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There are plenty of New Orleans cooking classes that offer instruction in Cajun and Creole cuisine to locals and visitors alike. Now, however, there’s a major new culinary institution in the city.
The New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute (NOCHI, pronounced “no-kee”) opened this year to provide a five-month intensive certificate program for those wanting to enter the culinary industry. In addition, NOCHI also offers enthusiast classes for laypeople wanting to learn a skill, digest culinary history or prepare a particular dish.
All the classes taught in the state-of-the-art kitchen laboratory run the gamut and do not follow one particular cuisine, says Remy Robert, manager of community development for NOCHI.
“We’re a cooking school located in New Orleans, and not a New Orleans cooking school,” Robert said. “We may offer classes on gumbo or a seafood boil, but we also teach fundamental techniques and international cuisine.”
Travelers to New Orleans are welcome and may learn just about anything related to the culinary arts. Since opening in January, NOCHI’s courses for the general public have included Louisiana-focused events such as “The Louisiana Series: Into the Gumbo Pot” with James Beard Award-winning chef Frank Brigsten. On the flip side, Megan Forman, co-owner and head baker of the city’s Gracious Bakery + Cafe, led a class in the fundamentals of quick breads and dough.
NOCHI enthusiast classes are divided into two categories: hands-on lessons limited to 16 people and demonstration classes that cap out at 25. Both are offered at the NOCHI building in the city’s Central Business District — a five-story, 93,000-square-foot historic property located on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line.
“We keep our enthusiast classes small and they are designed for recreational cooks,” Robert said. “The idea is to pick up skills and have fun.”
Hands-on classes start at $130 and feature local chefs who explain a specific dish or subject, then let students break into groups of two to three and cook their own meals. At the end of the three-hour class, students enjoy what they have mastered: a full meal with drink pairings.
Demonstration courses start at $65 and might include a talk, tasting or lesson, or a combination of the three.
“The demonstration classes are definitely up close and personal, and not a lecture-type class,” Robert said.
Recent offerings include “The Louisiana Series: A Seafood Boil for All Seasons,” with native culinary chemist Claude Davis; and “Why Whiskey Matters,” with T. Cole Newton, former president of the New Orleans Chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, and Kristin Estadt, a sommelier and bar manager at Commander’s Palace.
The institute plans to develop more enthusiast courses, Robert says, as well as adding private classes and group events. No word yet on if these custom events will be commissionable to agents.
NOCHI also offers a full cafe on the ground floor, serving hot breakfast, brunch and lunch from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Operated by Gracious Bakery, the cafe features pastries, artisan breads, craft sandwiches and luncheon plates. Craft cocktails, beer and wine are also on the menu at NOCHI Cafe, which includes a happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
NOCHI is chaired by well-known cookbook author and chef Ti Martin, who is also co-proprietor of The Commander’s Family of Restaurants, which includes Commander’s Palace, Picnic Provisions & Whiskey, SoBou and Brennan’s of Houston. In addition, executive director Carol Markowitz brings more than 15 years of industry experience to the institute, as well.
The DetailsNew Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institutewww.nochi.org