5 Reasons to Take a Cooking Class at The Chopping Block

Cutting fettuccine at the pasta cooking class at The Chopping Block at The Mart in Chicago.
Cutting fettuccine at the pasta cooking class at The Chopping Block at The Mart in Chicago.

Did you know it only takes four ingredients to make pasta? Neither did I. But I’ve always wanted to learn how to make pasta, so when CourseHorse asked if I wanted to take a cooking class in Chicago, I immediately found a pasta cooking class at The Chopping Block.

CourseHorse is a discovery and booking tool for local classes covering art, language, tech, business, fitness and everything in between. The cooking classes alone range from tastings and general techniques to specific dishes, like the Pasta Workshop at The Chopping Block at The Mart.

The Chopping Block is a store and cooking school that teaches one-off classes and full-blown boot camps for aspiring chefs. The pasta workshop was the perfect balance of learning and fun, and I already want to take another class. Here’s why.

 

5 Reasons to Take a Cooking Class at The Chopping Block at the Mart

Pasta ingredients at the Pasta Workshop at The Chopping Block at The Mart.
All the pasta ingredients were measured out at each station when we got to class.

1. It’s actually hands-on.

The Chopping Block at the Mart has a massive kitchen with multiple cooking stations and stoves, plus plenty of counter space so everyone can chop, mix, stir, prep and cook. There were about 20 students in the class, but we were divided into groups of four so it felt much more intimate.

Chef Joey Hahn taught the class, who boasts an impressive resume teaching in Italy and cooking at restaurants from Seattle to NYC (including wd-50, where I had one of my most memorable meals). He was assisted by two others so there was always someone around to teach a technique or ask for help.

 

Kneading pasta dough during the Pasta Workshop at The Chopping Block.
We mixed the ingredients to make dough, then kneaded it until it was the perfect consistency for pasta.

2. You can drink while you cook!

Beer and wine are not only available to drink during the cooking class at The Chopping Block, but encouraged. The Chopping Block has a full beer and wine list, with wines available by the glass or bottle. They even have recommendations that pair with the food and will package up any leftover wine to take with you. Or you can bring your own bottle for a $15 corkage fee. (The fee also applies to six packs of beer.)

 

Chef Joey Hahn talking about pasta at The Chopping Block.
Chef Joey Hahn taught us to recognize when the pasta texture was just right.

3. You learn a lot more than how to cook pasta.

The Pasta Workshop obviously focused mostly on pasta, but Chef Joey went way beyond teaching us how to transform flour, water, eggs and semolina into pasta. We learned how certain flour types affect the pasta and pasta variations. We also got a quick lesson on knife skills, best practices for all kinds of cooking and his recommendations for products.

Making pasta is more than just mixing four ingredients together and rolling it out. We learned how to recognize when the dough was the right texture and consistency at every stage, learned how to use a pasta machine to roll out and cut the pasta, and how to cook it.

Then we actually used the pasta in recipes, which means we learned how to make a lot of other things, too. We made ricotta and spinach-filled manicotti with tomato sauce, spinach pappardelle with Italian sausage and broccolini, and fettuccine alfredo with fresh herbs.

Pasta making class at The Chopping Block at The Mart.
Next we rolled out the dough using a pasta maker until it was smooth.
Pasta making class at The Chopping Block at The Mart.
Once it was smooth, we cut the pasta into sheets and ran it through the machine to slice it into fettuccine.

4. You get to eat the final product.

Regular readers know that my favorite thing to do is eat and we weren’t deprived of that at The Chopping Block! With five groups of four people all making pasta, we made a lot of food. Towards the end of the class, the kitchen was a hectic, high-energy room full of people rolling out final batches of dough, chopping vegetables or grating cheese, cooking sausage and finalizing the food. It was like being on a cooking show at the final moments!

But once everything was finished, we sat down on huge tables to relax, reflect on what we’d learn and — the best part — eat it! By the time we ate dinner we’d spent the past 3 hours cooking with each other, so it was fun to get to know each other better. And, since we made so much food, everyone got to take boxes of leftovers home!

Wine and ingredients for pasta at the pasta cooking class at The Chopping Block.
Meanwhile, other students made the manicotti filling, prepped herbs and grated cheese for the dishes.

5. You get a discount on everything at The Chopping Block.

The Chopping Block gives students 15% off anything that was used during the class — cooking tools, mixing bowls, even ingredients. For everything else in the store, there’s a 10% discount on the day of the class.

And CourseHorse offers $15 off your next class after you review the first one.

 

The final dishes: fettuccine alfredo, ricotta and spinach-filled manicotti, and spinach pappardelle with Italian sausage and Broccolini.
The final dishes: fettuccine alfredo, ricotta and spinach-filled manicotti, and spinach pappardelle with Italian sausage and Broccolini.

CourseHorse and Cooking Classes at the Chopping Block

The Pasta Workshop at The Chopping Block at the Mart is $90/person. The next dates are April 10, 2017 and April 23, 2017 and can be booked online via CourseHorse here. Check out other cooking classes at The Chopping Block (ranging from $30-$175) or the other 2,300+ cooking classes in Chicago on CourseHorse here. CourseHorse offers $10 off your first class and the more classes you take, the more discounts you earn.

Pasta workshop at The Chopping Block at The Mart.
Finally, we got to eat our freshly-made pasta and finish our wine.

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Disclaimer: I was graciously treated to the pasta workshop by CourseHorse. As always, all opinions are my own.

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