With chefs travelling from all over the world to open innovative and quirky restaurants and more food markets being founded each year, Toronto has become a culinary hotspot of Canada. Within this foodie capital are cooks who want to take the delicious flavours they taste when eating out into their home kitchens, and they turn to culinary schools to get started. Whether it's their first time using an oven or they're living out a fantasy of being the next Masterchef, Torontonians young and old are flocking to culinary schools.
Toronto has dozens of independent cooking schools, and each school varies in size and organization. Independent cooking schools have small class sizes for one-on-one instruction and hands-on learning, where you'll usually be assigned to make a dish with the teacher there as a guide. Large companies like the LCBO, Loblaw's, and Williams-Sonoma run classes out of their stores with an instructional presentation to give you tips for cooking at home — classes like Spring Desserts or All About Oysters. Other students may be looking to enrol in classes that will set them up for a career in cooking, and for that, Toronto has a world-renowned culinary program at Humber College where you can take courses on pastry arts, hospitality, and molecular gastronomy. No matter your experience or culinary interest, there is a class out there that will suit your needs.
The best hands-on culinary classes are mostly either those that teach a variety of dishes and those that teach a cooking technique. For example, a class at Viva Tastings will showcase a full menu, readying each student for hosting a dinner party the following night — from an appetizer of pancetta-wrapped asparagus spears with hollandaise sauce to an orange, halva, and pomegranate dessert. These types of classes usually have a theme decided by the school's organizer, like Mediterranean Meals or Sake and Sushi. Meanwhile, a class at Dish Cooking Studio may feature teaching knife skills, and by doing so will make a spiced mango and fresh pico de gallo salsa for the evening. What all classes have in common is that they're developed for people who love food — cooking it as much as eating it (so don't attend these sessions on a full stomach).
Prices generally range between $60 and $125 per person per class and include a sampling of the food prepared. Depending on the class, this could mean a four-course meal cooked by you and your fellow students. It is a remarkably valuable opportunity to work with highly-trained chefs to learn new techniques and recipes for cooking at home and to meet new like-minded people who are interested in food just like you are. Kathleen Mackintosh, owner of The Culinarium Cupboard Cooking School, agreed:
The fun of a cooking school is meeting folks who are as passionate about food as we are. Whether our guests are beginner cooks or experts, there is always something to be learned from each other and always fabulous conversations about ingredients, trips, recipes, techniques, et cetera.
Top Toronto schools, such as Viva Tastings, Culinarium, and Dish Cooking Studio, each have a different approach to how they engage students in their classes. Ultimately, it is up to each student to decide which school suits them, their learning styles, and what class type appeals to them.