For the past few months, I've had an unusual number of people mention to me they want to learn how to cook.
Some of them already know the basics but are cutting out meat or carbs. At least a few picked up an Instant Pot or air fryer over the holidays and don’t know where to start.
Others have made a life change — moving in with a significant other, living on their own for the first time, downsizing — and are feeling that desire to make changes in the kitchen as their living arrangements shift. A few friends are just tired of eating the same meals over and over.
Although you can find culinary inspiration and learn some elements of cooking from cookbooks, food television or YouTube videos, many people enjoy the experience of learning firsthand from someone in a space where they can ask questions and maybe even grab a knife and apron to practice those skills with a teacher nearby.
Here is a roundup of where to take cooking classes in Austin and some of the numerous private cooking instructors.
The Black Vegan Company co-founder Robin Beltran’s mission is to help home cooks feel more comfortable cooking without meat or dairy products. Customers choose which dishes they want to learn in the comfort of their own kitchen, but her classes usually start in a grocery store so students can learn the basics of building a plant-based pantry and fridge first. theblackvegancompany.com, 870-316-1162
Kitchen House offers adult and kid cooking classes in a converted house at 1514 Dandridge Drive in Cedar Park, but the instructors can also travel to homes, schools or even churches. In addition to eight-week kids’ cooking camps that take place after school and during the summer months, owner Leah Smith and her team also host food- and cooking-themed birthday parties. kitchenhouseaustin.com, 512-799-8301
Club Homemade classes focus on cooking with seasonal vegetables and minimal (or no) meat. These hands-on (and BYOB) classes take place several times a month in the East Side Culinary Studio space, and guests are asked to bring containers so they can bring home prepped ingredients to make the meal at home later in the week. clubhomemade.net
Kitchen Underground is an online marketplace in Austin, Houston and San Antonio that connects culinary instructors, including popular Austin instructor Maggie Perkins, with home cooks who want to learn new skills, usually in commercial kitchens or private cooking spaces. kitchenunderground.com
Cozy Meal is a national website for finding cooking instructors in your area who either host classes in private spaces (or their own homes) or who are willing to go wherever you'd like to take the class. More than a dozen Austin-area teachers are currently hosting classes through this site, which usually caters to small groups of 2 to 6 people. cozymeal.com
Faraday's Kitchen Store hosts some of the most sought-after cooking and knife skills classes in Austin at its kitchen store at 12918 Shops Parkway in Bee Cave. Faraday’s has been hosting in-store culinary classes since it opened more than a decade ago, and their instructors also teach summer camps for kids. (Frequent instructor Katy Parker also offers private classes and kitchen coaching: chefskitchenconsulting.com.) Classes sell out quickly, so plan ahead. faradayskitchenstore.com, 512-266-5666
Sustainable Food Center has a large teaching kitchen at its headquarters at 2921 E. 17th St., and earlier this year, the nonprofit changed its format. Instead of hosting the classes with its own instructors, SFC now rents out the space to third-party instructors who need a space to host classes, including a half-day yoga and cooking retreat coming up on March 1. sustainablefoodcenter.org, 512-220-1142
Austhentico owners Luis Felez and Sarai Salazar offer Spanish cooking classes at SFC and other locations, including a small local urban farm, where they are hosting an upcoming paella night on Feb. 29. austhentico.com, 512-774-0109
Con ’Olio is an olive oil and vinegar store in Bee Cave and the Arboretum that also hosts cooking classes from local teachers, including Fer Candil, who specializes in Spanish food, and Rachel Zierzow, a fixture in the healthy cooking community who is now offering a video-based online cooking course called Cook Naturally Without A Recipe (learn.cookloveheal.com). conolios.com, 512-342-2344
Central Market Cooking School is one of the longest-running culinary education programs in the Austin area, with in-house instructors and visiting chefs and cookbook authors leading classes on just about every culinary subject imaginable. Some of the classes are hands-on, while others are demonstration only. Almost all of them include wine and food. These classes sell out quickly, especially for weekend dates. centralmarket.com, 512-206-1000
The Naked Bite offers one-time and four-week cooking classes that take place in customers’ homes, but you can also book their instructors for cooking parties and bachelorette parties. thenakedbite.com, 512-501-4394
Sur La Table, a big name in kitchenware, has an Austin location at the Domain, and in that store, instructors host classes nearly every day of the month, sometimes twice a day. Most of the classes are hands-on, and they are usually focused on a specific cuisine or type of dish. 11800 Domain Blvd., 512-873-7149
Williams Sonoma has two locations in Austin — one at Barton Creek Square Mall and the other at the Arboretum — and each store hosts occasional cooking classes that cover the basics of certain cuisines and techniques. williams-sonoma.com, 512-328-5220
Make It Sweet offers Austin's widest selection of baking and pastry classes, including bagels, kolaches and English muffins, as well as cake and cookie decorating. The classes are taught by store owner Jennifer Bartos or someone else from her staff, and they take place in a teaching space adjacent to the baking store at 9070 Research Blvd. makeitsweet.com, 512-371-3401
Over The Top Cake Supplies sells specialty baking supplies in Round Rock at 1208 North Interstate 35, and the store also hosts lots of classes, many of which are BYOB. overthetopcakesupplies.com, 512-814-0267
Foodie Kids, a kid-focused cooking and baking store at 3818 Far West Blvd., specializes in kids' cooking classes, especially during the summer, spring break and after school. They also host birthday parties in the store and have expanded to hosting off-site classes. foodie-kids.com, 512-346-3333
Pasta Social Club is Meryl Feinstein’s answer to "How do I make friends in a new city while also learning how to make pasta?" She hosts pasta-making classes that are meant to help people make new connections and learn how to make specialty pastas, including ravioli, farfalle, pappardelli and rigatoni. pastasocialclub.com
Beeline Market, a kitchen space at 1510 W. 35th Street, hosts cooking classes for both kids and adults, including an upcoming class on how to make king cakes. The company also sells prepared kids’ meals and has a slate of kids’ summer cooking classes available. beelinefoods.com
East Austin Culinary Studio is a rentable kitchen demonstration space at 2100 Robert Browning St. in the Mueller development that hosts team-building and private classes, but public class listings are coming soon, says owner Amanda Darby. eastaustinculinarystudio.com, 737-203-0885
Shef’s Kitchen owner Shefaly Ravula has taught cooking classes around the city, and she’s now focusing on private classes for small groups and families. These classes can include grocery store tours, kitchen coaching and menu planning with a focus on healthy eating. shefskitchen.com
Confituras Little Kitchen, the jam-and-biscuit shop at 2129 Goodrich Ave. in South Austin, hosts several classes a month, ranging from knife skills and biscuit-baking to charcuterie and homemade pasta. confituras.net, 512-710-9370
Thai Fresh owner Jam Sanitchat has been hosting Thai cooking classes in her South Austin restaurant for more than a decade, and those classes continue a few times a month at 909 W. Mary St. thai-fresh.com, 512-494-6436
Quality Seafood Market, the longtime seafood market at 5621 Airport Blvd., offers occasional classes on fish, oysters and seafood-based dishes, and you can also book a cooking party or private class there, too. qualityseafoodmarket.com, 512-452-3820