Ainsmar told us about a cooking class with a Moroccan theme and showing of Casablanca. We shelled out 175$ and this is how it went:
We arrived a bit early because I was worried about traffic. For some reason I thought it would be in an industrial park area. Nope. It was in someone's house. We parked. Chef Diane came out and started to direct traffic. When we got out of the car she didn't introduce herself or say welcome, she just told us we could go inside. She never did introduce herself.
The two helpers were inside. They couldn't figure out how to work the oven, the TV system, or the fancy coffee maker. There were packets of hot chocolate and tea bags, but no hot water for them. More and more people started to pile in. The tension began: Chef Diane started to argue with her helpers. It wasn't loud, it wasn't heated, but I could feel it, and I didn't enjoy it.
Chef then went through the recipes and told us how she would change some of them. Okay, if that is the case--then why didn't you take the time to change them before you printed them out? Most of the people weren't cooks, and had never had Moroccan food, so they were going to follow the recipes exactly. After the explanations (and some rules) she basically said --decide what you want to do and have at it. Then the chaos began. People running around, trying to figure out who was making what and where. Everyone trying to figure out where everything was in the kitchen.
More chaos and tension ensued. Chef did not know how many people were there, so the teams were unevenly divided. There were 17 people (she thought there were 19!) Too many for the amount of space and number of dishes (5). Poor Ainsmar was on his own making dessert, so Ross joined him. People were on top of each other, and there really weren't enough things to do for everyone to fully participate. Chef went around telling (rather than instructing I thought) everyone on how to do things. She was very controlling and was self-admittedly unpleasant. If she was kidding--she shouldn't have been. Her instructions didn't follow the recipes on some things, and that caused confusion.
More tension--no one could figure out the DVD player. Many of the guests tried to figure it out. She bickered and argued with her husband. That I could really feel and it was very unpleasant. There wasn't enough room in the ovens for everyone's dishes. I had to walk through her house--down a hallway that smelled like cat to use the restroom. I don't think cats and dogs belong in a professional kitchen--she didn't let them in until the end, but still. I didn't enjoy the yipping, yapping, scratching at the door dogs during dinner.
I want to say that the other people that attended the class were great. Everyone was friendly. The helpers were friendly, but brow-beaten into deferring to Chef, so they weren't always helpful--and I certainly didn't want to deal with Chef, which is why I asked them in the first place. I think Chef's attitude might have been right for a professional kitchen, and probably a professional classroom, but not for a casual cooking class. She actually argued with me about something non-cooking related. People shouldn't argue with their customers.
They never got the DVD to work. They ended up renting it through Fios and stopping it and restarting it from the beginning three times. There was effectively no sound. The movie part was really a bust. There were snacks at the beginning--toasted pita wedges with with hummus and baba ganoush, but we didn't start eating the food we made until after 10p. Wine was served with dinner. The lamb tagine sat on the counter because the Chef and her helpers were busy finishing the dessert. Meanwhile the lamb was getting cold. We were waiting for wine I guess. When we figured that out I just picked up the bottle and served our table. Ainsmar was really sweet and put candles in my dessert and had everyone sing Happy Birthday. Actually eating the dessert was difficult because I had already eaten so much food. All of the food was good. The lamb tagine was excellent. We ended up leaving at 11:45p!
This would have been a better experience with maybe only 6 people and 3 dishes. There were 3 different dishes with phyllo dough. That means three butter bombs. There was no real education going on. Ross was disappointed by that. Each person only got to see how their own dish was made. We didn't get to learn about the different spices. We didn't get to learn about much at all. For 175$ I could have bought a whole book of recipes and my own food, and figured it out by myself. I could have probably bought a tagine too. I feel like I paid for someone to wash dishes. Heck, I can just make Ross do that!
As strange as it may sound, I'm glad we went, but I will never go back. Eating all that food so late at night made it hard for me to fall asleep and caused indigestion in the middle of the night. Some Moroccan Mint tea would have been nice to aid digestion--if only that were my only complaint.