Want to give the gift of learning to cook? Here's where to start in Waterloo region

Instruction covers everything from fundamentals like knife skills and making stock to the cooking world cuisines, fermentation and using various pieces of specialized kitchen equipment.

Andrew Coppolino has the details on where to learn to cook, prep and cut in Waterloo region

There are culinary schools that offer a range of classes in Waterloo Region and surrounding areas that are designed for both adults and children, similar to this one in Windsor. (Aadel Haleem/CBC)

Here's a gift idea for the food lover on your holiday list: cooking classes.  

There are culinary schools that offer a range of classes in Waterloo region and surrounding areas that are designed for both adults and children. 

Instruction covers everything from fundamentals like knife skills and making stock to the cooking world cuisines, fermentation and using various pieces of specialized kitchen equipment.   

For the most part, the classes are usually under 20 people, so it's a good way to learn and meet new people who love food. 

Note that classes are either demonstration-style, where you observe an instructor who takes you step-by-step through a technique (usually larger class size), or hands-on where you do the preparation, cooking and the eating. 

Periodically, some schools offer butchery classes, which are highly informative. 

Most classes run for a few hours in the evening, although some take a whole day during the weekend.  

There are also packages of "boot camp" classes that run for a couple of months over consecutive weekdays. Some venues are licensed to serve alcohol. 

Conestoga College Continuing Education, Waterloo 

A number of workshops are offered at the College's new Tibbits Centre on University Avenue, including instruction culinary basics, cocktails, sausage- and terrine-making and from-scratch pasta. 

Cost: Approximately $65 

Culinary Studio, Kitchener  

Culinary Studio owners Jody O'Malley and Kirstie Herbstreit say fundamentals are key to good cooking.

"One of the most important ideas we try to teach is proper cooking techniques.  It doesn't matter if you are cooking an Indian curry or a chicken pot pie. If you don't cook and sweat your onions properly, it's not going to be right," Herbstreit says. 

Examples of classes running in 2019 include Persian dishes, ramen, knife skills and farmers' dinner nights. Depending on the season, the Studio could run up to three classes a week, in addition to private and corporate classes.  

Most classes are for 12 to 20 people.  

Cost: Most classes approximately $80.  

Liaison College, Kitchener 

Culinary Boot Camp runs for 10 weeks, one night per week for four hours and covers breads, stocks, sauces, proteins and vegetables. 

Cost: $1,500 for 10 weeks 

The Marketplace, Kitchener Market 

Located upstairs at the Kitchener Market and adjacent to the market's food-stall restaurants, Marketplace cooking classes are for 20 people or fewer.  

Coming up in January, guest chefs teach pasta-making, Asian dishes, comfort foods and cookery using the popular Instant Pot.  

There are both demonstration classes and hands-on classes. 

Cost: $49 

Summer Chef School, Baden, Ont. 

The school, located on Two Calves Standing farm in Baden, Ont., offers a "Holiday Break Cooking Camp" from January 2 to 4 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) for children ages 7 to 14.

Each day is independent and different so kids can attend any number of the three days, according to operator Bryan Izzard. Weather permitting, kids get to see the farm in operation and will gather eggs for cooking. 

"The camp is very hands-on, and kids eat what they make and often get to take some home," Izzard says.

Cost: $288 for the three days

Natalina's Kitchen, Guelph 

Natalina Campagnolo teaches small group classes Italian cooking from September to April. She covers techniques and several of the regions of the country: Taste of Sicily, Taste of Calabria and more.

Specific dishes could include wood-fired pizza, focaccia, as well as child and adult desserts classes.

Class sizes range from 8 to 12 people and fill up fast. In fact, plan ahead because you may have to go on a waiting list. 
Cost: $98 to $175 (the latter for a full-day class). 

Open Kitchen, Stratford Chefs School 

Operated by the Stratford Chefs School, an extensive collection of classes is taught for up to 16 people and run on Sundays year-round.

Classes include bread, pastry, fermentation, vegan dishes and ice cream as well as cuisines of the world and techniques such as sous vide, immersion circulators and pressure cookers.

Majority of the classes are three hours in duration and include making food and eating it.  

"We teach basics, too, like why we heat up pans before adding oil and cooking," said school graduate and instructor Eli Silverthorne. "We cover the reasons behind the techniques and try to create the restaurant kitchen experience ... Students can gravitate toward the more challenging tasks, others to the less challenging." 

Certainly a hot topic on the (very near) horizon: cooking with cannabis, a course to be offered in 2019. 

Cost: $45-$75. Higher priced classes may include a glass of wine or beer.

Relish Cooking Studio, Kitchener  

Over the last seven years or so, Relish co-owners Donna-Marie Pye and Maria Burjoski have offered both hands-on classes and demonstration-style classes.

Now at their new Kitchener location, the capacity for a demonstration class is 24 people and 12-16 people for a hands-on class.  Don't ignore demonstration-style learning, Pye says. 

"You can learn a lot by watching and listening to a chef in a demonstration class. There are also more dishes that you can get through."

Classes range from foods and cooking of the world to basics of techniques and classes connected to cook books, including the popular class that cooks dishes from the late Stewart McLean's Vinyl Café. Remember "Dave Cooks the Turkey"?

Cost: About $80 per person. "You eat everything you make," Pye says. You also get a discount on Relish store merchandise.

Steckle Heritage Farm, Kitchener 

Books and Cooks classes for kids.

"It's for four to six year-olds. They learn about food on the farm, cook a snack and read a book about it. Classes run in the spring and fall," says Joel Knight, who does the farming at Steckle and helps run the programming. "Also, Little Farmers is a parent-and-child program that runs nine classes per week and has a 30-minute cooking section using produce from the farm that the kids pick themselves."

The farm also runs various butchery classes (not for kids).

Cost: Books and Cooks cost is $40 for four once-a-week classes. 

SupperWorks, Waterloo 

Not traditional cooking classes but some instruction while preparing dinner.

"While SupperWorks isn't a cooking school in the traditional sense, we offer customers hands-on, in-store meal making sessions which are guided by our helpful staff. Customers can learn basic meal preparation and cooking techniques," according to founder Joni Lien. 

Cost: Various pricing depending on number of entrees and servings 

Various locations

Check out local community centres as well as grocery stores like Sobeys along with Zehrs and the Real Canadian Superstore's PC Cooking Schools where you can find classes for adults and children. Classes include Cuban or Quebecois dishes as well as cooking with maple syrup, alcohol, bacon and seafood.