D.C. Cooking School Teaches to Taste
Since 2009, CulinAerie has offered cooking classes to epicures of all skills and appetites. On 14th Street NW just south of Thomas Circle, the recreational cooking school provides wanna-be celebrity chefs and home-cooking heroes with state of the art equipment, experienced instructors and exciting courses to expand their kitchen acumen and menu repertoire.
This past Saturday, I participated in the CulinAeire class Learn to Fish, which walked participants through a number of manageable yet gourmet meals for seafood staples — halibut, rock fish and salmon. Though my involvement with food preparation usually begins and ends with a fork and knife, CulinAeire owner Susan Watterson and her staff led students through an engaging, newbie-friendly study of seafood cooking that started with a little biology lesson of fish type (round, flat and non-bony) and went straight through to the nuances of cooking fish with dry or moist heat.
After demonstrating the preparation steps for the day’s dishes, Watterson gave the class free reign to tackle the menu. Students chopped, stirred and sauteed at their own work stations, which came equipped with a personal burner, while sipping on wine.
I had a chance to chat with Watterson while waiting for my seafood curry to come to a boil. Having worked in the D.C. area as a restaurant chef and culinary instructor, Watterson says that D.C. diners distinguish themselves with their adventurous and globe-spanning tastes. “Washington is a well-traveled city with a sophisticated pallet,” said Watterson. “This trait allows CulinAerie to offer some exciting courses.”
Though trained in the French cooking tradition, Watterson puts together a wide-ranging curriculum that covers fundamentals from a lazy Sunday brunch to exotics such as Asian dumplings or Indian food and has no problem filling seats with District gastronomes.
Watterson says that couples cooking classes are the most popular and make for a great date night.
I tried my hand at the steamed rockfish with ginger and scallions, seafood curry and salmon cakes, and was pleasantly surprised by all of them!
Whether you are trying to become a master in the kitchen or are just learning how to sharpen a knife, CulinAerie has a course for you. Check out their class schedule here and try one out for the rare educational experience of learning while you eat!
Richard is a freelance writer who enjoys building a healthy appetite with long runs around the city. When not logging the miles, he can be spotted training the palate at brunches, happy hours and food trucks.