Think the only way to go out for dinner is to glance at the menu? There are several opportunities to learn, taste, and make new friends without doing dishes or calculating a tip. Italian, French, Mexican, and seasonal favorites give couples and cooking enthusiasts a chance to impress friends at home. But first, you have to learn the cooking secrets that keep tastebuds happy.

Lullu’s Tutto Cucina is all about having fun in the kitchen. Guest chefs and teachers impress the crowd with their skill and give students the confidence to go home and wow their guests. “We serve a full dinner with wine and recipes,” says Lullu Truitt, the owner of the shop. The classes can be hands-on and usually are about twelve guests at a time. “We say, what happens at Lullu’s stays at Lullu’s,” she says, who specializes in Italian cuisine.

“Italian cooking can be fast. I like sharing the knowledge. It is fun and I want people to learn to cook well. It’s not heavy; it’s not strangled in sauce. It can be light and proportional.”

Carl Meisel, owner of Carl’s Cuisine has been teaching others to cook for 34 years. “I just do everything under the sun. I started out teaching French cooking classes, then classic Italian.”

Now Meisel has traveled the world and brings all kinds of ethnic inspiration to his classes. “Cooking allows me to express myself and be creative over the years. I have met such an amazing variety of people. It is always different and I have been very fortunate.”

This fall Meisel’s contemporary Northwest cooking class will utilize attendees’ techniques and the bounty of the harvest. Classes start at $45 and are three hours long.

“We do a demonstration and we eat everything we make. Both afternoon and evening classes are available.”

Pedro Rosales, owner of La Margarita, shares his love for Mexican cuisine with the community. “We want to expose people to different Mexican foods,” says Rosales. So far the response has been very positive. “It’s fun to show your friends that Mexican cooking is more than rice and beans.” The average cost is $40 and includes dinner and a couple of margaritas, which means people are happy and entertained.

Kelly’s Home Center puts the equipment they sell and your cooking skills to the test. “Our classes are a great opportunity to learn basic techniques in cooking,” says Tori DeWolfe, Kitchen Store and class manager at Kelly’s Home Center. Mexican, Hungarian, Italian, plus seasonal dishes keep these kitchen classes popular. Besides adult classes, in August the kitchen will be open for kids’ and teen kitchen classes.

“We teach culinary skills and knife safety,” says DeWolfe. “If you are interested in having a group of friends for a class, we have several menus to choose from, and we can do private events,” says De Wolfe. Cooking classes, which include the opportunity to sample everything you make, start at $55. “If you have something in mind, come suggest a class.”

READY FOR A CLASS?

Lullu’s Tutto Cucina

357 Court St. NE Salem

503-364-7900

www.lulluscookingclasses.com

Carl’s Cuisine

333 Chemeketa St. NE Salem

503-363-1612

La Margarita

545 Ferry St.,Salem

503-362-8861

www.lamargaritasalem.com/Cooking_Classes.html

Kelly’s Home Center

3850 Hagers Grove Rd. SE Salem

503-378-1793

www.kellyshomecenter.com/cooking_school.html