This weekend, fire up your love with a cooking class! Whether you prefer to jump into the action, or sit back as a certified chef shows you the ropes, a Publix Aprons cooking class is a great date night option if you want to try something new, savor a delectable multi-course meal, and let the endorphins flow.
Last week I enjoyed a four-course meal, complete with wine pairings and entertainment, at the Winter Park Aprons Cooking School. As I surveyed the demonstration kitchen, welcome glass of rosé in hand, I felt both excited and nervous. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the experience. By the second course, I was already raising my glass and exclaiming how much fun I was having. It turns out, cooking classes at the Publix Aprons Cooking School are perfect for anyone who likes to have a little fun and learn something new. First dates, anniversary dates, girls' nights, you name it.
Publix Aprons Cooking Class Types + Locations
Publix offers two basic types of cooking classes. Go for a hands-on class if you prefer to be in the center of the action, chopping and sautéing alongside Publix chefs.
For a true date night experience, check out the Couples Cooking classes offered several nights a month. Enjoy an intimate hands-on cooking experience as you work side-by-side with your date to create a mouth-watering meal, and see where your creativity leads you. Couples Cooking classes start at $100 per couple. Classes follow fun themes like Flavors of Hawaii, Late Summer Cookout, and City of Oaxaca.
If dinner and a show are more your style, you won't want to miss the highly entertaining demonstration style courses. Wine is served with most evening cooking courses.
There are two Publix Aprons Cooking Schools in the Orlando area: one in Dr. Phillips, and one in Winter Park. The schools have identical course lineups, so if the class you want is sold out, try booking it at the other location! Classes typically start at $50 per person.
As a fun bonus, Aprons students also receive 20% off of any kitchen tools from the Aprons shopping center. After my class, I picked up a ceramic grill pan for easy weeknight grilling.
Ready to give it a go? Choose your closest cooking school and browse all upcoming classes here.
Choosing a Cooking Class
I try new recipes at home on a weekly basis, and am very much a hands-on kind of girl. I was surprised to find myself drawn to several of the demonstration-style courses, in which I imagined I would be an observer rather than an active participant. After all, who could resist “Wine Country Get Away,” with its four-course menu and wine pairings inspired by a journey through wine country? Not me. I love relaxing date nights, especially when there's wine involved, so why not let someone else do the cooking?
Still, in the days leading up to my cooking class, I started to second guess my decision. What if the demonstration turned out to be a serious cooking seminar, topped off with a couple of sample-sized bites and a thimbleful of wine? In my worst-case scenario, I imagined a few rows of rigid chairs filled with people very seriously swirling their wine and declaring it “slightly more tannic than the '59,” a la Midnight in Paris. But wine country was calling, and I must go.
It turns out, I needn't have worried.
Setting the Mood
The Winter Park Publix Aprons Cooking School is comprised of two full demonstration kitchens. I arrived to find the primary kitchen had been transformed to look like a chic little restaurant, with twelve or so private tables facing an impressive kitchen setup. Three unobtrusive television screens overhead provided a unique birds eye view of the prep and cooking surfaces, making it easier to catch the chefs' knifework later on in the evening. Each table was draped in white linens and set with silverware, two types of wine glasses, and the evening's menu.
In the secondary kitchen, we spotted chefs preparing the dessert course, which the menu revealed to be a citrus olive oil cake. The setup was perfect for engaging with the chefs in a group setting, while still allowing for more intimate conversation within private tables.
Chefs led my date and I to our reserved table and immediately served our first pour of the evening, a welcome glass of Fleur de Mer Cotes de Provence. The menu on the table listed all four courses, including wine pairings, as well as detailed recipes for anyone looking to recreate the evening's dishes at home. A lively mix of couples, girlfriends, and a full-on girls' night outing filled the other tables as we waited for class to begin.
What's on the Menu?
The Wine Country Get Away course I attended was inspired by a journey through wine country. It featured simple, delicious ingredients like lemon, burrata, and basil. Each course was complemented by an expert wine pairing designed to elevate those simple flavors and create a meal to remember. Here is our menu for the evening. It gives a great idea of what you can expect from a Publix Aprons Cooking School demonstration-style course.
