The Best Reno-Tahoe Cooking Classes

The Best Reno-Tahoe Cooking Classes

A quick and dirty guide to Reno-Tahoe’s best culinary classes.

With the abundance of farm-fresh produce available at area farmers’ markets and farm stands, it’s a good idea to learn how to transform it into delectable dishes. When you’re yearning to use a long-neglected saucepan, sharpen your knife skills, or find a new way to use chicken breasts, you can choose from an amalgam of Reno-area cooking classes that can prepare you for a new kind of date night or even help you embark on a new career.

Consider any (or all) of these Reno-area cooking classes for couples, a group of friends, or just for yourself.

Nothing To It! Culinary Center

Nothing To It! Culinary Center
225 Crummer Lane, Reno • 775-826-2628 • Nothingtoit.com

Great for: Foodies who like to socialize

Opened in 1995 at the behest of the founder’s friends, Nothing To It! has become a culinary pillar for Reno-Tahoe food lovers. Boasting a gourmet deli and storefront selling the best and latest cookware, Nothing To It! has one of the most comprehensive class calendars for the budding chef, from basic techniques to exotic cuisine, which culinary director Lara Ritchie describes as “for the home cook.”

“Our most popular classes are any Italian, French, or Thai class. Sushi classes and our couples’ cooking classes also are in demand,” says Ritchie, a former sous chef with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

The kitchen, a 6,000-square-foot culinary center, was constructed for maximum participation from every student; each student group has its own burner and oven to enhance collaboration and the hands-on experience.

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Casey Bell turns his group’s pour-over peach cake out of the skillet during his cast-iron cooking class at Nothing To It! Photo by Jen Schmidt

“What makes us a bit different from other cooking classes is that each group makes the whole menu,” Ritchie says. “Usually, when you go to cooking schools, one station makes the entrée, one makes the side dish … you’re not making the whole meal, so it’s not a complete picture.”

Aside from its international classes, NTI’s clientele is as varied as its Reno  culinary classes, ranging from its Kids Cook! and Teens Cook! Courses  to Girls’ Night Out, couples cooking  classes, and private classes. Ritchie says attendees’ motives all are different, from trying something new to embarking on lifestyle changes.

In addition to hosting the occasional guest chef, Nothing To It! also has started offering team-building classes for company managers who want to give employees new ways to work together.

“It’s a unique way to team build if you’re tired of doing trust falls,” Ritchie says. “Even if you don’t cook, you still eat. It’s something people can create and enjoy together.”

Nothing To It! instructors will accommodate diet restrictions, but they ask that participants let the staff know ahead of time so they can prepare the necessary substitutions. Ritchie warns that for less-common allergies, it may be best to avoid some more specific classes. (People with pepper allergies should skip the Thai class, for example.)

For more details and a class calendar, visit the website.

Sierra Chef

Sierra Chef
2292 Main St., Ste. 3 & 4, Genoa • 775-392-4417 • Sierrachef.com

Great for: Families and those who care to cook with locally sourced food

Sierra Chef plays a big role in the local community, from its farmers’ market to its contribution to history (the founder’s great-great-uncle invented the Ferris wheel). There are few food-related offerings Sierra Chef doesn’t cover, from hosting brunches to letting school-aged students grow their own ingredients nearby as part of the business’ youth culinary camps.

Cynthia Ferris-Bennett started Sierra Chef in 2015, a natural evolution from running her storefront in Genoa. The store’s emphasis on fresh food and quality ingredients (it sells everything from soups to Italian baked goods, which includes peanut butter biscotti for dogs) has translated to the Reno-Tahoe-area cooking classes. 

Typically, Sierra Chef’s menu of culinary classes runs the gamut, from learning how to cook with cheese to making ravioli (which Ferris-Bennett says is easier to accomplish than one might think). Regional cuisines covered in cooking classes for adults include Latin street tacos and French favorites such as coq au vin — though the most popular class involves making pasta from scratch. Young chefs also have opportunities to learn with Sierra Chef’s youth-oriented cooking classes. Class sizes typically are capped at about 12 people, a number that ensures everyone gets to do everything. All the offerings make great couples cooking classes, too.

“This isn’t a demo class; it’s very hands on, and it’s a working kitchen, so there’s stuff going on around [participants],” Ferris-Bennett says.

Sierra Chef makes every effort to accommodate enrollees’ dietary needs whenever possible, and its commitment to fresh, local ingredients is a draw for many. 

Follow the website for the latest details on class availability.

Truckee Meadows Community College Culinary Arts

Truckee Meadows Community College Culinary Arts
7000 Dandini Blvd., Reno • 775-674-7917 • Tmcc.edu/culinary

Great for: Those who are interested in pursuing chef careers or just upping their at-home culinary game

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TMCC culinary student Clare Steppat ladles vegetarian chili. Photo taken in spring 2020, prior to COVID-19 mandates for masks and social distancing. Photo by Shaun Hunter

TMCC caters to every breed of chef, from solid beginner to food-service professional — and it offers an unmatched 8,000-square-foot kitchen. 

“People come by to see our facility and say, ‘I want to come play in here! I want to cook here!’” says Karen Cannan, TMCC culinary arts professor. “We have a large kitchen and a large program, but it still always feels like a tight-knit group.” 

Generally, the maximum Reno cooking class size is 18 people. The college’s courses are accredited by the American Culinary Federation, meaning participants can earn college credits while they cook. But aside from the official course catalog offerings, TMCC hosts special-interest Community Education cooking classes that don’t require prerequisites and introduce participants to various cuisines and  techniques. These make great couples cooking classes. Find classes such as Principles of Baking, Aromatics/Restaurant Experience, Saucier, Pastry Arts, and many others. Those playing with the idea of opening their own food businesses might find The Business Chef useful. 

Cannan says that while the breadmaking class sees the highest demand, the school always is churning out new courses. Keep an eye out for upcoming special interest classes such as a Sonoma culinary tour, vegan meal prep class, and, potentially, a canning class. For seasonal classes (learn to make a gingerbread house in December!), look under CUL 195 or CUL 198 in TMCC’s course catalogue.

Cannan explains that instructors take exceptional care with students’ dietary needs and restrictions at the start of each class series and will make necessary ingredient swaps so that everyone can participate.

 

Jane K. Callahan is a Reno-based writer who taught herself to cook and is always searching for exotic new recipes on Pinterest.

 

Other Cooking and Culinary Classes

These establishments also offer Reno (and Tahoe-area) cooking classes, including couples classes. Contact the places directly or visit their websites for the most current information.

Restaurant Trokay
10046 Donner Pass Road, Truckee • 530-582-1040 • Restauranttrokay.com/events

The Tahoe Dinner Bell
Private chef teaches classes in your home.
530-903-1743 • Thetahoedinnerbell.com/ice-sculpting

Williams-Sonoma
The Summit, 13945 S. Virginia St., Reno • 775-853-6877 • Williams-sonoma.com/pages/store-events/store-events.html

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Discover new products, thriving traditions, or exciting food events, festivals, restaurants, and markets – all of the things that are helping to make us a true culinary destination.