Every town has a distinctive dish. Here are three suggestions for honing your culinary skills while on vacation
All over America dining out is getting better as chefs celebrate their locally produced foods with tried-and-true recipes, as well as with adventurous takes on old favorites. We’re so excited about good food that we want to get in on the preparation. One way to learn about a city’s culinary traditions is to take a cooking class (or two) while visiting.
Here are cooking classes offered in three cities within driving distance of Kansas City—St. Paul, Tulsa and Denver. Not only will you have pleasant memories of your stay in another city, but you might also have a few more dinner menu options upon your return. Bon appétit!
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Cooks of Crocus Hill
For 43 years, locally owned Cooks of Crocus Hill has been the center of operations for many home and professional cooks in the Twin Cities. Besides purveying more than 6,000 culinary-related items at its three locations, the Cooks of Crocus Hill’s instructional program is considered one of the best in the Midwest.
There’s quite a breadth to the Cooks of Crocus Hill course offerings under headings such as baking and confections, date night, eat well and be well, ethnic and regional, libations and seasonal, to name a few.
Multiple chef-taught classes are scheduled nearly every day during August. Private one-on-one instruction is also available.
As a matter of fact, the school’s street, Grand Avenue, is one of St. Paul’s most diverse and beautiful shopping destinations, boasting an eclectic and inviting atmosphere, with wide, tree-lined streets, patio dining and cozy coffee shops. During the day, it’s a relaxed and quaint shopping and services destination. In the evening, Grand Avenue transforms into one of the best places for nightlife in the Midwest.
The area features locally owned shops such as Kowalski’s Grand Market for fresh and gourmet foods, Atelier 957 for unique clothing and accessories and Bibelot for clothing, home accents, stationery and many delightful items.
Where Else to Dine in St. Paul
Joan’s in the Park
The seasonal menu changes frequently featuring prime steaks and fresh seafood.
The Red Cow
For a gourmet burger, come here. Locally sourced, grass-fed beef is always on the menu. Casual for families and lively enough for millennials.
St. Paul Grill
Long one of St. Paul’s “special occasion” restaurants, the management makes it special for everyone. The dinner menu includes prime steaks, thick-cut chops, fresh fish and seafood.
Where to Stay
Cathedral Hill Bed & Breakfast
This 1896 Victorian mansion in the historic district of St. Paul combines pure comfort and true elegance. Rooms from $169/night.
A perfect location in the heart of downtown that’s walkable to many attractions. Modern elegance and historic charm are combined here. Rooms from $129/night.
The Saint Paul Hotel
Old-school grandeur meets 21st-century needs in one of the country’s top-ranked hotels. Rooms from $189/night.
The Girl Can Cook
In Tulsa, homegrown chef Candace Conley has developed a real following with her Cooking Without a Parachute cookbook, a collection of favorite recipes and the basis of her on-line cooking course. But there’s no substitute for being in the same kitchen as your instructor. She comes from a long line of talented home cooks and has developed her self-taught culinary style over the last 30 years. August courses available at The Girl Can Cook include “Hawaiian Luau,” “Grilled Pizza and Flatbreads,” “Summer’s Hottest Couple–Tomato and Basil,” and “Pasta 101.” You might hone your grilling techniques with some of Conley’s pointers on Oklahoma’s favorite cooking method.
The Girl Can Cook classes include two hours of hands-on training at Conley’s instructional kitchen.
Utica Square is a centrally located shopping center in Tulsa, known for its beautiful setting and upscale shopping, offering a combination of upscale well-known stores such as Restoration Hardware, Coach, Sak’s Fifth Avenue and Anthropologie, as well as popular independently owned shops such as Margo’s and Stonehorse Market.
Standing alone as a major fashion purveyor, The Dainty Hooligan Boutique could exceed your fashion cravings with 2,500 sq. ft. of display space. A very large accessory selection is on hand.
Where Else to Dine in Tulsa
Burn Co. BBQ
This place will hold up under the most critical K.C. “Q” inspection. The meat is the ticket and considered by many as the best in Tulsa.
A venerable white tablecloth restaurant in downtown Tulsa with real staying power—very cozy and very good. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Juniper Third Street Bistro
New American cuisine of primarily locally sourced ingredients. Try the carrot soup and one of the signature craft cocktails.
Where to Stay
Sleek downtown hotel in the former city hall building. Great views. Rooms from $121/night.
A 55-room boutique hotel downtown. Convenient to Utica Square shopping. Rooms from $195/night.
The Campbell Hotel
A small 26-room boutique hotel located downtown that includes a luxury spa. Each room is unique and the public spaces are classic. Rooms from $135/night.
Stir is Denver’s popular recreational cooking school open to the public. It provides a variety of cooking classes for everyone—novices to professionals—to tweak their cooking techniques. Classes are two to three hours for a fun hands-on experience. Instructors are professional chefs working side by side with class participants. The class schedule for August includes “Meat 101–Beef, Pork and Chicken,” Aug. 17 and “Tastes from Around the World,” Aug. 25, among others.
In addition to cooking classes, Stir has a small bar area offering signature cocktails, a great wine list and local beer. Yes, Stir offers mixology classes too.
Stir is located in the historic Weir Building in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood.
If you ask a Denver resident where to go shopping, they will likely respond with “Cherry Creek.” The large enclosed Cherry Creek Shopping Center, located five minutes southeast of downtown provides shelter from the weather and is anchored by the heavyweights, Neiman-Marcus and Nordstrom, with many familiar national chains situated in between.
Yet, for a shopping experience that is “uniquely Denver” venture into the Cherry Creek North neighborhood immediately to the north of the mall. For the last 25 years, this 16-block area has grown “organically” and is home to 400 businesses, of which nearly three-quarters are locally owned.
Where Else to Dine in Denver
Home of the tastiest prime rib in Denver with really choice seafood selections as well. This casual restaurant in The Brown Palace Hotel is open for lunch and dinner.
Everyone lines up for breakfast at this local chain that serves excellent offerings for every diet. The breakfast burritos are huge. Breakfast and lunch only.
A classic American bistro where chef Mike Winston prepares simple dishes, delivered with an elegant style. His nightly fare is complemented by a dynamic wine list.
Where to Stay
A very affordable bed-and-breakfast inn located in a Victorian mansion near downtown. Rooms from $129/night.
Hotel Monaco Denver
This Kimpton hotel is convenient to all downtown attractions and offers superlative service. From $409/night.
Hyatt Palace Cherry Creek
Close to shopping and a great value for families with pets. From $170/night.
4150 East Mississippi Ave.