Milwaukee has no shortage of delicious and diverse cuisine. And with options in every price range, there is sure to be something out there to please every palate without breaking the bank.
However, whether it's out of monetary necessity or the desire to dine without having to get fancied up, sometimes it's nice to have a quiet night in.
Even if you're not leaving it to the professionals, there's no reason you have to make it a Hamburger Helper night. Rather than settle for run-of-the-mill meals, Milwaukee's food professionals want to make sure you're fully equipped to whip up a restaurant-quality dining experience in the comfort of your own kitchen.
With cooking classes in everything from sushi rolling to the art of French cuisine, students can learn all kinds of tasty tools of the trade to bring home from venues across the city.
Antigua Latin Restaurant
5823 W. Burnham St., (414) 321-5775
Antigua's hands-on cooking lessons cover the tastiest aspects of Latin cuisine. From classics like paella and enchiladas to learning the insider secrets to the West Allis restaurant's favorite brunch dishes, these classes are sure to please.
Classes are typically held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Afterward, students are free to savor the fruits of their labor or take them home to enjoy as dinner (or an afternoon snack, for the impatient). And at $40 a pop, they're not too hard on the wallet, either.
If you're looking for a fun way to spice up your next party, Antigua also hosts private cooking classes by request.
316 N. Milwaukee St. #212, (414) 291-2655
Just because it's French doesn't mean Coquette's a one-trick pony when it comes to cooking classes. Yes, you can find lessons on how to make the perfect hors d'oeuvres, but their almost year-round sessions also specialize in plenty of other worldly fare. Upcoming classes include tasty tours of Greece and India, as well as delicious kitchen explorations of saffron and some classic comfort foods.
For $59 apiece (and an additional 10 percent off for the full series), students receive instruction on four different courses, taught by the cafe's Nicholas Burki, Chris Hatleli and Sous Chef James Barnes. Samples of each course come with a featured wine or beer, and each pairing is explained by a local wine/beer expert for the full foodie experience.
Held on select Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Coquette's cooking classes make for a flavorful and educational night out.
Milwaukee Public Market
400 N. Water St., (414) 336-1111
The Milwaukee Public Market has brought together a wide array of local vendors, so it's no surprise their class offerings are just as well-rounded. Its second-level demonstration kitchen hosts regular classroom-style sessions led by market chefs and special guests that cover ethnic specialties, seasonal dishes and even a little mixology. Named after Wisconsin organic cooking icon Madame Liane C. Kuony, the space also gives students the chance to blaze their own culinary trail with a similar selection of hands-on class options.
Prices for each class land in the $25-$80 range and vary widely depending on what's being covered. Each class offers tastings and sends students home with a printed recipe list of the night's featured dishes.
Outpost Natural Foods
Various locations, (414) 431-3377
Aspiring kitchen gurus on a budget are in luck when it comes to Outpost's cooking workshops – many of them are offered completely free of charge. Students must still register, though, since the co-op's popular Seniors Can Cook! and Cooking With Judy sessions often reach capacity. Fee-based classes are also affordable and usually run around $25, with discounts for Outpost members.
The co-op grocery, with locations on Capitol Drive, State Street in Wauwatosa and Kinnickinnic in Bay View, also hosts various other workshops and sampler days to keep students' palates amused.
Whole Foods Market
2305 N. Prospect Ave., (414) 223-1500
Like Outpost, Whole Foods Market offers a wide selection of affordable hands-on and instructional cooking classes. Here, not only can adults sharpen their kitchen skills, kids can also get in on what's cooking with a variety of less intensive workshops and fun food projects.
Many of the market's cooking classes are also seasonal. This October hosted the Halloween Haunts cupcake decorating classes and will also ring in more family-friendly frights with a caramel apple decorating workshop at the end of the month.
Registration costs vary and are based on class content. Upcoming class descriptions and information on how to register are available online.
Contrary to her natural state of being, Renee Lorenz is a total optimist when it comes to Milwaukee. Since beginning her career with OnMilwaukee.com, her occasional forays into the awesomeness that is the Brew City have turned into an overwhelming desire to discover anything and everything that's new, fun or just ... "different."
Expect her random musings to cover both the new and "new-to-her" aspects of Miltown goings-on, in addition to periodically straying completely off-topic, which usually manifests itself in the form of an obscure movie reference.