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Local cooking schools
March 28, 2007
By Jennifer Chandler

Memphis has great places to improve cooking skills

By Jennifer Chandler
Special to The Commercial Appeal

March 28, 2007

Last week, I got an e-mail from a reader asking about good places to go for cooking classes. "I am not trying to be a professional chef or anything, just looking for a class to give me ideas and knowledge about cooking for my family," she said.

Memphis is lucky to have some great places around town where the home cook can brush up on the basics as well as learn some new techniques and recipes.

The Viking Cooking School (1215 Ridgeway Road) in East Memphis is the only official cooking school in Memphis. Featuring an extensive offering, some classes are strictly demonstrations; others offer hands-on learning. To learn the basics, sign up for a one- or three-day culinary basics course. If you want to learn to do something different for your next dinner party, attend one of the entertaining-themed classes. I've enjoyed the kids' classes that I have taken with my daughter. What's also cool about their classes is that you get to use all Viking equipment. For more information on course offerings, call 763-3747 or visit vikingcookingschool.com.

Mantia's International Market (4856 Poplar Ave.) offers fun and informative classes for the home cook.

"We design our classes to appeal to all levels of cooks," says owner Alyce Mantia. "An experienced cook will always learn something new and novice cooks will be able to replicate our recipes at home."

Students sit around tables in an intimate setting that encourages discussion and lets participants really feel a part of the class. Alyce teaches many of the classes ("Super Seafood," "The Parisian Weekday Gourmet" and her popular "There's No Such Thing as Too Much Garlic" class to name a few) but she also invites area chefs to teach classes on everything from the basics to regional specialties. For a complete class listing, call 762-8560 or visit mantias.com.

Williams-Sonoma (7615 West Farmington Blvd., Germantown) is another great place to go for cooking classes. As part of their core cooking class series, Williams-Sonoma offers classes for intimate groups (the maximum class size is 10) on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings. The upcoming class on April 3 and 5, "Souffles Made Easy," will teach the basics of how to make a perfect souffle every time. In addition to their core classes, Williams-Sonoma also offers free technique classes twice a month on such topics as KitchenAid Mixer 101 and Saute Basics. For more information, call 737-9990.

Al fresco dining returns

Spring is here and to welcome in the season, The Inn at Hunt Phelan (533 Beale Street) is opening its patio on Thursday. A great outdoor dining spot, The Veranda Grill at the Hunt Phelan also will begin serving their new spring menu that night.

Essential wine series

Do you love wine and want to learn more about it? Then sign up for the Viking Cooking School's Essential Wine Series. "Developed by Karen MacNeil, who wrote 'The Wine Bible' (Workman Publishing Company, $19.95), this interactive class would be great for both beginners and those who already know a lot about the wine industry," explains Christopher Green, manager of the Viking Cooking School. The six-week course begins Monday, at 6:30 p.m. It's $385. To register, call 763-3747 or visit vikingcookingschool.com.

Recipe contest

In celebration of 25 years of service, The Fresh Market is asking its customers and employees to share their time-honored recipes from their private collections for its 25th Anniversary Cookbook. Its first cookbook, "The Fresh Market & Friends Cookbook," ($19.99) was so popular that the company thought that a new signature cookbook would be the perfect way to commemorate this anniversary. Submit recipes at thefreshmarket.com by April 30 Twenty-five lucky winners will receive a $25 TFM gift card plus a complimentary copy of the cookbook.

Please share your fabulous food finds and restaurant news with me at jennifer@cookwithjennifer.com.

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