Sometimes, it’s just not enough to tick all those must-visit restaurants, bars and bistros off your list. Sometimes, you want to get your hands dirty (or sticky, or salty) and prepare that perfect plate of food yourself. Well, we wouldn’t blame you for being inspired to try your hand in the kitchen after eating your way through this fabulously foodie city. Luckily, Montréal’s got plenty of cooking classes – from well-known workshops to secret foodie favourites.
The Old Port is known for fine dining, so it’s no surprise that popular cooking and cocktail school Ateliers et Saveurs calls this neighborhood home. With everything from sushi-making to tapas, you’ll get hands-on experience and time to enjoy your meal or cocktail creations after class. Workshops ($22-$110) are normally in French, but translation can usually be provided.
They say there’s something therapeutic about watching someone else cook, which may be why Westmount cookbook store Appetite for Books has such popular workshops. Classes ($85-$131) are based on one of the books in the store, so on any given evening you could be introduced to fruity preserves, South-East Asian fare, or vegetarian classics. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a class presented by one of the cookbook authors themselves.
If you’re thinking more along the lines of long-term, vocational training, then the Institute de Tourisme et d’Hôtellerie du Quebec should be your first stop. They offer everything from ‘Restaurant Management’ to ‘Advanced Culinary Arts’ at secondary, college and university level, as well as two teaching restaurants where students hone their craft.
A long-standing institution in the Little Italy neighborhood, the Mezza Luna cooking school is hosted by mother and son team Elena and Stefano, plus a number of famous guest chefs such as Martin Picard (Au Pied de Cochon) and Nick Hodge (Icehouse). Here, you’ll find everything from traditional pasta classes to fish preparation (call to ask which are in English). Classes ($75 to $140) consist of a demonstration – arrive early to snag a front-row seat – followed by tasting.
For those with a sweet tooth, The Lincoln Apartment Bakery is a hidden gem tucked away above a cafe boutique in Verdun. Classes are focused on simple, delicious desserts and breadmaking – perfect for beginner bakers or families. The feel is “relaxed and rustic” and the 2-hour themed workshops such as “Chocolate Heaven” and “Pastry n’ Pies” will have you mixing, sifting, and frosting your way to the much-anticipated tasting session at the end. Classes ($35-$65) are in English (French available) and everyone goes home with a box full of freshly baked treats.
If you’re already skilled at the sweet stuff however, and have decided to up your pastry game (and your French skills), then you’ll want to be in the front row at the “serious amateurs” classes at renowned pâtisserie Maison Christian Faure. Each 6-hour workshop ($250) features one dessert and is a tantalising introduction to professional pastry techniques. And if you happen to be in Montréal on a Friday and you’re still not completely sugared out, grab a spot at Patrice Patissier, because the 3-hour demonstration classes ($100) by celebrated pastry chef Patrice Demers are the ultimate in French perfection.
After all that, you’ll definitely want to pick up a few tools of the trade, and you’ll be inspired and impressed by the selection at Les Touilleurs – a beautiful store that could double as a gourmet-inspired art gallery. Les Touilleurs also host cooking workshops ($95-$110) Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and there are plenty to choose from, especially if your French kitchen vocab is up to scratch (which it should be by now!)