Atlantic City is one of those places that most everyone associates with gambling and not much else. With the recent negative news this past year of the multiple casino closings many have been wondering if AC was on the verge of closing shop. Let me tell you this as a person who has and continues to enjoy an occasional weekend getaway to the area this is furthest from the truth. One of the problems and misconceptions that the general public has is that there is not much else to do in Atlantic City other than sitting in front of a slot machine or a blackjack table. If you can’t find something else to do here you’re not looking hard enough! There are many things to do in this town for couples and groups alike. One fun activity would be taking a cooking class at the Viking Cooking School located at the Harrahs Resort and Casino. It’s actually a terrific way to spend an afternoon, and a great way to spend some quality time with your significant other, or friends and family that you are in town with. If you’re looking to brush up on your cooking skills, or a company performing team building exercises, then check out a class here. My gal and I had walked by the cooking school many times and always wondered what it would be like. Well, we finally had the chance to put on our aprons and get in front of the stove as part of a media junket invited to experience what Atlantic City has to offer.
You know what? We had a blast!
As our group walked up to the Viking Cooking School we had a few minutes to check out the retail store offering all types of cookware products, cutlery, electrics, and accessories. There is a lot here to choose from, and if you have a self professed amateur chef or pro gourmand loved one at home who loves to wow with their culinary delights this place is a perfect spot to pick up a cooking gift. Oh, be sure to also check out their wine selection with many affordable bottles and vintages with many right from the New Jersey area.
The facility itself is super clean and well maintained. It offers a hands on experience for the novice chef like myself that can barely cook Shake ‘N Bake, to the experienced grill master who knows their way around a kitchen. They offer many types of classes here weekly with different themes so there is something to be found for everyone’s palate. Jump in on a class and learn some Latin inspired eats, make some Italiano, be carnivorous with some steaks and chops, go down South for some soul food, or head to France for a dinner party. Oui! Oui! What’s great is that you get to sit down with your class in a nicely appointed dining room and enjoy the delicious meal you just prepared from scratch. There is just something so satisfying being able to actually enyoy the fruits of your labor with a delectable bottle of wine. Nom Nom Nom! Check out their monthly schedule for a listing of available classes with the link below. Ours was called “Latin Sizzle”. Latino Heeeat!
I had never taken a cooking class before so this was something I was looking forwward to. As we walked in and took our spots at the prep stations we were greeted by chef Richard Younger. Right away we knew this gentleman meant business! He was both intimidating and nurturing at the same time. Kind of like the scary drill seargent, fire breathing pastor, or some girl’s shotgun cleaning dad that you just met before taking her out on a date all rolled into one. Yet, he was also very funny, interesting, and amazingly organized. Heck, the man’s career was incredibly impressive as he worked for many years as an executive chef for Steve Wynn himself. Whoa! Legend.
To start off Chef Richard offered each of us a raspberry mojito cocktail to welcome us into his class. Now that’s what I call a proper start! He led us through each step. Prep work, how to properly hold and use a knife, setting up and cleaning the work areas, picking the correct food items and ingredients, and much more. He kept a close eye on us, demonstrated use of the tools and techniques, offered one on one help, and had no problem calling us out when we were screwing up. Hey, safey first, and he was a stickler for that. Even if it was embarrassing at times. Yeah, I goofed up a bunch. Now drop and give me twenty!
In the end we all perfectly prepared a pretty amazing meal! I was quite impressed with our cheffery! On the menu this afternoon was a tortilla soup, marinated steak with chimichurri sauce, fish tacos with a peach salsa, seasoned potatoes, and a mixed green salad with a light dressing. All made with the freshest of ingredients. Bottles of red and white wine were also included. Chef Younger came in and answered any questions we had, offered some fun insights on the biz, and even signed our cooking aprons. Dude is a star. As a bonus a dessert of dulce de leche ice cream with caramel sauce presented in a cocktail glass topped off this wonderful cooking class soirée. It was such an enjoyable way to spend three hours (11am – 2pm) in Atlantic City without any gambling involved at all. With most classes in the $99 range it’s a more worthwhile way to drop a Benjamin than losing it in a slot machine. Plus, you get to fill your belly and learn a few kitchen tricks along the way. That’s a jackpot in my book!
Better watch out Bobby Flay. I’m coming for you!
Wolfgang Puck! I’m gonna flatten your meatballs!
Morimoto! My cuisine will reign supreme!
( Disclaimer – my fiancee and I were invited for a Fall Getaway media weekend in Atlantic City courtesy of DOAC, and even though this was included as part of the itinerary, it in no way influenced my thoughts, feelings, or review of the experience. I highly recommend giving a class a try! )
Viking Cooking School – http://www.harrahsresort.com/things-to-do/viking-cooking-school.html#.VGlqEfnF888
Harrah’s Atlantic City – http://www.harrahsresort.com/
DO AC – http://www.atlanticcitynj.com/