I've always enjoyed cooking, and I've toyed with the idea of going to culinary school for a few years. I never really looked into it until recently...
What got me started on the idea again is the book I'm currently reading: The Sharper the Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn. I'm just halfway through the book, but the things she's had to do as a student at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris have led me to rethink my dream.
Curious, I checked out the website for Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas and read through the course descriptions for Culinary Arts. The first two "Foundations" courses seem okay: terminology and organization, stocks and sauces, safe food handling, slicing and dicing, following recipes, soups, and cooking with vegetables, grains, and eggs. All that I can handle.
It's the third "Foundations" class that gets me squeamish: butchery and pork products (as in making sausage, etc.). That, I don't think I could handle. I'm not one for filleting fish or beheading chickens and rabbits, and I prefer to buy my meats already prepared, already ready for my seasoning and cooking.
There's a second option: Baking and Pastry Arts. That would be fun, but it's not what I'd like to focus on. Sweets are fine, but I prefer savory foods.
Tuition is another hang-up. While I don't expect it to be cheap, I don't want to spend $17,000+ on certification in something that I'm not sure I want to do professionally. This is more along the lines of something I'd like to learn for my own personal enjoyment. You know, like taking fun cooking classes.
As I was perusing the website, I found just the thing that interests me: MasterChef Non-Professional Cooking Classes. They offer a range of classes from basic culinary skills (including some of the lesser-desired classes like butchery), basic baking skills, seasonal/holiday cooking, and - my favorite - international cuisine! You can opt to take only a class or two that you like, for $99 each, or you can sign up for a whole series of 6 classes for just $479. (You can also take a year of 24 classes - all six classes in each of the four categories - for $1,499, but I'm not interested in that.)
The series that most interests me is "International Cuisine 101". The six classes feature foods from France, the Mediterranean, Italy, Asia, Spain (tapas), and Latin America. This is exactly what I'm looking for! The only catch is the class on French cooking is this Saturday - which is too soon for me. The other classes don't pick back up until January, then run one each month (except for May) until June. The classes are on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., so they wouldn't interfere with Billy's work or classes. Most Saturdays, we're home not doing much of anything. That might also be an incentive for my sister Lindsay, who also loves cooking and taking cooking classes, to come for those weekends and join me.
I'd love to know if the next French cooking class will be scheduled for July 2012. If so, that might be perfect timing for what I want to do. I'd be able to save up some money from birthday and Christmas to pay for it. I might even ask my family for money instead of gifts to help pay for it. That would be an excellent gift!
I'll do a little more research and see if I can find out about that French cooking class. I think it'd be my least favorite of the six, but I'd rather pay $479 and include it than pay $500 and take the classes individually.
Update: I take it back. I would like to try the French cuisine class. I just remembered the savory crepes from La Madeleine, as well as their potato gallete, seasoned, I think, with herbs de Provence. They're wonderful, and I would love to learn to make something similar! Bring on the French!