The kitchen at Schola (1005 N. Charles St.,  714-7516, scholacooks.com) is a home cook’s dream: Multiples of every kitchen tool imaginable hang neatly on the walls, with large Mason jars filled with spices lined on shelves and two KitchenAid stand mixers, one pale yellow and one baby blue, sitting on a countertop. There are ovens and free-standing induction cooktops and stacks of plates and a collection of beautiful cookbooks—everything one could ever need to learn how to cook, which is the goal at Schola, an amateur cooking school that chefs Amy von Lange and Jerry Pellegrino opened in June 2015.
Von Lange and Pellegrino both worked in restaurants for years before opening up Schola: von Lange previously worked as the executive chef at Admiral Fell Inn, while Pellegrino, who co-hosts the show “Radio Kitchen” on WYPR, had been the executive chef at now-closed Corks and at Waterfront Kitchen (page 56). But restaurants are “80 hours a week, 24/7, it gets tiring,” von Lange said. “I just wanted to do something a little bit different and this is a really fun concept.” The wide variety of classes also gives the chefs the chance to create many different foods, from homemade pastas to Chinese takeout to Thai dishes—“stuff that we never got to do in the industry,” von Lange said.
Several other cooking schools in Baltimore offer classes on a similar range of cuisines. The Chef Like Me Collective ( 492-9538, cheflikemecollective.com), which also has catering and personal chef services, holds classes in Little Italy that cover kitchen basics as well as classes covering specific cuisines including Cajun/Creole, French, Italian, Spanish, and Mexican. (Von Lange said the regional classes at Schola are “very popular.”) The Baltimore Chef Shop in Hampden (807 W. 36th St.,  869-5121, baltimorechefshop.com), which, like Schola, opened last year, teaches classes on different cuisines, as well as various brunch classes, baking classes, canning classes, and more. If you’re willing to take a road trip out of the city, you can learn about Nigerian and West African cuisines in the classes at Calbra Classics (758 S. Arbory Lane, Laurel,  460-4640, calbraclassics.com). And it’s not just dedicated cooking schools that offer classes: Pierpoint Restaurant (page 52) has been hosting a wide variety of cooking classes for years, and Pellegrino still holds cooking classes at Waterfront Kitchen. If there’s a kitchen technique or a particular cuisine you want to learn, chances are, there’s a class somewhere in Baltimore for it.
Most of these classes are hands-on, with the chefs helping you to make a meal that you get to enjoy at the end of the class. At Schola’s The Art of Making Sauces ($49), Pellegrino and von Lange warned the small group that this wasn’t quite as hands-on as other classes, but Pellegrino still had everyone involved in the cooking process, instructing attendees to whisk or chop vegetables as he explained the different types of sauces and the basic science behind a proper sauce. Attendees crowded around, some with glasses of wine in hand (Schola, like several cooking schools, is BYOB), as Pellegrino discussed proper techniques while slowly adding oil to a food processor for parsley mayonnaise. After he walked the class through the proper way to make six different sauces, he and von Lange served up a beautiful lunch: roasted rockfish, drizzled with a beurre blanc sauce; poached eggs and ham coated with hollandaise sauce; and a greens salad, tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette that attendees had whisked together not a half-hour earlier. As everyone ate happily, von Lange and Pellegrino hung out and answered any food-related questions people had, from what sort of classes they had scheduled next month to the best places in the city to buy various types of meat. And the next day, everyone received an email with recipes for all the sauces, so you could relax and focus on the cooking, instead of taking notes, during the class.
For anyone who isn’t sure about whether a cooking class is for them, von Lange advises, “Please don’t be intimidated. We have everybody, people that maybe don’t know how to boil water to people who are really skilled in the kitchen and just want to learn more and hone their techniques.” And a wide range of people frequently attend the classes—“individuals, couples, groups, it really varies,” she said—so anyone should feel welcome to step into the cozy, well-stocked kitchens around town that are ready to teach you how to cook.