A couple weeks ago my stepmom and I took our first class at the New School of Cooking in Culver City. The class was "Simple Contemporary Sauces" and was intended to be somewhat global in scope and a purposeful deviation from the basic French sauces.
The school is really just a storefront, albeit nicely equipped. Basically all we had to bring were aprons and pens. I was skeptical about not bringing my own knives, but we were told they had knives. Indeed there was a decent selection of well-sharpened chef's knives, paring knives and a variety of other cook's tools as well as professional-strength gas burners, convection oven, etc.
At the beginning the teacher briefly discussed all the recipes we would be making. She didn't demo anything except how to cut up a mango. This is probably because the recipes were pretty easy and there weren't really any techniques to demo. Basically, we split into pairs and each pair took two recipes (recipe division was supervised by the teacher). Recipes on the agenda included a mole with pumpkin seeds (probably the most complicated item that night), some compound butters such as citrus butter and tarragon butter, chermoula, harissa, salsa verde (the one with parsley, not the Mexican salsa verde with tomatillos), tapenade, mango salsa, aioli, and maybe a few others that I'm forgetting.
My stepmom and I ended up with the salsa verde and the tapenade. The only time we got to get near the stove was to toast some almonds for the tapenade. It wasn't really "cooking" for us that night, it was more like "chopping and stirring." But we asked for those two because we wanted to do the tapenade.
Some of the sauces were made by two pairs of students, so it was interesting to compare the results. Skirt steak and chicken were grilled and halibut, salmon and new potatoes were baked and at the end we sampled all the sauces with the various proteins. Those who wanted wine were served some "Two Buck Chuck" sauv blanc or some sort of cheap red.
The teacher and her assistant were helpful during the class but really didn't have all that much to do since the recipes were so easy. The vibe was fun.
I am withholding my real evaluation until later in June, since I'm taking 3 more classes there in June all of which should involve more actual cooking and/or baking. At least I hope they do.
$75 per person, 3 hours (ours ended a bit early which was good because it was a work night)
Chowpatty included a link to New School of Cooking within the last few days so I won't re-link it now.