If you’re looking for a cooking class that’s personable and homely, La Cucina di Sandra [56–62 Lyndhurst Street, Richmond] is the experience for you. Cooking up an Italian festa in her own home, Sandra’s classes are as authentic as they come. Armed with recipes and comprehensive notes, you can soak in all of Sandra’s knowledge as she passes on the cooking traditions of her heritage. At the La Cucina Di Nonna class, you’ll see how classic Italian dishes are prepared just as Sandra’s nonna used to make. Gnocchi obsessed? There’s a class for that — it explores the lesser known but equally delicious varieties of these fluffy pillows of goodness. Your class comes with a complimentary glass of wine, nibblies before the meal and, of course, the delicious meal prepared by someone who genuinely loves Italian cooking.
Run by Ha Nguyen, one of the most cheerful guys in Melbourne, a class at OTAO Kitchen [360 Victoria Street, Richmond] will not only result in a delicious meal and some sweet kitchen skills, but some fun memories, too. Specialising in Asian cuisine, here you can take part in Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai and Indian classes, just to name a few. If you want to get more specific, there are also classes for dumpling making and Asian finger food. In addition to the classes, Ha also runs tours including one of Victoria Street during which you’ll hear about the immigrant history of the area and how the thriving Vietnamese restaurants came to be. You'll also the inside scoop on where to shop for ingredients and cookware.
It's positioned in the heart of one of the city's favourite fresh food markets, so your experience at The Neff Market Kitchen [90 Cecil Street, South Melbourne] is already off to the right start. Notable Melbourne chefs play host at this cooking school and will guide you as you learn the techniques to create your dish of choice, using ingredients from the traders next door. With so much on offer, the hardest part will be deciding which class to book, with everything from Regional Italian Classics (with Matteo Toffano, Grossi Florentino chef) to Vibrant Flavours of Vietnam (with Dai Duong, chef and co-owner of Uncle). Classes are interactive but also easy-going, so if you prefer an observational experience, you can have that, too.
Take your love of chocolate to the next level by creating it yourself at Ganache Chocolate School [250 Toorak Road, South Yarra]. Those with a sweet tooth will be in their element as a chocolate expert guides you through how to make your favourite treat, from truffles to chocolate bars. Prefer the eating rather than the making of chocolate? You’re in luck — there’s a class that focusses on tasting and appreciation. Other classes include Chocolate Dessert Creation and Salted Caramel Three Ways. After your class, you’ll be able to take home your chocolatier wares but only if you haven’t eaten them all.
Free to Feed [763A High Street, Thornbury] is a cooking school that not only teaches cooking skills, but also makes a difference. This social enterprise is the brainchild of community worker Loretta Bolotin and her husband, Daniel Bolotin. Classes are run by refugees and asylum seekers, providing them with employment opportunities and a chance to connect with the community. Free to Feed hosts are highly skilled and will share the unique food traditions of their culture while providing you with a one-of-a-kind culinary experience. Cook authentic dishes from around the world and enjoy tasting new flavours, while hearing inspiring stories.
Local foodies and chefs go to The Essential Ingredient [32 Elizabeth Street, South Yarra] to buy high-quality cookware, gourmet ingredients or maybe even a new cookbook, making it a fantastic spot to pick up some new culinary skills. The 2019 schedule of classes sees Joe Grbac, owner of Saxe and former chef at St Crispin, sharing his knowledge on what it takes to make a good roast. Freelance chef and food stylist Ben Sisley also makes an appearance, with a class that will teach you to master the art of pasta.
If you consider dessert the most important meal of the day, then let Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School [22 Wilson Avenue, Brunswick] teach you how to do it right. It’s a one-stop shop for learning how to make sweet treats, with classes ranging from chocolate making to cake baking. Learn how to create perfect textures and delicious flavours in your decadent desserts and pastries, as well nail the presentation. It also runs Easter- and Christmas-themed workshops, for those wanting to whip up something special for these festive times of year.