Best in Class

Have fun, learn stuff, eat tons: a schmoozy foodie’s guide to the city’s best cooking classes

You can learn to cook anything from YouTube, but there’s no actual food or kitchen camaraderie when the video ends. These hands-on cooking classes are the answer.

Pizza making at Cucinato Italian Culinary Studio

Those lucky enough to have tried Pasquale Ponticiello’s Neapolitan pies at the Sorauren Farmers’ Market will be pleased to know that the master pizza chef shares his trade secrets every month at Cucinato. The Corso Italia culinary studio offers workshops in all things Italian: pasta, pasta sauce, wine cookies and, of course, pizza. In the three-hour class, the Naples-born Ponticiello teaches aspiring pizzaioli to make, stretch, ferment and bake dough for the base of a margherita, marinara or funghi pizza. And because this kind of learning can inspire hunger pangs, complimentary snacks are provided. (And because cooking and drinking go hand in hand, vino is available for sale by the glass—or you can BYOB for a small fee.) $100. 1338 Lansdowne Ave., 647-343-3199,



Doughnut making at Le Dolci

At their new railpath-adjacent culinary classroom in the Junction Triangle, Le Dolci instructors teach aspiring bakers how to make all kinds of decadent desserts and pastries: cinnamon buns, croissants, pies, butter tarts and those oh-so-Instagrammable unicorn cakes. Unsurprisingly, one of their most popular classes is the doughnut-making workshop. Over the course of two hours, attendees learn all the fundamentals of making yeast doughnuts—mixing, proofing, frying—until they have a dozen of their own rings. Then comes the (even more) fun part: zhuzhing them up with glazes and toppings like rainbow sprinkles, cookie crumbles, Froot Loops and mini marshmallows. At the end of each class, everyone gets to take home their box of doughy goods to share with friends or (no shame) scarf alone. $105. 12 Sousa Mendes St., 416-262-3400,



A sourdough workshop at Prairie Boy Bread

The College Street bakery is known for its crusty, wholesome loaves. But for bread heads not content to simply purchase a loaf of double-fermented multigrain or Winterpeg rye, owner Grant MacPherson and his team will demonstrate everything necessary to make delicious loaves at home. The three-hour Beginner’s Guide to Sourdough workshop offers hands-on experience through the process of baking one of Prairie Boy’s country white loaves, from feeding the starter and mixing the dough to shaping the loaf and baking it in the stone-deck oven. Attendees walk away with the loaves they baked, their very own starter and enough dough to shape another loaf at home, plus two kilograms of flour with which to keep practising. $100. 970 College St., 416-531-1211,



Market feasts at St. Lawrence Market

Often the most inspirational part of a cooking show is the scene where the chef casually strolls through the local market, greeting vendors by name and sampling ingredients for the day’s menu. The Market Feasts at St. Lawrence Market have that same choose-your-own-adventure spirit. The evening-long forays combine the amble of a market tour with a cooking class in the market’s kitchen, led by chef Scott Savoie. The result is a better understanding of how the pros shop for ingredients, and a five-course meal tailored to the items you picked up, all paired with plenty of Ontario beer and wine. $120. 93 Front St. E., 416-699-7784,



Live out your culinary fantasies at Dish Cooking Studio

This Little Italy cooking studio—with its polished marble and stainless-steel surfaces that gleam like a Top Chef set—is geared toward the home-cooking fantasist: those who picture themselves roasting eggplants like Yotam Ottolenghi, mastering the art of the perfect risotto or whipping up top-to-bottom Spanish dinner parties and dim sum brunches with ease. The courses are offered in a few different three- and four-hour formats: some focused on particular culinary skills or techniques, others geared around building an entire menu. And for those who like to sip while they sauté, wine, beer and spirits are available for purchase. $95 to $195. 587 College St., 416-920-5559,



Pasta making at Nella Cucina

The go-to kitchen equipment store for many Toronto restaurants also happens to offer cooking classes. At Nella Cucina’s two-storey shop in the Annex, wannabe chefs can start small with a lesson on basic knife skills before moving on to making sushi, pizza or Middle Eastern mezze, all from some of the city’s best talent. (Past instructors have included Susur Lee, Christine Cushing and Doug McNish.) But Nella Cucina’s specialty is teaching the art of pasta-making. At the studio’s pasta workshops, students learn how to fashion all the components of spinach-ricotta cannelloni in a tomato-basil sauce from scratch—and that includes the cheese. Your dinner parties will never be the same. $125. 876 Bathurst St., 416-922-9055,



Take the flukiness out of making fish at Hooked

In the big book of home-cooking fiascos, few are more dreaded than botching a beautiful piece of very expensive fish, leaving blackened bits of skin and rubbery flesh stuck to the cooking surface, along with your pride. But cooking fish at home need not be so fraught: Toronto fishmonger Hooked hosts in-store demonstrations covering everything from the basics—pan roasting, grilling, poaching—to the delicate knifework required to debone whole fish. Hooked also offers workshops aimed at mastering specific dishes, so the next time smoked salmon risotto or seafood paella are on the menu, it’ll be a (sea) breeze. $85. 888 Queen St. E, 416-828-1861,



Sharpen up your meat game at the Healthy Butcher

There’s a certain satisfaction in selecting and buying a special-occasion prime cut from a premium butcher shop, but it’s even more rewarding to do the cutting yourself. That’s what’s on the docket for this shop’s demos and hands-on sessions that cover the basics of at-home meat mastery. Nobody can become a butcher in just two hours, but grads will be more comfortable around beef, pork and poultry with a sharp knife in hand. The poultry classes are the most hands-on—students will debone, spatchcock and truss a bird. And everyone gets two organic chickens to take home. $80-$125. 298 Eglinton Ave. W. and 565 Queen St. W., 416-674-2642,



Give THC some TLC at the Depanneur

Len Senater’s pop-up incubator on College has a calendar chock full of cooking classes, discussions and drop-in dinners. On almost any given day, there’s something delicious or educational (or both!) going down, from learning how to make Mexican street food to mastering the Instant Pot. One of the newer workshops is the punnily titled Sous Weed: Cooking with Cannabis 101, in which chef Carole Nelson Brown demonstrates how to use sous vide technology to infuse THC into various oils and spreads, to be used in everyday dishes. So instead of making (barely palatable) pot brownies, attendees will learn how to add a buzz to things like honey jerk–roasted cauliflower and Spanish garlic shrimp. $90. 1033 College St., 416-828-1990,



Perfect French pastry at Nadège

Toronto’s most popular macaron-maker, Nadège Nourian, is a fourth-generation pastry chef from Lyon. Who better to teach the art of French pâtisserie? Nourian’s hands-on master classes include lessons in how to make pâte à choux (used in so many French sweets), traditional pastries (custard-filled cannelés, madeleines, financiers) and classic desserts (lemon meringue tart, Paris-Brest, saint-honoré). She also teaches two-hour workshops on the trendiest of all French treats, the macaron, during which students make cassis macarons, blackberry-chocolate ones and the bakery’s signature Pretty in Pink confection: two macaron shells smooshing a layer of lemon chantilly, surrounded by (and topped with) fresh raspberries. Each class has a maximum attendance of nine, which means lots of valuable one-on-one time with the chef. $140. 780 Queen St. W., 416-203-2009,