This article was originally published in the October 2018 Princeton Echo.
The Princeton community’s vaunted diversity is on display this fall, not in a theater or a museum, but in the cooking classes offered by the Princeton Adult School. Many of these classes are offered at the Cucina, a rental commercial kitchen in the Princeton North Shopping Center on Route 206 that currently hosts five food-based businesses as well as various cooking classes.
One of those food entrepreneurs is Sheetal Sharma, owner of Curries and Chutneys, which offers weekly pickup and delivery of various Indian-style entrees in 8 and 16-ounce sizes ($6 to $13) as well as sweet chilli, apple ginger, and dates tamarind chutney ($8). She offers four different courses in Indian cooking, each running for one or two Saturday evening sessions. Classes include preparation of a vegetarian meal (October 13 and 20, $130), a non-vegetarian meal (November 10 and 17, $130), a vegan meal (December 1 and 8, $130), and Indian instant pot cooking (November 3, $60). For a taste of what you might make, check www.curriesandchutneys.com.
Also based at the Cucina is Karen Ambrose, owner of Sweet Gourmet, who offers Wednesday evening courses on cookie decorating (October 24), buttercream design (November 28), and fondant (December 5) — just in time to impress friends and families for the holidays. Each course meets from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and costs $60. When she isn’t teaching, Ambrose is baking made-to-order cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. Founded in 2017, Sweet Gourmet “all started with an eight-year-old begging for a cake decorating kit,” Ambrose writes on her website, www.sweetgourmet.biz. “I cannot promise no fat or reduced calories, but I can promise you desserts that are fresh and delicious.”
Several Princeton-based chefs are also part of the international culinary tour. Jose Lopez, the head chef at Nassau Street Seafood, and Edgar Urias, head chef at Blue Point Grill, team up to offer “Nuevo Latino Fusion Cuisine That Is Built on the Zesty Tropical Flavors of the New World.” The course has three Tuesday evening sessions that began September 25 at Nassau Presbyterian Church.
Another member of the JM Group team, beverage manager Will Rodriguez of Witherspoon Grill, invites students ages 21 and up to the restaurant on Monday, November 5, for a course on Old World vs. New World wines. Rodriguez will discuss the characteristics of the different wines and how to taste them.
Also on offer is a double dose of Greek cooking. First, proprietor Tony Kanterakis and chef Stratos Karabsis of Local Greek invite aspiring chefs to the restaurant to learn about traditional Greek cuisine. On the menu: Greek salad, tzatziki dip, meatballs, and kataifi, a phyllo, honey, and nut dessert. Monday, October 29, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. $60.
If you like what you make, you can return two weeks later for a dinner date with food writer Pat Tanner (a former Echo contributor), who will lead a tasting and discussion of a variety of Greek dishes. Thursday, November 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $65. Tanner also offers a course on the art and science of restaurant reviewing. Tuesday, October 30, or Thursday, November 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $35.
And finally, there are talented home cooks who are sharing the cuisine of their homeland with a new audience. Nurcan Guleryuz offers lessons in Turkish cuisine; Linda Jin gives two courses on modern Chinese courses: simple and healthy steamed dishes for busy people, Friday, October 19, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and noodles with fried fermented soybean pasta sauce, Friday, October 26, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. $120. And Magalie Vandewiele teaches “French Cooking with a Twist!” beginning Friday, November 2, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. for three sessions ($170). Each session includes the preparation and consumption of a three-course traditional French meal. Classes are held at Princeton United Methodist Church.
For a full schedule and to register: www.princetonadultschool.org.
The Cucina: www.thecucina.biz.