Kansas City Cooks: Cooking Classes in the Metro

There’s a veritable plethora of cooking classes available throughout the metro where you can up your cooking game.

To become better at almost anything, you must continue to learn and practice. The same applies to learning how to cook. 

Yet cooking for many is a skill that, once we learn the basics, we tend to stop adding to our knowledge. We don’t think we need to take our skills any further or push outside of our culinary comfort zone. Why would we choose to limit ourselves that way?

Listen, I get it. Ten thousand hours of feeding yourself and your family three meals a day through a pandemic will certainly build up your meal planning skills, but will it feed your culinary soul? Light your creative cooking spark? Will it open a new part of your brain or help you to think about food and the act of feeding people differently? Probably not. For that, you’ll need to seek out a little inspirational expertise.

Learning to cook uses skills that come in handy in everyday life. There is math in the measurements, science in the technique, technology in the tools, reading and comprehension in the instructions, and art in the presentation. Then, there is the emotional high you get from knowing that something you made with your hands is being enjoyed by friends, family, or even strangers, if you cook professionally. It is an incredibly powerful feeling.  

Celebrated television chef and avid home cook Julia Child once said, “The more you know, the more you can create. There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.” 

With that one quote, I think Julia was trying to impress upon us the importance of discovering new dishes in order to stay inspired to cook at home. No matter how much you think you know about cooking, there are always techniques you can learn to do better, faster, and easier in the kitchen, and on a busy Tuesday night with a family to feed, who doesn’t want those tools in their toolbox? 

Look at any study that was done about the cooking and eating habits of Americans during the pandemic and they all say that when we were forced to cook and eat at home, many enjoyed eating healthier, saving money, and bonding with family around the dining room table. In fact, Americans liked it so much that many responded that they would continue to cook more at home even after the stay-at-home orders eased, and so far, that is exactly what has happened. The pandemic forced many of us to become better cooks whether we wanted to or not. 

Because not everyone loves to cook, do they? For those who love it, cooking is a creative outlet, a way to relax and recharge after a long day of work. For others, cooking is just one more task standing between them and the moment their “me time” begins. 

Anthony Bourdain felt like learning to cook should be considered a basic life skill, and everyone should at least try to master some simple dishes to feed friends, a lover, or family in a pinch. Every time I hear someone say they don’t cook, I wonder whose responsibility it is to feed them, as they clearly must eat. 

Whether you love it or hate it or are a novice or an expert, maybe it’s time we all get out of our own kitchens and go looking for a little inspiration. Why not take a class that explores a new cuisine or a new way of eating? Maybe you’d like to try your hand at Chinese cuisine or gluten-free baking or eating vegan, or perhaps you want to acquire a new culinary skill such as learning to make Kansas City barbecue or use a sous vide machine. Lucky for us there are plenty of places across Kansas City that can help you learn more about just about anything you are curious about cooking. 

Culinary classes will not only teach you new techniques you can use at home to “wow” your family and friends, but they are also a great way to meet other food-loving friends. Looking for a fun group activity that everyone can participate in? Try a group cooking class to celebrate a birthday, a friendship, an anniversary, or even as a team-building exercise for the office. It’s great for bonding, and you usually get to share a meal or take home what you made after the class is over. 

Scroll through this list to get you started, then do yourself a favor and grab a friend and take a culinary class that will stretch your skills and spark your imagination. 

Lenexa Public Market 

When the Lenexa Public Market opened their doors with a beautiful demonstration kitchen upstairs, their intent was to use it to host a series of culinary pop-up events and community cooking classes. Check their online events calendar each month to find a class you’d love to take. Taught by a local chef or food expert, past classes have included Pakistani cuisine, how to eat a plant-based diet, and how to make your own jam. Prices may vary, and classes can either be watch-and-learn or hands-on.

