I recently enrolled in a five-session, 25-hour recreational cooking course at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York (50 West 23rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues). On this blog, I'll summarize each class and provide some feedback and assessment. My goal is to provide a thorough opinion about the class for others who are thinking of taking it.
Fine Cooking 1: Background
Fine Cooking 1 is a recreational course. There are no prerequisites, so anyone can enroll. At the time of this writing, there appear to be four options for the dates and times its offered:
- on five consecutive days, Monday through Friday, from 10a.m. to 3p.m.
- on five consecutive evenings, Monday through Friday, from 6p.m. to 11p.m.
- on five consecutive Saturdays from 10a.m. to 3p.m.
- on five consecutive Sunday evenings from 6p.m. to 11p.m.
I'm enrolled in the Saturday series, although we are scheduled to skip one week in February, so it is not truly consecutive.
The weekend courses fill up quickly. To get a spot, I had to sign up well before all the information about this particular course (like instructor and menus) were available. ICE's website is pretty easy to navigate. Fine Cooking is listed as a recreational class under the category "Techniques of Cooking/Multiday."
The site requires you to create a user name and password before you can enroll and purchase a spot in a class. No big deal. After the purchase, I got a confirmation email. What I thought was strange is that after this one confirmation email—which for me was sent way back in early December—I didn't receive any more correspondence from the school. I was hoping to get a reminder email a few days before the first class stating what I should bring with me, how I should dress, and any other notes. Most people seemed to know enough to wear comfortable clothes that aren't too loose, close-toed shoes, and if a hair tie or bandana if they have long hair.
Still, I would have liked some kind of reminder or reaffirmation that the course was beginning in a few days, maybe with an update with information about the instructor and menus. I also would have liked to receive my reading material a few days ahead of time as PDFs, or even just a link to download them as PDFs. (I plan to give this feedback to the school once I've completed the course and have compiled more thoughts.)
Basic Class Size and Structure
When I arrived at the school on day 1, signs in the lobby directed me to the check-in point. The school's entrance is totally nondescript. You'd never know it was a cooking school from the ground level. When I got up to the right floor, a receptionist checked me in and gave me a binder with recipes and notes for the five classes. The pages looked like they had been photocopied many times over several years, totally degenerated. Some of them are hardly readable. They really need to be retyped and saved as PDFs. It's pretty bad.
Sixteen students are in my class to one instructor and one assistant. After the first class yesterday, I found out that the instructor will not be the same across all five classes, which I think is beneficial. I'm happy to experience more than one instructor's point of view.
I can see the appeal of taking the evening course because each class ends with a group meal, and I'd rather eat a big meal at the end of the night rather than the middle of the afternoon. But if I were to get out of the school at 11p.m., I wouldn't make it home until midnight, and that's too late for me.
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Read other posts in this series:
Fine Cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education, New York (that's the page you're on now...)
Fine Cooking 1: Class 1 at ICE, New York
Fine Cooking 1: Class 2 at ICE, New York
Fine Cooking 1: Class 3 at ICE, New York
Fine Cooking 1: Class 4 at ICE, New York
At the time of the course (early 2011), I missed class no. 5 and have been trying to make it up ever since. Whenever I do, I will post about it, but it's been several months and the availability seems pretty limited.