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Portland's Culinary Workshop Experience

Address: 807 N. Russell St., Portland, OR 97227 Phone: 503-512-0447

Posted: March 2017

For Christmas this year I asked for experiences and not material items. I am getting to the age where I am valuing time, people and experiences more so than objects. Also, I am adult enough that I can just buy what I need as I need it. I am also extremely single and for that I am completely open to taking on new experiences that get me socializing beyond of my usual routine. So, my clever brother & sister-in-law came up with the idea to gift me certificates for cooking classes at Portland's Culinary Workshop. I have never taken a cooking class before and wasn't exactly sure what to expect. How advanced do I need to be to follow along? What if we make something I don't like? 

PCW has a warm, friendly, casual and welcoming environment that makes you feel comfortable upon arrival. You are greeted by the instructor and invited in. At the front of the room is a long dining table fit to seat 16-18 people. Behind that are 4 large cooking stations which has room for 4 people to work at each station. In very back of the room is a large industrial kitchen and demonstration area. 

First off, there are several classes you can choose from. Basics to advanced, bread to pasta, sushi to ramen, Russia to Spain, breakfast to dinner, and more! Check out their website for a full listing of classes and schedules. Classes are a little on the expensive side, but it is completely worth it. They range from $45-$90 per person. Classes typically are 2-3 hours long and of course you get to eat what you cook! They do tend to fully book classes pretty quickly, but they do offer classes frequently. Just keep checking their website and I am sure you will find something that will be a perfect fit.

Tonight we are making vegan dishes with a south of the border theme. The beginning of the class we learned basic knife skills as well as an introduction to the ingredients we will be working with. At the end of the night we can take home a booklet of all the recipes of our meal.

We are creating a 5-course meal of made-from-scratch vegan dishes that are healthy, low-fat, contains natural and simple ingredients and are easy to replicate at home (no ingredients were used that are impossible to find at your average grocery store).

The staff does a great job organizing each dish's ingredients - pre-measured, grouped by dish, clean tools and utensils, and plenty of room to work. You work in teams at each work station and enjoy the meal family-style. Some parts of the meal prepping are done by the chef/instructor but done in a tutorial format so you can follow the steps, ask questions and even take a few taste tests to understand the flavors being developed. In the tutorials we made the brownie base and mousse for our dessert, as well as the walnut cream sauce for the enchiladas. All other dishes were made by our teams. 

At my working station I was paired with young woman who was looking for new recipes to add to her repertoire of 7 skillful dishes she knew she could make. But, also recipes that are healthy and vegan/vegetarian to align to her diet goals. An older gentleman joined us who was looking for new ways to incorporate vegetables into his diet keeping his interest in eating healthy.

It turned out my experimenting this past year with various vegan ingredients and techniques really paid off. I learned some new things but my skills, love for cooking and talent in the kitchen were validated.

Below is a list of dishes we made. All were absolutely delicious and I will be replicating at home.

1) Roasted vegetable (butternut, tomato, onion and garlic) enchiladas with a walnut cream sauce

2) Millet salad with grilled zucchini and onions seasoned lightly with yellow curry

3) A really good spicy pepita dip (ground pepitas with cilantro, chives, tomato, onion, lime juice, roasted garlic, and fire roasted habanero pepper).

4) From scratch whole wheat fry bread finished with a turmeric and cilantro oil... to die for!

5) A super decadent chocolate mousse with date brownie crust (the Whole Foods recipe) and I am going to definitely make this again. Yum! 

I am definitely going to sign up for another class... thinking bread making. 

So, get out there, try something new. Don't be afraid of your skill in the kitchen. You will learn the basics to get through the class and have plenty of help along the way. What a wonderful experience! I highly recommend PCW to everyone - on your own, on a date or as a group. Definitely check it out!

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