Improve Yourself: Excel in the Kitchen

Columbus Monthly staff
A floral arrangement at Flowers & Bread

Centerpieces with Flair

Floral design classes, Flowers & Bread, 3870 N. High St., Clintonville, $75–$85,

As a bakery, coffee shop and floral studio, Flowers & Bread features a full calendar of events throughout the year. The flowers side of the Clintonville outpost includes hands-on workshops in floral design, touching on everything from botanical selection to arrangement technique to exploring historical traditions. Classes typically span two hours, take 10 to 12 students and are led by the Flowers & Bread team or frequent guest designers. In early 2020, you can, among other things, work with seasonal winter greens, build a stunning vase arrangement for Valentine's Day, learn to arrange in the style of English floral designer Constance Spry and even discover how to draw inspiration from pre-Raphaelite artist John Melhuish Strudwick. No prior experience is necessary. Guests are welcome to bring their own adult beverages; Flowers & Bread supplies iced tea and treats from the bakery.

Make Your Own Wine and Beer

Brewing and winemaking classes, The Winemaker's Shop, 3517 N. High St., Clintonville, $35,

The Winemaker's Shop in Clintonville has long been the epicenter of homebrewing and winemaking in Columbus. First opened in 1974, it's run by Scott Francis and Nina Hawranick and their sons Alex and Ivan. Francis is considered by many to be the godfather of modern Columbus brewing. In addition to counseling many home vintners and brewers over the years, he helped establish Columbus Brewing Co., Barley's Brewing, Smokehouse Brewing and Temperance Row Brewing. The two-hour winemaking and homebrewing classes include a live demonstration of the process. They're open to a dozen guests and are typically run in the evenings. The demos focus on crafting the beverages from a kit, which can be purchased at the shop. While guests learn from the instructor and participate in the process, they're treated to a flight of local beers or wine and taken on a tour of the shop's production facility.

Breadmaking for All

Breadmaking classes, Omega Artisan Baking, 59 Spruce St., Short North, $85–$95,

Ready to become a star baker after bingeing The Great British Bake Off? The North Market's artisan bakery, Omega, has been offering breadmaking classes for 15 years, long before the show was a hit. “I don't think you can learn to bake bread by watching someone do it,” says Omega's founder, Amy Lozier. One of the best parts about Omega's classes, she says, is that participants get to work the dough with their hands. Designed for all skill levels, the bakery's classes cover subjects such as beginning bread baking, baking with sourdough and starters, holiday breakfast baking and others by request. Classes are limited to 20 people and take place after the market closes. Courses generally start at 7 p.m. and can run until 10:30 or 11 p.m.—baking takes time, after all. A light dinner and refreshments are included, and participants often leave with three loaves of fresh-baked bread. Look for Omega's classes to start back up in the spring.

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Instant Pot 101

Cooking classes, 1400 Food Lab, 1400 Dublin Road, Marble Cliff, $50–$150,

It's January, and the Instant Pot your mom gifted you is sitting in a box taking up space on the kitchen counter. 1400 Food Lab can help. The Dublin Road commercial kitchen/commissary offers a variety of classes and special events for food enthusiasts. Highlights on 2020's class schedule include the ever-popular Instant Pot 101, children's cooking classes led by Food for Thought Kitchen, whole-animal butchery classes by Seth and Lyndsey Teter of Six Buckets Farm and authentic Italian and Lebanese cooking classes. 1400 Food Lab also offers interactive cooking sessions designed for corporate team-building—imagine you and the office manager competing in a challenge straight out of Chopped.

Be a Better Home Chef

Cooking classes, The Seasoned Farmhouse, 3674 N. High St., Clintonville, $65–$75 on average,

The Seasoned Farmhouse feels like a well-appointed cottage in Napa, but instead of hosting getaways, this converted Clintonville home welcomes locals for cooking demonstrations and hands-on classes. The venue has lessons for all skill levels, whether students want to learn how to dice tomatillos or prepare Cape Malay curry. The classes focus on seasonal ingredients and themes—45 new courses are introduced every three months—and a backyard garden provides hyperlocal herbs and produce. For ambitious chefs, owner Tricia Wheeler also offers in-depth programs that range from four to 30 weeks ($500–$3,000). Most classes are only a few hours long, with instructors teaching about a dozen aspiring home cooks a wide variety of cuisine, such as root vegetable recipes, vegan cooking or the gastronomy of a particular country. At a date-night event last summer, six couples created signature Peruvian dishes while instructors provided empanadas and pisco sours to enjoy during meal prep. The result was a dinner party where everyone left sated, with something new in their culinary arsenal.

Mitchell Hall's New Mix

Cooking classes, Columbus State Community College's Mitchell Hall, 250 Cleveland Ave., Downtown, $35–$75,

The opening last summer of CSCC's state-of-the-art Mitchell Hall generated a lot of excitement—and new opportunities—around the college's culinary arts program. The program had stopped holding community classes about 10 years ago because it didn't have the space, says chef Joshua Wickham, the director of operations at the college's School of Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts. In concert with the unveiling of Mitchell Hall, the school has launched a new hub for recreational cooking and professional development classes, dubbed The Mix. Designed for all skill levels, the classes fall into three categories—baking and pastry, cooking fundamentals, and wine and beverage—and all are taught by full-time CSCC faculty members and other industry professionals. The 2020 winter/spring lineup will feature about 35 to 40 different classes, ranging from knife skills to the fundamentals of winter stews to cocktail mixology. An interactive Date Night class offers couples the chance to prep a meal as a group before breaking off to enjoy a romantic dinner.

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Improve Yourself: Commune with Nature

Improve Yourself: Get Artsy (and Crafty)

Improve Yourself: Take Center Stage

Improve Yourself: Master Machinery

Improve Yourself: The Idea Foundry’s Maker Mix

Read the Improve Yourself series