Springtime in Washington, D.C. is one of the most lovely times, complete with beautiful trees and flowers blooming along streets and in the parks, and it signals the arrival of fresh produce from local farms in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and beyond. Chefs and home cooks can’t wait to start cooking and try new recipes, but for those who are either reluctant to experiment in the kitchen or want to learn more, all that wonderful food can be intimidating—unless these timid cooks sign up for an interactive cooking class. The variety of cooking classes offered in spring is as varied as the food in the farmers’ markets, and to help you find the right class, Culture Trip has put together a list of the best classes taught by dedicated instructors.
For an authentic Italian dining and cooking experience, people in the know head to Al Tiramisu restaurant in Dupont Circle for one of chef-owner Luigi Diotaiuti’s phenomenal cooking classes. Luigi is a chef, certified sommelier, and television personality who shares his passion for his heritage and his birthplace—Basilicata in Southern Italy. He makes each class feel like an intimate dinner party, complete with fantastic conversation, authentic Italian dishes, and lovely Italian wine. His engaging personality and enthusiasm keep people coming back year after year.
Judging from the title above, you probably think that this list has gone off the rails—but have faith. Casa Italiana is a respected language school in Penn Quarter that offers hands-on cooking classes that highlight the regional cuisines of Italy and the culture and history behind their origins and traditions. Chef Matt Finarelli’s hands-on classes teach each student how to prepare a three-course menu (including recipes) from start to finish, including instruction in the ingredients essential to the different types of Italian cuisine. At the end of class, students enjoy the fruits of their labors and make a few new friends, so even if you can’t boil water, there’s a class for you. Also, if you’re an advanced student, consider taking one of the classes taught in Italian. Mangia, Mangia!
Cozymeal is a new way to take a cooking class that lets you choose the venue; the chef can teach you how to cook in the comfort of your kitchen at home, at their place, or at a venue you both choose. It’s as easy as searching for a class by topic and location, registering, paying, and putting the date on your calendar. Verified chefs teach the classes, and whether you want to learn how to cook the new spring vegetables purchased at the local farmers’ market, your kids want to become cupcake experts, or the quest for perfect fried chicken is driving you bonkers, there is a class to satisfy your culinary ambitions.
Few cooking class venues are as unique or historic as Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital on Capitol Hill, which was a soldiers’ hospital during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln commissioned the building in 1864; it was completed in 1866 and designed to treat 50 patients in a hospital that was, at the time, state of the art. This historic Italianate landmark was completely restored and opened as a community center in 2011 and offers a range of art, culture, and other programs including recreational cooking classes taught by local chefs and pastry chefs. Depending on the chef and time of year, students can take baking and dessert classes, classes on French cuisine, and Asian cooking classes.
Just Simply…Cuisine’s classes may take place in a private home, but they are engaging and led by a talented cook with years of experience in the kitchen. The person at the helm is Chris Coppola Leibner, and her classes are distinct because she sources her herbs and produce from her organic, backyard gardens and artisanal, sustainable farmers’ markets, butchers, dairies, and fishmongers. There are no set courses because each class menu changes with the season. What Chris finds at the market the morning of the class is what determines the featured dishes that day, and each participation class includes instruction in three to five dishes. Chris Coppola Leibner’s classes are brimming with helpful tips and instructions, and over the three-hour span, each student will cook, taste, and sample their work with wine and a thirst-quenching San Pelligrino.