Cooking Cajun at Central Market Cooking School

March 9, 2017 by Crystal

On the heels of our trip to New Orleans we saw an advertisement for a NOLA inspired Central Market cooking class and couldn’t resist. Cook, drink wine, and share a delicious meal with friends minus the prep or cleanup? Sign us up, please! What a perfect way for aspiring cooks to spend a cold Saturday night. We had a wonderful time and thought it was such a great value that we just had to share our experience.

On the menu:

The Experience

When we first arrived, we donned professional looking white aprons. Our class, already fairly small, was then split into even smaller groups; each group was assigned to a chef. There were 6 total in our group. First item on the agenda – wine selection. We had our choice of white or red wine; one generous pour to drink while cooking and another to enjoy with our meal. We were impressed by the quality of the wines that were offered. They weren’t expensive – definitely under $14 per bottle –  but very friendly. Included was a take-home booklet that contained the recipes along with space to take notes during class. Our chef was personable, funny and knowledgeable. In addition to teaching us how to create the menu, he gave us many practical tips and pointers as well:

  • The best technique for evenly salting food
  • A hack for pressing garlic without a garlic press
  • The importance of properly heating your pan BEFORE putting anything in it and how to tell when it’s hot enough
  • That the difference between high and low heat really has nothing to do with the setting on the stove burner dial but everything to do with the circumference of the pan and how far the flames reach
  • When you panfry a steak, you know it’s ready when it no longer sticks to the pan
  • It’s really okay to skip soap when you clean your cast iron pan

We even learned a new creole word – laignappe, which, according to Urban Dictionary, means “a little something extra.”

The Meal

Except for the Oysters Bienville, which were just okay, everything was wonderful. We were expecting a tasting menu, but it was more like all you could eat. Crackers and “love dip” were enjoyed along with our freshly made Oysters Bienville while the staff put together the food we made to serve. Everyone received a beef filet estimated at 6 ounces. Once the buffet opened, we helped ourselves to a generous portion of each of the sides. Some people even went back for seconds. Classic Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce ended the night on a high note. It was incredibly easy to make and so delicious.

Initially, we weren’t entirely sold on the idea of taking a cooking class in a grocery store, albeit an upscale grocery store. But the theme was appealing, the price was right, and the location and parking couldn’t be more convenient. The experience far exceeded our expectations. You will hear the occasional Central Market sales pitch, which is to be expected. All in, we paid $63 each with the early registration discount. We wouldn’t have been able to find a meal similar in quality at an establishment in Dallas for the same price. And we actually learned something in the process. If you have a Central Market in your area, we highly recommend trying a class. If Cajun food isn’t your thing, there are many other options available.