Ah, New York City, I love you! One of the many advantages to living in metro-NYC is the proximity to fine (as well as cheap) vegan dining and to the culinary arts. In January I took my first vegan cooking class at the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI) and I was hooked. Now I’m always on the lookout for classes. I attended a beginning raw class at NGI in March and an advanced raw class at Organic Avenue in April.
Easy Affordable Raw with Andrea McNinch at NGI
I’ll admit, I felt disappointed when I walked in. I paid $10 more for this class than the one in January and discovered it was a demonstration class (though listed as “partial participation” in the promotional materials). I paid $110 in January and I got to cook three dishes and had my own station. This time I paid $120 and sat at a table and watched the class. Because I was at the back table, I could see best by looking at the screen.
Sort of like live TV?
Oh, and I guess the “partial” participation was when I was invited up to hold the tamper in the Vita-Mix (Um, I should confess that I ordered a Vita-Mix shortly after the class so I guess that “participation” was good for the economy.)
Okay so I got over being disappointed and focused on the class and the recipes:
- Olive-Sundried Tomato Tapenade (made with honey…boo!)
- Pistachio Tapenade Biscotti
- Avo Fries
- Wasabi Mayo
- Portobello Steak
- Almond Butter
- Coconut Butter
- 30-Second Nut Milk (made with honey)
- Crudites with Cashew-Red Pepper Cheese
- Kelp Noodles with Creamy Peanut Sauce
- Veggie Nori Wrap with Asian Nut Spread
- Herbed-Garlic Mashed “Potatoes”
- Caramel Apples
- Panna Cotta (made with honey)
Impressive, yes? The Portobello Steak, Kelp Noodles, Herbed-Garlic Mashed Potatoes (jicama) and Caramel Apples were my hand’s down favorites!
I was bummed that honey was used in a few recipes. Andrea did ask if anyone avoided honey–I was the only one–and she asked the staff to make the milk without honey. They didn’t. I wasn’t able to try the Panna Cotta, either.
I wanted to love the avocado fries but they were super-bland. But I think I can modify the recipe and jazz it up.
Andrea was very energetic and clearly an advocate for raw foods but I found her a bit scattered in her instruction. I did enjoy most of her recipes, though, and am happy to report that I tried two recipes at home the following weekend, the almond butter and caramel,
Overall, I enjoyed the class, but it wasn’t love. I am a huge fan of the Natural Gourmet Institute and though this class didn’t wow me, I will return in May for a hand’s on class.
Turns out, this was a demonstration class, too. In this case, for an advanced class, it worked. Russell James is a phenomenal instructor and he made it clear that this advanced class was less about the recipes and more about technique. And he was right. I learned so much about how to do things, from knife skills to tempering chocolate to fermenting and culturing.
And the recipes were fabulous!
Russell Jame is an innovative, creative chef–every morsel was delicious–and he is excellent at instruction (Kelly and I think he should host a cooking show).
I had two very different experiences with these classes. I learned far more in the advanced class but I walked away from both classes with excellent recipes and my creative juices were flowing.