My Experience at the Gourmandise School + My Favorite Recipe from the Class

May 7, 2018

Photography by Eddie Sanchez

We’ve all had a cooking fail. We start out in the kitchen thinking we're on our way to beating Bobby Flay and end up with a dry chicken breast or rubbery salmon over bland rice. Just because we see how easy things look on TV or Facebook videos, doesn’t mean we’re going to be the next Top Chef. If you're  beginner cook like me, it takes direction, instruction, practice, and passion to be able to learn the skills to cook well. You probably have the last part down, no one follows more food Instagram accounts than you but you’ll need the help of some pros to get you to tap into the skills you need to take your cooking to the next level. Good thing there’s The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories. 

Located in the Santa Monica Place Shopping Center, The Gourmandise School offers hands-on cooking classes in LA for all levels of cooking - beginners to pros. There are several baking and cooking classes, including professional series and special food workshops. Unlike just learning recipes online, the school is designed to teach you how to develop your culinary intuition and create amazing meals. You acquire the knowledge and skills on not just how to cook a specific dish, but how ingredients and cooking methods relate to one another. The classes are taught by chefs, and industry professionals who are passionate about teaching you their specialties and techniques. 

One of those instructors is Chef Carol Cotner Thompson who has been teaching people how to cook for over 25 years. She recently led the "Learn How To Cook" 10-week series that I had the pleasure of attending along with a group of home cooks from all levels, some pursuing a culinary career while others, like myself were wanting to take their cooking skills to a new place. The 10 week series was broken down into 10 main topics that helped you master that technique or ingredient by the end of the class. The class, approximately 3 and half hours started with a quick lecture of the ingredients and cooking techniques we were going to learn. Chef Carol explained everything in a way that was easy to understand and when the lecture was over and we were at our cooking stations, I felt confident and assured that I could cook the dishes we were set out to execute that day. Every class ended with delicious meals that resulted in leftovers to bring home. I know my wife looked forward to the days I was in class because of those tasty leftovers I got to bring home!

Chef Carol Cotner Thompson - one of the instructors at The Gourmandise School. 

The Gourmandise School was a game changer for me. Prior to that, I could say I dabbled in the kitchen but knew I definitely needed to up my game. After just the first week in the “Knife Skills class,” I felt confident and actually looked forward to chopping veggies and handling a knife like a pro. The skills I learned in the several cooking methods Chef Carol taught us has been invaluable to me as I continue cooking. Above all, my love and passion for food has intensified and I truly enjoy cooking for myself and for others. I’m so grateful for the experience and know that it’s just the beginning to a lifelong culinary journey of gatherings with friends and family over amazing meals

Below is one of my favorite dishes from one of the cooking classes. I find myself making this more often than I should! It’s that good and so simple to make. Read on for the full recipe. 

The Gourmandise School has a specialty shop with the best culinary tools you'll need in the kitchen as well as tasty eats. 

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

2 tablespoons: olive oil
2 ounces  of diced guanciale or pancetta
1/2 red onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 teaspoons of hot red pepper flakes 
1 cup of crushed tomatoes (preferrably San Marzano) 
1/4 lb of spaghetti or bucatini
1/4 cup grated of Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese 
1 ounce of butter 
Render the pancetta in olive oil.
Add the onions and continue to cook until the onions are soft.
Add the pepper flakes and garlic and continue to cook one minute.
Add the tomatoes and simmer for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.
To serve, toss the cooked spaghetti, cheese and butter in sauce. Season with salt and black pepper.

The Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories
395 Santa Monica Place
Santa Monica CA 90401

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Special thanks to The Gourmandise School for collaborating with Hungry in LA. As always, the content and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.