Back to (food) school

Upgrade your culinary IQ and health with local cooking workshops

Credit: Food Lab

When I think back to all the stuff I learned in high school and college, it’s no wonder I don’t use much of that knowledge every day. (Sorry about that, calculus. Thanks, Latin.) 

Some of the most essential wisdom I use daily I acquired the hard way. I know how to cook not because I attended culinary school, but from years spent toiling in hot Boulder restaurant kitchens. (There was a lot of yelling.) 

There is no question that knowing how to cook intuitively saves me a lot of money and makes it easier to eat healthy — when I feel like it.

A much easier path to eating enlightenment can be achieved by taking a class at one of Boulder County’s many cooking schools and businesses. 

April Stamm, Culinary Director of Boulder’s Food Lab, has seen scores of students have a lightbulb moment during its sociable, hands-on cooking workshops for adults and children. Many students may love Thai or Greek food at restaurants but fear preparing it themselves. 

“One of the main goals is to bone up on culinary skills that make cooking easier and to really dive into other cultures through food,” Stamm says. “At the end of every class, students taste what they prepared. You can tell they will never forget how to make the dish.” 

Stamm suggests that true kitchen newbies consider a knife skills class. “It really speeds up cooking and makes it safer,” she says. 

After that, Stamm recommends a class on fresh herbs. “We can get stuck in a rut only using basil and cilantro and there is a world of fresh herbs available now from farmers and grocery stores.”

Boulder County is home to a surprising roster of learning venues. Here’s an alphabetical directory including a handful of upcoming classes.

Credit: Food Lab

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts: Boulder professional school offers home cook classes: French Desserts and Pastry (Feb. 3); Taste of Thailand (Feb. 23); Plant-based Asian Dumplings (Feb. 28). 

Boulder Fruit Rescue: Learn how to help your fruit trees thrive through pruning with experts at Boulder’s Benevolence Orchard (Feb. 3, Feb. 10). 

Boulder Mushroom: Fungi grower Zach Hedstrom teaches classes in mushroom identification and cultivation.

Food Lab: Boulder school offers a wide range of hands-on classes: Vegan Valentine’s (Feb. 15); Kids Dumpling Workshop (Feb. 20); Date Night Argentina (March 15); Pho (March 21).

Growing Gardens: The Boulder farm hosts classes and camps: Front Range Vegetable Gardening 101 (March 7, 9); Irrigation for Home Gardeners (April 6). 

Journey Culinary: Longmont cultural cooking school’s classes: Knife Skills (Jan. 24, March 2); Peruvian Cuisine (Feb. 16); Macarons (March 9); Spanish Tapas (March 27).

OZO Coffee: Boulder-based coffee roastery hosts hands-on classes: Manual Brew Methods for Home (Jan. 14, March 17); Barista Class (Jan. 28, Feb. 25, March 3, March 24, March 31); Advanced Latte Art (Feb. 4, March 10); Intro to Coffee and Cupping (Feb. 18).

Piece, Love & Chocolate: Boulder shop’s classes include: Truffles and Ganache (Feb. 17); Pie (March 2); Eclairs and Cream Puffs (March 30).

Sur La Table: Classes at Boulder cookware store: Lunar New Year Fest (Feb. 2); Pasta Workshop (Feb. 6); Chocolate Workshop (Feb. 9). 

The Art of Cheese: Longmont’s cheesemaking school offers hands-on classes including a goat farm tour: Brie & Camembert (Feb. 25).

Ginger & Baker: Fort Collins restaurant and bakery has a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen. Classes include: Ukrainian Easter dinner (March 22). 

Leopold Bros. Distillery: The Denver distillery hosts monthly cocktail/mixology classes including one on Feb. 8.

The top 5 tools cooks need

Food Lab’s Stamm says that upgrading cooking skills does come with the need for good tools. Her top five must-have kitchen tools are: 

1. A good chef’s knife (and the know-how to sharpen it)

2. A microplane for grating 

3. Kitchen shears 

4. A plastic or metal pastry scraper for making baked goods and transferring chopped things from a cutting board 

5. An immersion blender — small and easy to use, store and clean 

Local Food News: Le Eau de Trefoil


Boulder County Girl Scout troops are now selling cookies to support their activities. For those who can’t consume the tasty treats, Procter & Gamble has released limited-edition body wash in Girl Scout cookie scents, including my favorite, Thin Mints, only at Target stores. 

Roots, the restaurant downstairs from Longmont’s Dickens Opera House, has reopened as The Passenger restaurant. 

Coming attractions: Veteran Italian chef Marco Monnanni will open Bucatino at 1265 S. Public Road in Lafayette, formerly Ting’s Chinese Restaurant. La Catrina Mexican Restaurant is coming to 4800 Baseline Road, Unit E-105, Boulder. Michigan-based Jet’s Pizza will dish Detroit-style pizza at 2609 Pearl St. in Boulder, former longtime home of Salvaggio’s Deli. Parkway Food Hall, 700 Ken Pratt Blvd., will open in May as Longmont’s first food hall. 

Culinary Calendar: Congregating Chefs

Feb. 29’s big CineCHEF tasting event during the Boulder International Film Festival at Rembrandt Yard will feature fare from the following chefs: Michael Bertozzi of The Kitchen, Rich Byers from Jill’s, Gage Hascall-Dove of Blackbelly, Bradford Heap from Salt, Kevin Kidd of 24 Carrot Bistro, Sheila Lucero of Jax Fish House, Jeremy McGinty from River & Woods, and Bob Sargent with Savory Cuisines Catering. Tickets: 

Local farmers: Do you have 2024 CSA shares available? Details to: 

Words to Chew On: Where You Shop Matters

“Corporate greed has won again. The lobbyists have paid our politicians, transplants have voted to make our state like their old ones, and Colorado now steps in line to destroy independent small business in favor of the grocery store chains and price club retailers. We’re done folks. Going out of business.” — Facebook post from Longmont’s Three Rivers Wine & Spirits, closed recently at 1020 Ken Pratt Blvd. 

John Lehndorff can chiffonade basil, flip eggs without a spatula, make a roux, torch meringue and grow shishitos in his living room window.