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Cooking class at Sur la table (Sur la table)

Master your cooking skills with local lessons before the holiday season

Fall means the holidays are right around the corner! Which typically entails lots of friends and family holiday dinners...So what better time than now to perfect your cooking skills?

Here are six places to take a cooking class, whether you’re looking for basic techniques or intensive culinary skills. Best of all it’s fun, you get to eat, and you NEVER have to do the dishes.

Maryland

L’Academie de Cuisine: At L'Academie de Cuisine there are classes for everyone, from knife skills, to baking, to how to make a delicious meal as if you were in Rio de Janeiro – appetizer, main course, and dessert. The classes are taught by veteran chefs offering industry-caliber expertise. There are hundreds of classes offered over the year, some being hands-on, others being demonstration classes. Classes have a maximum of 18 people per class and include single classes and series. If you love wowing your guests, imagine taking a class on Hors D’oeuvres – herbed lamb meatballs with lemon dill yogurt sauce, grape and brie Phyllo cups, and sun dried tomato and roasted shallot Tapenade with crisp olive flatbread--then serving them at your next dinner party. And with the holidays looming, why not take “Helpful and Happy Holiday Hosting.” (16006 Industrial Drive Gaithersburg, MD 20877)

Sur la table: At Sur la table they say they have taught more people to cook than any other schools. Classes run the gamut from cooking 101 to seasonal specialties to much more advanced classes. When you take a class you can shop for the tools you’ll need and you’ll get 10 percent off your purchases. Classes are for up to 16 people, but if there are only two they will have the class. Hands-on, they say come hungry since you always eat what you make. Sign up early. I waited too long and was closed out of several classes. With a full kitchen, classes are only held in its Arlington, Alexandria, and new Pike & Rose store in Bethesda.

Washington, DC

CulinAerie: With two kitchens, the classes are either for 16 or 28 students. Participate in a class in Indian bread making, learn knife skills, or take a couples’ cooking night out where you’ll make tapas or Thai food. How much fun would it be to take a couples cooking class in South American Food & Wine Pairing and then recreate it for family or friends? The school’s instructors have an average 15 years of experience in their respective fields. CulinAerie offers series and single classes. (1131 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005)

Casa Italiana Language School: The school offers one class a month. If you are interested in the Italian language, food or culture, Chef Matt Finarelli says, “The best place to learn about Italy is in the kitchen.” The classes cover the preparation of several courses from around Italy, and are hands-on. In class you’ll learn to prepare three recipes, grasp basic cooking techniques, and understand the essential Italian ingredients. (595 1/2 3rd St NW, Washington, DC 20001)

Virginia

Mimi Clark’s Vegan Cooking Classes: Are you a vegan or thinking about becoming one? Well Mimi Clark’s Vegan Cooking Classes is perfect for you. In her 27th year, Clark has been a pioneer in plant-based cooking. In addition to formulating vegan recipes for many manufacturers, she has appeared on local television and is currently a consultant for the Loving Hut, a vegan restaurant in Falls Church. This fall learn about beans & grains, meatless makeovers, meatless holidays, and holiday entertaining. (9302 Hallston Ct., Fairfax Station, VA 22039)

Taste Studio: Heading to Williamsburg? Make sure to sign up for the Taste Studio, a contemporary, full-service demonstration kitchen. It’s an intimate, fun setting to learn and share great food. Try ”Sips with Chefs” a fine tasting of distilled spirits and cocktails. Each class has a theme, whether it’s Bourbons, Gins or Holiday Cocktails. All spirits are paired with food tastings. (305 S. England St. Williamsburg VA 23185)

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