12 Date Ideas for the Cooks in Chicago
Chi-town takeout is in a league of its own thanks to deep-dish pizza, cheesecake, hot dogs and other local favorites; it’s the perfect answer to a date night in. But unless you’re aiming to gain a thousand pounds eating takeout every night, you’re going to eventually have to suck it up and cook something yourself. Luckily, Second City is home to some fine cooking classes, giving you a great date night out while also preparing you for future romantic evenings in. Here are our picks for great cooking classes in Chicago that you and your bf/gf need to try.

Throw an upscale tailgate party

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Chicago is a sports town, and even if our teams lose, we still gotta support them by eating food and drinking beer in the parking lots. Take your tailgate food to the next level with this tailgate-inspired cooking class. You’ll prep dishes like roasted garlic and bacon dip and supreme pizza soup, both of which are fine additions to your game day food repertoire. But be warned: your friends might be too concerned with stuffing their faces to even notice the game!

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Explore North & South Indian cooking

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Indian food is a staple takeout choice among many Chicago patrons, but how does one decide between the country’s North and South cuisine? The answer: don’t. Bypass the takeout and order up either of these cooking classes to appreciate the complexities and flavors in North and South Indian cuisine. Each class will take you through the oral history of the region’s food as you add numerous recipes to your arsenal. After taking these classes, you’ll be able to reconcile your Indian food cravings—be they from the North or South—in the comfort of your own home.

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Venture into vegetarian cooking

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Chicago born and bred diets are mostly of the meat and potatoes variety, but that’s because many Windy City veterans don’t view vegetarian meals with a grain of salt. See for yourself that vegetarian cooking is much more than bland tofu and celery. Step up your veggie game and learn about the wonders of a vegetarian diet, which is often more affordable and healthier for you anyways. If that hasn’t whet your appetite, then perhaps the option of bringing your own bottle of wine to the class will do the trick.

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Pizza with pizzazz

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For a low-key couple like you and your bf/gf, a laidback date may consist of ordering a pie or two with a six pack of your favorite craft beer. If you’re looking to add some pizzazz to your evenings, spend two hours at this class where you and your better half will learn how to make authentic Chicago Deep Dish pizza for yourselves. From crafting and stretching the dough to learning the recipe for a extra secret sauce (well I guess it’s not that secret), the two of you will be able to relax while making personalized pizzas. Next time, skip the take-out and apply your newfound hands-on skills for any future Friday nights in.

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Just roll with it

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Japanese

Stop and drop your regularly scheduled date plans and take this master sushi roll workshop instead. You’ll practice (and perfect) the art of rolling sushi, learning how to prep rice, use a bamboo rolling mat and deep fry your favourite sushi treats. The menu aims to impress with dishes like spicy tuna rolls, inside-out rolls, shrimp tempura rolls and salmon and eel nigiri. At the end of it all, you’ll be more than ready to roll on home and churn out these dishes for yourself!

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Pairing cocktails with canapes

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After work, your plans are simple: maybe go to the gym, hit up happy hour or turn down for a night of Netflix. Or you could host a casual cocktail party. If mixology is in the mix for you, you’ll want to take this class that helps you master the art of making a stiff drink. Afterwards, you’ll prepare fine gourmet food to pair perfectly with your cocktails. Open a bottle of wine (it’s BYOB!), listen carefully to your teacher’s instructions and unwind after work with a new set of cooking skills. You’ll never serve pigs-in-a-blanket again!

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Cooking Chicken 101

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Poultry

“Tastes like chicken” might mean something new to you once you and your date take this cooking with chicken class. Studying under a professional chef, you and your partner will grill, braise and roast your way through a variety of eats. Learn to cook dishes like orange and soy-glazed chicken with gingery grilled pineapple, Arabian spiced chicken and rice with yogurt sauce and ancho chile-roasted whole chicken with winter squash-hominy hash. No matter what spices and flavors you play with, you can always count on chicken to delight your dinner guests.

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The knife is mightier than the sword—at least in the kitchen

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Safety first, ninja knife skills a close second! This cooking class focuses exclusively on teaching you (and your date) how to how to slice, chop, mince and dice. After two and a half hours of prepping vegetables and herbs, you’ll be chopping like a champion. This class will also teach you how to properly clean and care for your knives to keep you slicing and dicing for years to come.

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Cooking with beer

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Brew

After reading that headline, your mouth is already starting to water, isn’t it? If so, you know you need to take this beer-intensive cooking class where you’ll learn to make from-scratch dishes with your favorite brewskis. Going over a variety of recipes from cuisines all around the world, your instructor will demonstrate the ins and outs of proper culinary techniques, ingredient choices, meat and equipment selection and meal timing when it comes to cooking beef. Try these out at home later where the one-for-me, one-for-the-meal drink rule can be more of a guideline than anything else.

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My big fat 15-minute Greek meal

30 minutes or less is so been there, done that. Can you make a meal in 15 minutes or less? A meal that’s not ramen (more on that later) or order-in Chipotle? With this class, you’ll cook simple and delicious Greek-inspired dishes under the instruction of a Greek culinary specialist. Learn to appreciate the healthy, tasty flavors of the Mediterranean and get hands-on training in the kitchen to prepare several different authentic recipes. In the time it takes to order and deliver food to your house the next time around, you’ll already be halfway through chowing down on some exquisite eats with your significant other.

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Oodles and oodles of Ramen noodles.

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Ramen noodles—once consumed exclusively by cheap eaters and poor college students—are widely becoming a personal culinary challenge for chefs and amateur cooks alike. The question becomes how can they make these low-cost dishes delicious? In this all-levels class, you and your date can transport yourself back to your hungry college days by eating Ramen noodles. This time around, however, you’ll be learning to make Ramen from scratch. After working with miso paste and Japanese flavors, you’ll be ready to munch on the familiar and comforting taste of Ramen noodles—with an upscale twist.

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Cooking with… fruit? Yeah, why not!

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You bake with fruit, you eat it raw, but do you usually cook with it? Probably not, but you can now! With this savory cooking class, you’ll find new ways to incorporate yummy fruit into your meals. Savor and taste the fruity flavors in dishes like skillet chicken with orange brandy sauce or grilled peaches with lemon thyme pork. Classes are small and intimate so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to receive one-on-one instruction as you cook through a fruit-friendly menu. Orange you glad you heard about this class?

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