As I searched high and low on the internet for cooking classes that would fit my schedule and was close to home, I found the Fall Foodie Basics classes offered by Home Chef School at the upscale Culinaria Restaurant on Kennedy Road and Matheson Boulevard East in Mississauga, Ontario. Only a 25-minute drive away from my home, it was an eight-week workshop series that started with teaching basic knife skills two weeks after my surgery. Alas, my neurosurgeon first said no to me taking cooking classes, but after three weeks he gave me the thumbs up! This was the first cooking class I ever took in a professional setting.

About the Fall Foodie Basics classes:

From Home Cook to Home Chef in 8 Classes – You can purchase each of our 8 basic cooking classes individually, but then you wouldn’t get all of the learning and savings involved in our 8 class series!

We’ll start you off with the basics – kitchen Knife Skills.  You’ll learn tips and techniques from our Professional Chef Instructor to help you wield your kitchen knife like an apron wearing ninja. You’ll get to practice your newly learned skills throughout the 8-week series, while we cover almost everything you need to know about the kitchen! All of our Foodie Recreational Cooking programs have been created for individuals who are passionate about cooking and show a real interest in being in the kitchen. We’ll help introduce you to new techniques, methods and concepts, as well as help improve on the skills you may already have. We have designed the programs based off of our Professional Chef Diploma programs for our professional students that are emerging into the Culinary Arts industry.

Classes run for 8 consecutive Saturday afternoons. Unleash your inner foodie and join us for the entire 8-week series for huge savings! (You’ll also get a free apron to take home!)

This class comes with a FREE recipe book (PDF format).  Included in the book are the recipes we’ll be covering in your program. 

Knives, aprons and food are all supplied. Please feel free to bring in Tupperware containers to take home some of your leftover creations!

The Saturday classes run from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. The same classes are also offered on Monday evenings from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. The total cost of the eight-week program is $650 but you can attend individual classes ranging from $80 to $115. The classes began in September and will end before December 2015.

You can’t miss it on the road
The posh Culinaria Restaurant (I knew of this restaurant because it was a potential wedding reception venue for us!)

Because I was leaving for my apartment in Québec City soon, I was able to attend these three classes only:

  • Soups and stocks
  • Salads and hors d’oeuvres
  • Potatoes and starches

Other ones offered and I couldn’t attend:

  • Knife skills (the first class)
  • Poultry cookery
  • Meat cookery
  • Fish cookery
  • Desserts

It was a Tuesday when my neurosurgeon permitted me to attend these classes, and by Saturday morning I was already wearing a Culinary Arts School of Ontario apron! The only restriction my neurosurgeon told me was that I couldn’t lift heavy pots and pans so I asked the Home Chef School staff if I could bring my brother along (without paying for him) to help me.

Soups and stocks

That morning, I told our instructor Chef Anthony about that little complication with my neck and that I couldn’t lift pots and pans. It turned out that there was no heavy lifting involved so he allowed my brother to join in for free!

My brother got a free cooking class out of it!

We began the class by prepping all our vegetables for the Soups and Stocks course. We were to make:

  • Veal stock
  • Vegetable stock
  • Chicken stock
  • Butternut squash soup
  • Beer & cheddar soup with Kielbasa
  • Black bean soup with roasted poblano chiles

Is your mouth watering yet? We were sent a PDF of all the recipes the day before the course and the keener in me read them all.

We were only five in the group which allowed for close observation and scrutiny of our knife skills.

Veg prep in full swing

When I took my place in my station, Chef Anthony asked me, “How are your knife skills?”

“Umm, alright?”

Being the complete amateur that I am was, I had been chopping nearly everything wrong. Despite all the YouTube videos I had watched or cookbooks I had read on how to cut this or that, I was holding my knife wrong. Chef Anthony had no reservations with pointing that out to me (and to everyone else LOL) and made sure that I would handle a knife properly thereon. Useful techniques I learned included dicing onions, mincing garlic, and just general peeling, chopping, and dicing common vegetables. Just from these techniques alone my cooking (and taste of my food!) has improved substantially!

PROPERLY dicing carrots
My only picture with our chef and it was blurry 😦

We spent nearly half of the class chopping. LOL. It was tedious work but I took comfort in knowing that I was doing it properly and was producing beautifully and uniformly cut vegetables! Chef Anthony advised that it was best to get all of the prep work done so you can just cook away later. Before I would leave some vegetables uncut and then rush mid-recipe to prepare them.

Diced onions, diced carrots, and cubed butternut squash
Diced onions, diced carrots, and cubed butternut squash
Cutting the Kielbasa sausage for the beer and cheddar soup

And then it was COOKING TIME!!!!!!

My brother skimming the fat that floated to the top of the chicken stock
Chicken stock simmering away
Chicken stock simmering away

After seeing how easy (and incredibly fragrant) it was to make your own stock, I felt ashamed of buying those bouillon cubes or cartons for $2 to $4 for less than a litre. They’re also loaded with salt to prolong their shelf life so you’re not able to fully control the flavour of your soup or dish. So far I’ve made two batches of my own chicken stock and one batch of veg!

Starting the other soups. We used the stocks we made (veal, veg, and chicken) as bases for these.
Butternut squash and black bean soups
Seasoning our beer and cheddar soup
Chef Anthony told us that he is undeniably Costco’s number one fan. For example, he bought these dried mushrooms in bulk and went on a canning spree!
I could almost taste these in an antipasto
First soup up for tasting…
BEER AND CHEDDAR SOUP. It was sosososoooooo delicious and flavourful. It was my favourite from the class! I’ll post the recipe when I get around to it 🙂
Puréeing the butternut squash using an immersion blender. So much easier and more convenient than using a blender.
Butternut squash soup - sorry Chef but I think mine was better :) Click for my recipe!
Butternut squash soup – sorry Chef but I think mine was better 🙂 Click for my recipe!
We reserved some whole black beans for serving and puréed the rest in the soup
Black bean soup with roasted poblano chiles with toasted pepitas! This was great too. A very hearty soup!

Because the class ran until noon, this was pretty much our lunch! Everyone brought containers to take the extra soup home.

Brother and sister with our tupperwares

Before leaving, I took some pictures of the interiors of the restaurant LOL.

Private dining hall
Another private dining hall
Using our disability parking permit!
Our leftovers made for a great snack for this guy

I had such a blast learning from Chef Anthony so I decided to continue with the next class the following Monday.

Stay tuned for Chef Anthony’s beer and cheddar soup recipe and the other classes I took!

Home Chef School at Culinaria Restaurant is located at 5732 Kennedy Road, Mississauga, Ontario L4Z 1T1. They run various cooking classes year-round (except during the summer) for adults (including couples), kids, teens, and office groups of all levels.