The holiday season is all about food, family and making wonderful memories. Gathering together to cook Thanksgiving dinner should be a special bonding experience, but the biggest home-cooked meal of the year can also create a monumental amount of stress. Burnt gravy, runny cranberry sauce and overly-salted stuffing are just a few of the common perils of Thanksgiving dinner. Juggling all those courses is a challenge, even for the most seasoned cooks among us. Despite the risk and trouble, most Americans still want to exert the effort. In fact, a recent study on Thanksgiving cooking trends by the National Restaurant Association says that only about 1 in 20 families choose to eat out on Thanksgiving. So, if you will be the one in charge of planning, buying and preparing the Thanksgiving meal — and think you may need to bone up on your culinary skills — before you don the apron, here are two Gainesville cooking class venues you should consider.
Fat Tuscan Café is a multi-purposed culinary establishment that opened its doors in October 2008. They host private events, weddings, in-house catering, and they also offer cooking classes. Located in Gainesville’s 100 year-old Historic Vidal House on First Street near Thomas Center Gardens, the Fat Tuscan offers seasonally themed group cooking classes ranging from gnocchi making to cheesecake classes and sommelier wine pairing sessions.
Classes are priced at $40 per person and each lesson teaches a different set of kitchen skills, ingredients combinations and cooking procedures. Wine pairing classes start at $65 per person and include the cost of the wine and food. The Fat Tuscan strives to expand their students’ knowledge of entertaining and of fine food and wine. Set in the ambience of yesteryear, the Fat Tuscan teaches Gainesville foodies how to make wholesome food perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Since 2006 Hogtown HomeGrown has been a venue for amateur chefs seeking a unique Gainesville cooking class. Founder, Stefanie Hamblen’s newsletters and website shares recipes, food-related events and promotes local businesses. Located off NW 31st street, Hogtown HomeGrown offers Gainesville cooking class series in either one, three or five sessions. Students can pick and choose what they want to learn how to make and Hamblen offers hundreds of menu choices as diverse as acorn squash and savory stuffing to zucchini with lemon and thyme.
Hamblen’s newsletters feature local foods and how to prepare them. Each monthly edition since November 2006 is archived and available for download on the Hogtown HomeGrown website. In one of her most recent editions, Celebration Food, Hamblen features the orange, yellow and sometimes red locally grown fruit, the persimmon and one of her favorite grouper recipes baked with basil lemon butter. This Gainesville cooking class fees start at $75 for individuals. A group of four can take a Hogtown HomeGrown class for around $325, depending on the services provided.