Northeast Ohio has never been thought of as a culinary hotspot...until now. Chop and sauté your way through Akron's destination cooking schools and take classes from the masters.
If you have every single one of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks and will watch anything with Anthony Bourdain in it, Northeast Ohio should be your next destination — die-hard foodies are flocking to the region for cooking classes and culinary adventures. You'll be basting, blanching and braising like a pro in no time.
CUCINA AT GERVASI VINEYARD
Those who can't cook without a glass of wine in hand will find the 55-acre vineyard's cooking school a dream come true. The setting — restored nineteenth-century buildings surrounded by sloping grassy fields, large maple trees and a pond — provide the perfect backdrop for becoming a wine connoisseur/master chef. The vineyard touts itself a "destination cooking school." "The property is exceptional, and having a cooking school set in a winery gives us all kinds of resources to draw upon," Cucina director, Jen-nifer Wolfe Webb, promises, gushing about their greenhouse's fresh organic herbs, organically grown heirloom vegetables and, of course, the wine cellar. Gervasi's villas have a Tuscan feel and offer in-room spa services like manicures and massages. When you're not taking in the scenery or getting pampered, try your hand at making spinach ricotta calzones in the pizza and calzones class (March 3) with a chef trained by Julia Child's bread consultant. 1700 55th St NE, Canton, OH; 330-497-1000; gervasivineyard.com
WESTERN RESERVE SCHOOL OF COOKING
Founded in 1971 and housed in 19th-century brick buildings in downtown Hudson, (15 miles north of Akron), this cooking school is one of the oldest in the country. With a roster of classes and events as thick as Larousse Gastronomique, you have a lot to choose from, but the point of this school is that classes are meant to be social events rather than lessons. The Tuesday Lunch Bunch is a great excuse to get together with friends — sit down and take it easy as Chef/Owner Catherine St. John cooks for you, thereby teaching you some new tricks and recipes. Or, bring your better half to a themed Friday "date night," like the Carnival in Rio De Janeiro (March 9) where you'll learn to make hearts of palm salad with African spiced jumbo shrimp, chicken empachos and churrasco while shaking your hips. Other classes include the five-day Intensive Bread Clinic (March 26-March 30) and the Gnocchi and Risotto class (March 5). 140 N Main St, Hudson; 330-650-1665; wrsoc.com
LORETTA PAGANINI SCHOOL OF COOKING
The Loretta Paganini School of Cooking in Cleveland pairs up with Fishers Foods in North Canton to offer a smorgasbord of unique classes. You'll get a side of culture with each lesson: master chef Tim McCoy, who has worked at a number of Cleveland-area restaurants like Shujiro and Café Brio, has been influenced by a range of global cuisines, including Japanese, Korean and Indian. "If you take a class with me, you learn about the culture as well as the food," he says, "I incorporate elements from all the places I've worked into my teaching." I Can't Cook: Italian Basics (March 5) will transform you into a true Italian nonna, as you'll learn to whip up Italian wedding soup, spaghetti and meatballs from scratch, chicken parmesan, and tiramisu. You can also noodle around with Thai food on March 23, learn the art of meat- and dairy-free main dishes in a vegan seminar, or absorb the basics of Mexican cooking on March 20. Fishers Foods; 8100 Cleveland Ave NW, Canton; 440-729-7340; lpscinc.com
DOES YOUR PLATE STILL SEEM HALF EMPTY?
We've rounded up the best of the rest.
GRAPE AND GRANARY
915 Home Ave, Akron; 800-695-9870; www.grapeandgranary.com
Love beer and wine? Feel like DIY booze is the future? Check out the all-grain beer brewing class March 24 or advanced winemaking on March 31.
MUSTARD SEED MARKET & CAFÉ
3885 W Market St, Akron; 330-666-7333; www.mustardseedmarket.com
Health nuts will go nuts over Mustard Seed Market's lineup of natural food classes on topics like naturopathic cooking and cooking for heart health.
YOUNG CHEFS ACADEMY
28500 Miles Rd, Solon; 440-572-2855; www.youngchefsacademy.com
The offspring will pack its own lunch after learning to make kid-friendly foods like taco calzones at junior chef classes at the Young Chefs Academy in nearby Solon.