Columbus restaurant and culinary pros are helping foodies hone their cooking skills.
Whether it’s restaurants that bring the farm to the table or spots that deliver flavors of another culture, a wide range of influences shape Columbus’ food scene. For those who want to create daring dishes in their own kitchens, the city’s food professionals are opening their doors and sharing their tips, techniques and recipes by way of hands-on classes. “People should enjoy the process of cooking and make it their own,” says Anne Boninsegna, co-owner of The Kitchen. From vegan and vegetarian cooking to farmhouse favorites, these four Columbus spots will help ready you for your own culinary adventures.
Anne Boninsegna and Jen Lindsey, co-owners of The Kitchen, offer inventive menus and a relaxed atmosphere that emphasizes cooking as a form of experimentation rather than a rigid set of instructions. “There are lots of ways [to cook], and I think opening up your mind to being as creative as you can with food — as you would be if you were to paint a picture — is what makes cooking enjoyable,” Boninsegna says. The Kitchen’s menu themes have ranged from the music of Bob Marley to dishes inspired by the best-selling novel The Help. Every Tuesday, The Kitchen plays host to a pop-up taco restaurant that features a different menu motif each week. $55–$75 per class; 231 E. Livingston Ave., Columbus 43215, 614/225-8940, thekitchencolumbus.com
Seasonal favorites are the focus of Woodhaven Farm’s cooking classes, which feature theme-based, seasonal menus that showcase the bounty of tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, peppers, herbs and more from the school’s two large gardens and greenhouse. Fall brings soups, stews and reworked Thanksgiving side dishes. Knife skills are also part of each class. Students learn the difference between a mince and a dice, as well as how to quickly and safely get their cutting-board skills up to speed. “If you’re a novice, you don’t need to be intimidated,” says owner Tami Cecil. “We’ll pair you up with someone who has a little bit more experience.” The classes are meant to be social and fun and Woodhaven Farm even plays host to businesses that use a few hours in the kitchen as a form of team building. $50 per class; 11401 Woodhaven Rd., Johnstown 43031, 614/470-2665, woodhavenfarm.com
Housed in a locally owned specialty grocery store, The Hills Market cooking classes typically begin with a demonstration by the in-house chefs and end in the wine department, where students can sample while enjoying the three-course meals they’ve helped create. Guests are able to select their protein of choice, such as beef, seafood or a vegetarian option, and decide what they would like to learn. “It’s all case-by-case, we have no menu or theme,” explains marketing director Kelly Holmes. “Our chef works with the event planner of the group, and they decide what to do.” While the chef prepares the protein and gives pointers, class participants prepare the sides. Holmes says The Hills Market also brings in Columbus chefs for demonstrations. “Guests can come and see their favorite local chef in person and up-close and ask questions.” $45–$50 per class; 95 N. Grant Ave., Columbus 43215, 614/702-7900, thehillsmarket.com
Kamal and Ami Panchal have a passion for teaching others about the great flavors that can be created without using meat or animal products. The Banana Leaf restaurant owners teach how to make vegan and vegetarian dishes that are popular in India because of the Hindu religion’s dietary guidelines. “I am a strict vegetarian and I am Hindu, and we never eat eggs or any meat,” says Kamal Panchal. “In America, people are vegan for two reasons: one is the treatment of animals and the other is for their health.” Attendees learn how to make authentic Indian recipes, such as vegetable omelets and curries, as well as how the cuisine’s spices can be used in a wide range of vegetable dishes. Students get recipes to take home with them at the end of class. “They are totally based on my home recipes back in India,” says Kamal. “They come from my wife, my mother and my mother-in-law.” $45–$55 per class; 816 Bethel Rd., Columbus 43214, 614/459-4101, bananaleafofcolumbus.com