What’s Cooking? Hands-on Meals in Metro Detroit

By: Toni Cunningham | November 14, 2012

Unlike most people my age who enjoy watching MTV in their spare time, I spend my lounging hours with my eyes glued to the Food Network. I’m not ashamed, as I’d rather learn how to make Chicken Cacciatore than watch The Real World: Season 36.

Fellow cooking enthusiasts, rejoice! There are several cooking schools and restaurants in the Metro Detroit area that offer cooking classes and demonstrations where you can learn to walk in Giada De Laurentiis’ footsteps. Whether you can julienne a carrot faster than Mario Batali himself, or if you can’t even decipher a steak knife from a paring knife, there is a cooking class out there for you. I had the opportunity to speak with representatives from Mirepoix in Royal Oak and Toasted Oak in Novi to learn about their fabulous cooking classes and demonstrations.

Mirepoix, Holiday Market’s cooking school located at 1203 S. Main, Royal Oak, allows your inner Food Network Star to shine. Whether you’re an Iron Chef in the kitchen or a beginner, Mirepoix offers classes at all skill levels, so you can find a class that caters to you.

Eric Blotkamp, Events Coordinator of Holiday Market’s catering department, says that each class begins with the chef demonstrating everything in a recipe packet, and then it’s time for the students to get to work.

“You’ll be able to taste (the chef’s dish), and then you’ll go back to your station, and with the chef’s assistance, you will emulate that dish,” Blotkamp said.

Blotkamp highlighted Mirepoix’s Make and Take Pasta Dinner class, in which the chef shows you how to create pasta from scratch and then make a dish out of the fresh noodles. He had me at pasta.

Blotkamp recommends Cooking 101 for beginners, as well as Mirepoix’s knife skills class, which is the ideal place to start.

“That’s where I always steer beginners to,” Blotkamp said of Mirepoix’s knife skills class. “They’re a timeless skill to have, and you can apply them to any class. Once you have those (skills) down, I would recommend going forward.”

Upcoming cooking classes can be found on Mirepoix’s website, all for $69.99. Mirepoix also offers date night cooking classes, which run $129 a couple.

“There’s a lot to learn, there’s no doubt about it. Even someone who knows the basics of the kitchen will certainly, without a doubt, come away from this with something,” Blotkamp said.

If that seems too tame, the more adventurous palate might prefer participating in a demonstration called “Swine and Wine,” held at Toasted Oak, 27790 Novi Road, Novi.

In an hour and a half, Chef Steven Grostick will break down an entire pig right in front of your very eyes.

“I’m a butcher by trade, but I broke into culinary so I could combine the best of both worlds,” Grostick said. During the demonstration, he explains how to prepare each part of the animal, including everything from the shoulders to the legs to the belly.

In addition to gaining Chef Grostick’s insight, participants get to sample food and sip on wine pairings, all for only $35.

“(During the demonstration) I feed you five courses of the fun stuff that we make with the pig,” Grostick said. “We put food in front of you while you’re watching this, so it’s a great little deal.”

For adventurous foodies, one such succulent creation includes a crispy fried pig ear. You might also find yourself munching on porchetta while watching the demonstration.

At the end of the event, Chef Grostick sells all of the cuts. So after you learn how to make the best pork chops and baby back ribs in town, you can buy the cuts of meat, get in the kitchen as soon as you get home and make Gordon Ramsay weep.

While the class is held on the last Saturday of every month, after the October 27th demonstration, Grostick will be taking the following two months off for the holiday season, and resuming classes in January. The class size is limited to 35 participants, and all of Chef Grostick’s classes have sold out thus far, so act quickly! You can sign up for “Swine and Wine” by calling the restaurant at 248-277-6000.

If you’re interested in checking out other cooking classes in the area, Simply Good Kitchen in Birmingham, “The Dish” at Schoolcraft College and Pronto! restaurant in Royal Oak also offer cooking classes and demonstrations.

Ultimately, you can only learn so much from watching the beloved Food Network. Now, about that pasta class…