Retailers all over the country are already putting out their holiday displays. It’s the holiday season – and that means breaking out the spatulas, pans, and beaters.
It can also mean meeting new people while trying out new recipes or getting new skills. There are almost too many options:
Online Cooking Groups
One of the easiest is as close as your laptop or tablet. Senior Planet’s Recipes, Cooking & Foodies community is enjoying an activity uptick as we start the unofficial holiday cooking season.
You can join some 1,400 foodies online and share recipes, make food suggestions and offer helpful comments.
“Many post delicious recipes for two or one, saving empty-nesters and/or singles the hassle of figuring out ingredient proportions, says SPC Foodie group member ZolliStar, “In addition, members often post good-to-know information. A recent example: A chart of the onions (red, white, yellow, sweet, etc.) that go best with different foods.”
Want to join ZolliStar and the hundreds of other cooking fans? Visit https://community.seniorplanet.org/
In-person Cooking Groups
Many foodies – or foodie wanna-bes – go further: they enroll in cooking classes,. Some go a lot further. Literally. They slake their appetites for cooking, meeting new people and travel by signing up for cooking classes abroad. All it takes is a quick online search (Google “cooking classes abroad” yields 24 million results.)
Sites worth checking include:
* The International Kitchen (https://www.theinternationalkitchen.com/) offers day-long to week-long cooking classes in Greece, France, Mexico, Peru to name just four countries and cuisine choices.
* Cooking Vacation (https://www.cooking-vacations.com/ ) features classes in different regions of Italy – each has its specialties — and, unexpectedly, Boston. (Owner Lauren Birmingham Piscitelli and her husband Rino Piscitelli live in Massachusetts and Italy.) Classes states side and abroad are as short as a single day to as long as eight.
(A good overview of ideas and suggestions about foreign country cooking classes comes from veteran world traveler Leyla Giray Alyanak: https://www.women-on-the-road.com/how-to-find-the-best-cooking-vacations-italy-france-and-beyond.html
Local Cooking groups
If you want to improve your cooking skills and meet fellow foodies without pulling out your passport and packing a suitcase, in-person classes are your ticket.
Excellent go-to sites to learn more are national chain affiliates and/or cooking school aggregators such as:
- cozymeal.com: Input your city for a menu of nearby cooking class options.
- OKChef.org: Listings for almost every state are under the “Cooking Classes” tab. The “Fun Stuff” tab features wonderful foodie blogs.
- Surlatable.com: What a variety of classes! While you can take a class online, a fun way to meet fellow aficionados is by attending in-person classes.
- Williams-Sonoma.com: Check the “Virtual & In-Store” events tab of this national chain to find classes that interests you.
Cooking group tipsheet
- Costs: For classes or groups, the range is from moderate (and occasionally free for in-store demonstration classes) to expensive. Check but remember, if it’s pricey, it’s because a chef’s time is involved along with the cost of a kitchen and included food.
- Skill level: Many classes are fine for beginners but if you’re an experienced cook more advanced classes are better option. Ask about the skill level anticipated.
- Food preferences: Some like it hot – but you may not. Inasmuch as some cuisines (Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese are examples) feature spicy dishes, check the “heat” level of the food you’ll be learning to prepare before signing up for certain classes. Allergies? Lactose intolerant? Other restrictions? You’re used to checking. Check again.
- Classes: How many will be in your class? The smaller the better; best is under 10 to 12. Will class be demonstration style or hands-on? If hands-on, will you work alone or with a partner? Finally, will you be eating the results?
- Before class begins: If there are certain cuisines or particular dishes that you want to learn, it’s smart to practice before you enter a class. You’ll have a better shot at resolving any issues/problems you may have and will definitely step up your game.
Food – buying it, preparing it, sharing the resulting meal – is fun, especially if you’re a foodie. Finally, there’s the best part: the pleasure of spending time sharing a meal. And what could be more social?
What cooking class or group have you tried? what cooking class or group would you like to try? Share your thoughts in the comments!!
Nona Aguilar is an award-winning writer of numerous magazine articles and two books. She has also edited four specialty business newsletter publications. Her work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Family Circle and Cosmopolitan, and in The Business Owner.