August 21, 2012

The Best Cooking Classes in Toronto

By Charles Moffat.

Here are my picks for the best cooking lessons in Toronto.

#1. Luca

Luca offers private cooking lessons in both Italian cooking lessons and also private cooking lessons in general. Why is he my number one pick? 1. He teaches privately. It is more like tutoring so you get 1-on-1 attention, which is rare when most cooking classes are in groups of 6 or more. #2. He really knows his stuff. #3. His prices are fair, so you're getting great value for a fair price. Expect to pay $25 per person plus the cost of food. So depending on the menu it can get pricier, but it is exceptional value.

#2. Arvinda's Healthy Gourmet Indian

I put this one 2nd because I LOVE Indian food. You might already have heard of Arvinda's from the line of Indian spices and curries they sell across Toronto at places like Fiesta Farms, The Big Carrot, and The Cheese Boutique. Arvinda's cooking classes came first, long before the spice belends. Her practical classes ($65-85) cover all the basics of Indian cuisine... including my favourite: Butter Chicken. She also offers a 2-day "India Discovery" workshop ($160) where you learn the basics of cooking Indian food in one day plus a walking tour of Little India where you learn how to shop for Indian food products.

#3. Lyn's Private Vegan Lessons

Okay now technically this isn't really well known as the others. I am basically just plugging a friend of mine who is a vegan cook and recipe writer. She has taught me everything I know about vegan cooking. Check out her website at I also highly recommend her ebook "Conscious Evolution: Vegan Recipes, Life and Consciousness".

The rest of these are in no particular order.

Culinarium - Offers a series of cooking classes ($69) that highlight local and seasonal ingredients you can learn practical skills like working with different meats (poultry, lamb, beef etc), veggies and grains (fall harvest soups), and preserving (jamming, pickling, canning).

The Healthy Butcher - Great if you want to learn about meat. Learn how to break down an elk carcass, spatchcock a chicken or make your own sausages. Classes are either demonstrations or hands-on and generally range from $80-$100. The groups are capped at anywhere from 10-20 people.

The Good Egg - This Kensington Market shop has a great selection of recipe books and supplies. They also offer basic cooking/general interest classes ($75-$100).

Calphalon - Retailers of cookware and knives, their culinary centre at the corner of King & Spadina also offers cooking classes are very expensive, but with a broad selection of classes in the city. Demonstrations are ($70), Hands On ($150), or the more intensive Specialty Class ($200).

Great Cooks - Cooking classes for individuals ($110) or corporate team building (prices vary). Seasonal themes and also basic skills classes.

Nella Cucina - A knife sharpening/rental services and restaurant supply which has a location at Bathurst and Bloor. They also offer classes in Hands On ($75 - $125) and Demonstrations ($75) so you can hone those knife skills.

Toronto District School Board - A cheaper option at $20-30 per class (depending on materials) but their topics include Wine Regions of the World, Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Cake Decorating and Chef on the Run so its also great value.

George Brown Continuing Education - For the more dedicated this college offers evening courses (roughly $200-$400 each) and certificate programs (prices vary). This is really for people intending to become professional chefs. 6 different classes to pick up a certificate in Asian Cuisine, Vegetarian Cuisine, Baking Arts, Cake Decorating, or general Culinary Arts.

St. Lawrence Market Kitchen - On the mezzanine level, south building, you will find a full line of cooking classes. Everything from soups and stews, Thai cookery, working with chocolate, etc. Classes run between 2-3 hours and cost $50.

The Bonnie Stern Cooking School - You could just read her column in the National Post, or you can take her classes for $150 which has a mix of practical cooking, informational, and celebrity chef interview/dinner formats.

Dish Cooking Studio - Ignoring the weird name this catering company, boutique and cafe also offers classes (about $125-$175), and showcase recipes from well-known celebrity chefs.

Viva Tastings - At the St. Lawrence Farmers' Market on Saturdays, or their 6 Degrees Underground Supper Club, you will find a variety of cooking classes and corporate team building events, covering everything from basic culinary skills, to entertaining for vegetarians and vegans, to holiday party planning. Each class is $90 and includes a sit-down meal & glass of wine.

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