Welcome: Fleur de Mer Cotes de Provence
First Course: Lemon Infused Burrata Insalata
Pairing: Tribute Chardonnay
Second Course: Marinated Seafood Misto & Avocado Salad
Pairing: Hess Chardonnay Alomi Napa
Third Course: Herb Rub Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak, Spicy Chimichurri, Grilled Asparagus, and Garlic Potato
Pairing: Substance Cs Cabernet Sauvignon
Fourth Course: Citrus Olive Oil Cake
Pairing: Santa Margherita Chianti Classico
Class is in Session
I was worried that a demonstration style course might be dry and boring. Instead, I found myself enjoying dinner and a show. A really fun, surprisingly informative, wine-fueled show with several intermissions to eat, drink, and relax.
Our class was led by three Publix Aprons chefs, Rey, Craig, and G (Gerald). They brought a great blend of knowledge, grace, and humor to a class that got a little wilder with each wine pairing. A different chef demonstrated how to cook each course, Cooking Network style, in the main kitchen, answering questions and making little jokes along the way. In the secondary kitchen, the other two chefs worked seamlessly to plate our food and open fresh bottles of wine.
At the end of each demonstration, we received a full serving of the dish in question, along with a generous wine pairing designed to bring out the fresh flavors used in the recipe. Chef Rey talked about each wine, describing its maker and flavor profile. He also shared some more general wine tasting tips that I found helpful as a bit of a wine novice. We had about 5-10 minutes to enjoy each course, and then tables were cleared and the next demonstration began.
The structure of the class was absolutely perfect for date night. The demonstrations were engaging, and I learned several new things that I can incorporate at home. I learned exactly how burrata differs from regular old mozzarella cheese, for example. I also found out that I've apparently been zesting lemons the wrong way for years.
The frequent class breaks allowed space to savor each course, sample some wine, and talk and laugh with my date. The structure encouraged easy conversation between courses.
Dinner is Served
The cooking demonstrations were enjoyable, but what about the food? After all, I opted out of hands-on cooking classes specifically to try the Wine Country Get Away menu. Was it worth it?
I Got to Try a Wider Variety of Dishes
For one thing, I got to try dishes that couldn't possibly be cooked in a short hands-on cooking class. The marinated seafood misto, for example, involved chopping, blending, grilling, deveining shrimp, and more. After everything was prepped, the ingredients needed to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. The garlic potatoes took 45 minutes to cook. The olive oil cake took an hour to cook and another hour to cool. You get the picture. I loved that I could try such a wide variety of delicious dishes in one sitting, without stressing over getting everything cooked in a tight time frame.
Everything was Delicious
Almost everything we ate was phenomenal. The lemon infused burrata had such a light, creamy flavor that was perfectly complemented by a lemon-dijon emulsion. The chef's choice to serve chardonnay, as opposed to the sauvignon blanc listed on the menu, was inspired. As one fellow classmate said, “it's like serving butter with butter.” The seafood misto was light and tender, and the hot peppers were a fun, flavorful addition to this dish. The seafood misto, if you're curious, was made up of cooked red shrimp, squid, hot peppers, and green onions. It was then tossed in a red wine vinegar-based dressing and served with avocado over butter lettuce. The skirt steak was melt-in-your-mouth tender, served with a delightful fresh chimichurri sauce and a rich cabernet sauvignon. The olive oil cake was moist and delicious, but a little too simple for my tastes.
The Wine Gave a Date Night Feel From Start to Finish
Finally, I enjoyed trying a variety of wine with my dishes. I typically reach for white wine or rosé, so it was fun to try something new. The cabernet was fantastic with the skirt steak, and the only way the chianti could be better was if it was served with some fava beans.
One of the best parts about the demonstration-style classes, in my opinion, is that you can sip wine throughout the evening. In a hands-on cooking class, the drinks are not served until the end of class, when you actually sit down to eat the meal you've prepared.
I absolutely loved date night at the Publix Aprons demonstration-style cooking class. This is such a great alternative to traditional hands-on cooking classes for those who want to improve their kitchen skills in a fun, no-mess environment. So grab a drink, sit back, and prepare for an evening of fun when you sign up for your Publix Aprons cooking class.
Ready to give it a go? Choose your closest cooking school and browse all upcoming classes here.
All images by Beth Bell unless otherwise noted