The Culinary Center of Kansas City 

Each year, Laura Laiben offers more than 600 contemporary cooking classes and demonstrations covering a wide range of topics and taught by qualified, experienced instructors at her culinary school and retail shop located in downtown Overland Park. From barbecue to booze to baking, they have the class for you. Whether you want to sit back and watch or get hands-on, you’ll find something that piques your interest. Most classes cost between $75 and $95 dollars per person depending on your skill level and type of class.

Zero Zero Pasta

Founder and owner of Zero Zero Pasta, Mitch Fagan, and his partner, Leah Steinberg, had a clear vision for what they wanted their fresh- and filled-pasta shop on the Westside to be, and it always included plans to host pasta-making classes after hours. Zero Zero Pasta’s class size is limited to five participants per class, and with that kind of one-on-one instruction, they can charge $75 per person, and you get to take the pasta you made in class home. Classes are usually hosted Tuesdays and Sunday evenings.

Jyoti’s Indian Kitchen

Jyoti Mukharji hosted her first cooking class in 2010, and 13 years later, she estimates that she has taught more than 3,000 people how to cook Indian food, ten to 15 people at a time, from her home kitchen in Prairie Village. This former physician and self-taught home cook prepares family recipes, hosting one three-hour cooking class each week, promoting different four-to-six course menus that are emailed to customers and usually sell out. Cost is $75 per person and includes a full meal of the menu you learned in class. BYOB if you would like to pair your meal with wine or beer. Email her at jmukharji@gmail.com to be added to her email list to start cooking.

Lauren Lane Culinarian 

Lauren Lane turned her passion for Italian cooking into a full-time gig as Kansas City’s own culinarian. As a culinary-brand influencer, she shows her followers on social media easy seasonal dishes they can make at home. But from the center island of her gorgeous home kitchen in Shawnee, Kansas, she hosts three-hour-long, Italian-inspired cooking classes that she can customize for your group for $120 per person. You may come into her home as a stranger, but you won’t leave as one.

The Olive Tree 

The Olive Tree is a great place to shop for quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but over the last 12 years, owner Mindy Riley has evolved it into a one-stop culinary shop. She also hosts a wide variety of cooking classes for the beginner cook and beyond. With four to six cooking classes per month, The Olive Tree features well-known local chefs and up-and-coming amateur cooks. Recent cooking classes included favorite Vietnamese dishes from Saigon 39, gluten-free fried chicken, and grandmother’s challah and babka. Classes cost between $39 to $65 per person, and each includes an opportunity to taste what is made.

A Thyme for Everything

A 17-year fixture in downtown Lee’s Summit, A Thyme for Everything is a food-lover’s favorite with an impressive selection of gourmet food, kitchen, and entertaining products, and a calendar full of cooking classes all taught by professional chefs or cooking instructors. Hosted in the demo kitchen in the back room of the retail store, classes are $75 per person and are typically hosted weekly with everyone enjoying a full meal at the end of the class. Classes are BYOB with wine glasses and openers provided along with water to drink. Learn to make Middle Eastern cuisine, sushi rolls, Italian specialties, or barbecue at A Thyme for Everything.

The Flavor Lab at FLAVOR

Owner Amy Keith was inspired by her own love of cooking and food to open Flavor, a spice shop, specialty food market, and deli located in Lee’s Summit. Her mission is to bring more flavor to your food. Inside her retail shop is a beautiful gourmet kitchen known as The Flavor Lab, where home cooks and chefs alike teach classes and host tasting events. Classes range between $45 and $75 per person and cover topics such as cocktail and dessert pairings, dinners on the grill, and using oil and vinegar to make dressings, vinaigrettes, and marinades.

Billie’s Grocery

When Robin Krause designed Billie’s Grocery, she made sure that in addition to her sunny restaurant and bakery counter, she had room for a separate kitchen with experts ready to teach an impressive selection of both hands-on and demonstration-style classes. Many of the classes have an international flair, cost $95 per person, and includes a family-style meal with your classmates. Upcoming classes include topics such as mussels and more, flavors of India, a taste of Asia, dumplings galore, global stuffed pastries, and gluten-free crepes.

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