Cooking shows are all the rage on TV, and during the pandemic, many people declared themselves amateur chefs, learning new dishes and experimenting with new recipes. That love of food has led many to seek out cooking classes, and thankfully, the D.C. area has numerous options that allow would-be chefs the chance to learn how to make dishes from all over the world.
David Ross, owner of Eckington Hall, has organized a number of hand-rolling sushi classes featuring renowned sushi chef, Master Made, who has more than 10 years of experience in sushi restaurants across the country — from traditional to fusion.
“The classes are extremely popular,” Ross says. “People just enjoy learning how to do something in a group activity and come out with a product they really like.”
The next three sushi classes will be held September 29, October 6 and October 20, all at Eckington Hall.
Ross also created classes revolving around pasta, steamed dumplings and more, and he’s planning several other cuisine experiences for 2023.
“The age range is usually around 25-40, and it includes couples and single people; we even have one being sponsored by match.com,” Ross says. “It’s a diverse group and offers a great night out.”
Aspiring chefs and foodies have plenty of other options for cooking classes around the D.C. metro.
Cozymeal has a plethora of classes, including Night of Spanish Tapas, taught by longtime D.C. Chef Chericia, available almost daily throughout the next few months. Other classes include a Roman-inspired Italian dinner, vegetarian favorites of Asia and Northern Italian duck.
Open Kitchen D.C. hosts boutique food events for the culinary curious seeking to expand their palates, working with immigrant chefs who teach food from their homelands. For example, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant will be hosting a cooking class inspired by Middle Eastern, Chinese and Russian flavors.
CocuSocial, which started in New York City in 2016, has been offering cooking classes in the D.C. market since 2019, though the pandemic significantly interrupted food-related operations.
“We have carefully navigated bringing classes back over the last year, and it’s been especially exciting to re-launch D.C.,” says Charlotte Henesy, account manager for CocuSocial. “In the D.C. market, we offer six different topics at the moment, with more coming soon.”
Currently, CocuSocial offers cooking classes each week that include sushi, empanadas, handmade gnocchi and various Indian-themed dishes. Classes are held in D.C., Alexandria, Reston and Derwood, Maryland. A full list can be found at CocuSocial’s website.
“The trend of culinary-curious folks has certainly been gaining traction over the years,” Henesy says. “Of course, the historical significance and tradition of gathering around a table is not lost on us; whether it’s a grandparent teaching their grandchild a coveted family recipe for the first time, or coming together with loved ones to enjoy a special meal to celebrate a holiday or life event — the process of cooking and enjoying a meal is a common thread across all cultures and generations.”
CocuSocial’s mission speaks to this, with its goal to bring people together over a shared love of food.
“It is also incredibly fulfilling to master a new skill, and we have customers of all ages coming to our classes specifically to challenge themselves or take on a new hobby which is quite special,” Henesy says. “We love that people are excited to become better home cooks, and that we can give our talented chefs a unique career option that leverages their skillset outside of traditional restaurant roles.”
In her role, Henesy is tasked with onboarding chef instructors who are not only passionate about culinary, but also have a love for teaching.
“I connect with chefs through various job boards as well as prospecting via social media, industry events and through existing connections,” she says. “As for venues, I search for unique spaces in hip neighborhoods that lend a fun and engaging environment to our customers while also being supportive to our chefs’ logistical needs. It can be tough to find the right space for these pop-up style classes, but there is no better feeling than when I make a connection between a chef and venue that translates to a strong partnership and happy customers.”
Two of its most popular classes are empanada making with Chef Gustavo at La Cosecha and the sushi classes at Eckington Hall.
“We like to keep our popular classes in rotation on a consistent basis as they tend to sell out quickly,” Henesy says. “However, we are often getting new topics up and running at least every couple of months. Keep an eye out for more pasta classes, dumplings and pastry topics coming soon.”