Dear Squid Ink:
In your experience with the wonderful restaurants and chefs of our city, have you stumbled across any unique places that offer cooking lessons? My lovely and talented wife is quite accomplished in cooking various cuisines at home and I'm looking to surprise her with some unique cooking lessons.
--Charles Eldridge, Los Angeles
Dear Mr. Eldridge:
Is there any better way to stoke the fires of romance than through collaborative cooking?
For many couples, cooking classes make much better excursions than say, a spa day, mostly because you'll have left with new set of skills, a renewed sense of teamwork, and a full stomach. (Though it's worth mentioning that there is a Korean spa on Vermont which gives you a bowl of cold noodles after trip through the sauna.)
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The best options for cooking classes, especially when you're interesting in far-flung cuisines, are probably the ones offered at Surfas Cooking School in Culver City or The Gourmandise School located inside the Santa Monica Place Market. Both feature rotating roster of chefs specializing in different area, meaning that you'll be dealing with instructors who are experts in anything from Moroccan tagine cooking to Vietnamese clay pots.
If you're looking for specific events, I'd recommend checking out the upcoming classes hosted by Andrea Nguyen, a James Beard-nominated cookbook author and Saveur contributor hosting classes on dumpling and tofu-making at Gourmandise on Nov. 10-11. Another great option would be the UnCurry classes currently run out of Surfas from Kaumudi Marathé, a cookbook author and pop-up chef who specializes in the vibrant cooking of the Marathi region of India. Marathé's classes are often equal parts cultural studies, cooking lessons and sit-down feast -- because what could be better than learning about a super-fragrant curry you never knew existed and then learning how to whip it up for a weekday supper.
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