many cooking classes, like Taylor Erkkinen’s courses at The Brooklyn Kitchen. She says that “the most important step is to plan out as best you can what you’re hoping to accomplish.”
This type of organization is key for preparing any dish that requires multiple steps and ingredients. That means before you even turn on the stove, before any chicken hits the pan for your favorite stir-fry, the ingredients should be peeled, cut and measured. That way, you can make sure you have everything you need and you can give the cooking process your full attention.
2. You’ll practice overcoming (minor) failures
Expect some dishes to burn, taste too bland or end up oversalted. Taking a cooking class will teach you to change course and move on. “When you practice cooking, you practice recovery and you practice getting over things that don’t go quite right,” Erkkinen says. By having professionals on hand to guide you through any missteps, you’ll be more confident overcoming these hurdles at home.
3. You’ll discover that you need to sharpen your knives
Any cooking class worth its salt will give you a quick refresher on knife skills. Not only will you learn how to slice, dice and chop like a pro, but you’ll learn about proper knife care and maintenance. After handling a sharp, quality chef’s knife in class, you are likely to find out that your knives at home aren’t as sharp as they should be.
4. You’ll work through tricky techniques
“Most cookbooks are written for people who already know how to cook,” Erkkinen says. That means that many techniques, even somewhat tricky ones like folding ingredients together, are simply glossed over instead of being broken down step by step. Cooking classes will dissect some of the more complicated techniques, so you can master more complex recipes at home.
5. You’ll learn to taste your food
The cardinal rule in the kitchen: taste your food. Cooking class instructors will remind you to taste your food every step of the way to make sure every dish is seasoned and salted appropriately so you don’t finish your dish only to find it bland.
6. You’ll know when to step away from the stove
Patience is key in cooking. In a class, instructors will teach you when your food needs fussing over and when it needs to be left alone. For example, many less experienced cooks tend to poke and prod and turn and flip their steaks (and chicken and pork…) when these meats should be left to sear in the pan.
7. You’ll take away some fun kitchen hacks
A huge part of taking a cooking class is seeing how the pros run a kitchen so you can pick up on their simplest habits and routines. Students at The Chopping Block in Chicago are all taught how pull piping hot trays from the oven with just a towel and how to tie their aprons so they have a handy place to keep a dish towel.
Whether you’re a pro or just starting out, a cooking class or two will help you hone your skills and remind you of important techniques can use next time you’re prepping dinner at home.
Bonus: Taste of Home LIVE! cooking demos might be coming to a city near you in 2018, so call up your besties for a class-y time together.