As a self-proclaimed foodie, I love to sample new cuisine and try out new recipes. I’ve found that the best, and most enjoyable, way to do this is to take hands-on classes with noted chefs at area culinary schools.

I recently participated in Chef Scott Baker’s French Bistro class at l’ecole de la maison, Osthoff Resort’s culinary school, in Elkhart Lake, and came away feeling that it was the greatest culinary adventure of my life.

I chose to prepare Coquilles St. Jacques au Gratin from our five-course menu, which also included French Onion Soup au Gratin, Lyonnaise Salad, French Gougeres, Tenderloin of Beef au Poivre, French Green Beans, Vichy Carrots, Potatoes Dauphinoise, Crepes Suzettes with Raspberries and French Baguette.

The chef offered helpful hints as I poached the scallops; minced shallots and parsley; sliced mushrooms; juiced a lemon; reduced the cream sauce; shredded cheese; covered the scallops with sauce, cheese and parsley; and broiled them to perfection.

Our class of 8 gathered for lunch to enjoy the fruits of our labors — one of the most delicious, memorable meals I’ve ever had. I received a packet of recipes to take home.

Osthoff’s 4- to 5-hour classes also include Italian Trattoria and Normandy Orchard. Two- to 3-hour workshops (including French Desserts and European Brunch) and 2-day courses (6 to 8 hours; Breakfast Bakery and Artisan Breads) are also offered. Accommodations are available onsite at the Osthoff Resort. cookingschoolatosthoff. com, (877) 804-8630

Here are some other culinary schools around the state that offer similar experiences year-round, unless otherwise noted.

At the Savory Spoon Cooking School in Ellison Bay, Chef Janice Thomas will guide you through a hands-on cooking class in her state-of-the-art kitchen housed in a charming, restored 1879 village schoolhouse from June through October. Choose from a variety of 21/2- to 3-hour classes including Asian bistro, Mediterranean flavors, Korean barbecue and Taste of Door County. Prepare a dish from start to finish and enjoy tasting a portion of each dish prepared in class. You may purchase wine or beer to accompany your meal., (920) 854-6600

Learn professional cooking techniques from John Bogan, owner/ chef of the Lake Geneva School of Cooking, in a custom kitchen located in a historic parsonage. Enjoy a sparkling wine reception with parmigiano popovers as the chef introduces himself, reviews the menu and demonstrates safety techniques. Then create a delicious dish from a 4-course menu under his guidance. After cooking is done, everyone sits down for a gourmet meal that you helped create. Classes include Thrill of the Grill; Steaks, Chops and Sauces; and Dinner Time, Wine Time: Americana., (262) 248- 3933

Guests at the Eagle Harbor Inn in Ephraim may join chef Terri Milligan for a culinary Weekend, which includes a 2-hour hands-on cooking class with the chef; Saturday night dinner, hosted and prepared by her; and a “behind the door” culinary tour of one of her favorite Door County “foodie” locations. They may choose from four 5-course gourmet menus that they will learn, prepare and eat. Inn guests may also schedule a private 21/2-hour hands-on cooking class for 4 to 8 people, followed by lunch, at any time during their stay. Classes include Professional Recipes for the Home Cook, Cooking from the Garden, Cooking with the Corleones, and French Country. (800) 324-5427

The Braise Culinary School in Milwaukee offers Braise Basics, hands-on classes covering a wide variety of culinary basics from bread-making to stocks and sauces, where you’ll prepare food under the chefs’ guidance. You’ll receive a complimentary Braise Bite and beverage at a 6 p.m. reception, followed by a 11/2-hour class, and a $5 coupon for an appetizer that evening if you stay for dinner. At yet another class, Tasty Topics, sit back and relax as a chef demonstrates that evening’s topic. You’ll receive samples of all the dishes being demonstrated as well as a recipe packet to take home. braiselocalfood. com, (414) 212-8843

Finally, join the chefs of Kohler at sessions held at the Demonstration Kitchen at the Shops at Woodlake at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Saturdays from January through April in their intimate, informal working kitchen, where you and the chefs can interact from preparation to presentation to final tasting. You’ll leave inspired to create your own delicious meals at home. activities/culinary, (855) 444-2838

Bon appétit!

 This article originally appeared in the 2014 fall/winter issue of Experience Wisconsin magazine. The contents of this article were checked for accuracy when it was published; however, it’s possible some of the information has changed. We recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the destinations, attractions or restaurants mentioned in this article. 

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