Best Cooking Class

Best: L’Academie de Cuisine
5021 Wilson Lane, Bethesda, (301) 986-9490
2nd Best: Zola Wine & Kitchen
505 9th St. NW, (202) 654-2855
Learning to chop, dice, and chiffonade before moving on to butterflying chicken and deboning fish are basics to becoming a proficient home cook. Because knife skills are so essential, it makes sense to learn them from the professionals at L’Academie de Cuisine. But finding a balance between learning and leisure is more of a challenge. The Wednesday night classes at Zola Wine & Kitchen are a touch less wonky but absolutely more fun: It’s dinner out during which you’ll learn a thing or two. Plus, the Penn Quarter space is sexy. Outfitted with a top-of-the-line gas and induction range, video cameras, and flat screens for hands-on closeups of demos, the kitchen also features an L-shaped bar for pre-class grazing and a big farmhouse table for enjoying the meal at the end. Stir Food Group executive chef Bryan Moscatello is an engaging teacher, bridging the gaps between those who know little—“does everyone know what mise en place is?”—and those who know their way around—“Who here would like to use the mandoline for cutting? You have to really be careful. Don’t cut your finger off.” Honed kitchen skills aren’t the only take-home. At the wine shop next door, expert Elli Benchimoll will help you score just what you’re looking for among eclectic offerings from $13 to $30 as well as auction gems for connoisseurs.