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An Unmatched Experience

Newport Beach Blog

October 17, 2017

Interactive Cooking Classes and Chef Demos

Have you ever had the juiciest turkey or perfectly flaky pie crust and wondered how to recreate the dish at home? If you’ve made a few attempts and still feel like you are falling short, you may want to get some tips from an expert. Luckily, you can share a few hours with a professional chef at one of these hands-on cooking classes or chef demonstrations right here in Newport Beach.

A Full Spread with Sur La Table

Photo credit Kelly Barcus

Soon after Sur La Table opened the doors of its first little shop in Seattle in 1972, founder and budding culinarian Shirley Collins shared her love of cooking and knowledge of French whisks with her new customers. A lot has changed since then as Sur La Table has grown to over 100 stores, offering premium cookware and ingredients to serious cooks across America. But, the expertise and excitement are no less from the chefs that teach the cooking and baking classes offered in-store at Sur La Table. Check out the full calendar of culinary experiences at the Newport Beach location in the Corona Del Mar Plaza just off Pacific Coast Highway.

I recently attended the French Macaron workshop at the Newport Beach Sur La Table, and the knowledge gained extended far beyond how to make those delectable little French cookies. First off, I was butchering the pronunciation of macaron, so I learned how to say macaron before making a macaron. All instructors have culinary degrees, and like our teacher Chef Pam, most have years of direct experience in the restaurant industry as chefs and bakers. While whipping meringues and buttercreams, Chef Pam shared her deep knowledge of baking, like the importance of aging your egg whites and using Dutch process cocoa to produce the perfect consistency for chocolate macaron batter.

Classes are seasonally inspired, so the line-up for the next three months includes a class paying homage to our favorite autumn squash, the pumpkin, a take-and-bake pie session, and a cookie-decorating workshop. Class size is limited to 16, and students work together in groups of three or four. Everyone gets a chance to measure, sift and fold, so you will be able to practice your technique. I left armed with tips and tricks to improve my at-home baking ventures, plus a box of treats to eat later.

Perhaps you like more savory options. Take a culinary trip around the world just by signing up for a few of the hands-on cooking classes at Sur La Table. Get inspired by the Thai, Mexican, French and Chinese classes and mix up your weeknight dinner menu, or learn chef-tested secrets on how to make fast, healthy meals. If you want equal parts food and fun, grab your girlfriends, guy friends, or special someone and head to one of Sur La Table’s couple or friend-focused classes. You and your partner will chop, mix, and sauté your way through a full-course meal, including dessert.

Photo credit Kelly Barcus

If you need a little extra help now that the holidays are rolling around, Sur La Table is here to make them as stress-free as possible. In upcoming classes, expert hosts dish on their best entertaining secrets and chefs demonstrate some of their no-fail (but still delicious) recipes, like a dry-brined turkey and make-ahead mashed potatoes.

Sign up online to reserve your spot, especially as holiday classes fill up quickly. If you are planning on taking multiple classes, wait to sign up for the next one in-store on the day of your first class. You’ll get $20 off each additional class!

Bread basics with Le Pain Quotidien 

There are few things that make a home feel more inviting than the enticing aroma of a warm, crusty loaf of bread emerging from the oven. As you could expect from a bakery with the name Le Pain Quotidien, translated “the daily bread,” its expert bakers show how they get the perfect crust on a baguette, make flaky, buttery croissants, and keep their whole wheat loaves soft and light. During a few hours in Le Pain Quotidien’s kitchen you’ll learn the ten steps of bread making. This starts with choosing the right ingredients (there’s only a few, so no skimping on quality here!) to mixing, shaping, scoring, and baking. Soon you will be pulling bakery-quality breads, biscuits, and scones out of your own oven.

Classes at Le Pain Quotidien in Newport Beach at Fashion Island are offered on Saturdays and Sundays. Classes for the younger set (children ages 8-14) are also offered throughout the year.

Friday Chef Demonstrations at Baker & Olive

Photo Courtesy of Baker & Olive

Baker & Olive is a specialty food shop with four locations in Southern California, selling gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegars as well as artisan cheese, charcuterie, fine wines, salts, and seasonings. It is the perfect place to pick up a gift for your favorite host or hostess. The flagship shop in Corona Del Mar holds demonstrations by Chef Mary every Friday from 1-2 pm. A menu from a recent demonstration included pork belly skewers with bacon marmalade, shaved fennel slaw, lemon evoo cake with berries and cream, accompanied by a mock mango sangria. Tempted yet? Space is limited, so call the store to reserve your spot and taste these creative and delicious bites.

If you can’t make it for the chef demonstration, head in to sample every variety of olive oil and balsamic vinegar imaginable (and even a few you’ve never thought of). Customer favorites include the Espresso Balsamic, which can be used on anything from meat to fruit and ice cream.

Sunday Chef Demonstrations at Williams Sonoma 

Each week, the Newport Coast Williams Sonoma offers a variety of workshops that range from chef demonstrations to technique and junior chef classes and more to share innovative ways to transform fresh ingredients into fabulous dishes.

An Evening with the Executive Chef at Roy’s 

Have you ever wanted a peek inside a restaurant kitchen to watch a chef work their magic? Hawaiian fusion restaurant Roy’s offers the chance to a lucky few, where executive chef Justin Castillo prepares your full-course meal while sharing his best kitchen tips and insights on how to make delicious island dishes. The menus are based on Roy’s staples, but usually with a few fun twists. The Roy’s in Newport Beach hosts these chef demonstrations for 25 guests every other month.

On months when the chef demonstrations are not held, Roy’s hosts a special five-course wine dinner. A local winery expert or representative meets with an intimate group of 40 guests to discuss the cardinal rules of wine pairing to get the most enjoyment from your meal. Last month, an expert from Justin’s winery, with vineyards in Paso Robles, shared which of their wines are best to sip along with your favorite Roy’s dishes.

To receive a notification for the next chef demo or wine dinner, sign up for Roy’s email newsletter. The spots for these nights fill up fast, sometimes within thirty minutes of the email blast. Be sure to respond quickly if you are interested in attending.

Cooking Classes with the City of Newport Beach 

Our own City of Newport Beach hosts several hands-on cooking classes throughout the year. Each class has a different focus, like tips for everyday home cooking and how to plan quick, nutritious meals for your family. Children’s classes are also offered, covering topics from cooking and baking basics to learning about cultures around the world through what they eat. See a calendar of upcoming events here.


Collaborated by Kelly Barcus
He is a travel writer and photographer. Over the past five years, she has lived in Los Angeles, Cambridge, England and Lisbon, Portugal. She now calls Newport Beach home along with her husband and young son. When she’s not enjoying the outdoors in Southern California, she’s traveling somewhere new and writing about it on her travel blog, No Man Before.

*Vector by freepic.com

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