The “it” gift among enlightened anti-consumerists this season is experiential: No wrapping, no waste—just a memorable time gaining skill in an area the giftee values. Like the culinary arts. Three cool ideas:
Benihana's “Be the Chef” package: For $140, the wannabe teppanyaki chef on your list gets to learn tabletop hibachi and flashing knife skills, and feed three guests in the bargain. (To bring more appreciators, pay $35 each.) Swag includes Benihana chef hat, apron, diploma, and commemorative photo.
Tom Douglas’ Hot Stove Society Class: The sprawling industrial kitchen above the lobby of the Hotel Andra is home to a full slate of very good cooking classes, most of which involve glasses of wine and pretty good eating. January’s lineup includes Penn Cove Shellfish (January 9, $85), Curing with Armandino Batali (January 13, $95), and Triple-Coconut Cream Pie (January 24, $85…with students taking a pie home).
Imagine Food Iconic Dinner Series: The inventive enterprise of Modernist Cuisine co-author Maxime Bilet, Imagine Food is a sort of interactive food museum devoted to exploring relationships between food, technology, and art. A lineup of classes makes this rather abstract mission rather delectably concrete—classes on making holiday meals using modernist technique (December 5, 6:30-10pm, $175 per person) perhaps, or holiday dinner evenings (December 18 and 19, $175) which take the form of 12-course tastings. (“We'll use the familiar to communicate the complete experience of how modern cooking, art, design and innovation reshape the boundaries for the way we perceive food,” is how they describe this one.) Post-holiday classes hit the online calendar within the next week.