Express Your Inner Chef

Classes and interactive culinary adventures in Palm Springs

Lori Cohen-Sanford Restaurants 0 Comments


If food tops your list of things to experience in Palm Springs, you may be looking for cooking classes to find your inner chef.

In addition to the impressive array of restaurants in the area, foodies may also delight in some other offerings on the gustatory gamut. If your idea of leisure-time includes sniffing spices, ogling olive oils, or learning some new cooking moves in the kitchen, tighten your apron strings and prepare your palate.

Palm Springs Culinary Checklist

Copley’s Restaurant has firmly established itself in the lower end of the burgeoning Uptown Design District of Palm Springs. The outdoor courtyard and patio offer up-close views of the local mountains and it is this setting that makes Happy Hour Cooking Classes so popular with guests. Chef/Owner Andrew Copley hosts the monthly Happy Hour Classes, charming with his South African accent and easy-going manner as he demonstrates dishes designed to “give people confidence to make a really nice dish that they might prepare for a dinner party.” Chef Andrew also designs the class format to fit within one hour, so that people can “get a good part of information in one hour. The secret is making things fun.” Classes run from 5:30-6:45p.m. and cost $35. Guests are invited to make reservations and join for dinner following the class

621 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262. 760-327-9555,

photo by lori cohen-sanford

Olive Oil Tasting is one stop on a Culinary Tour through Palm Springs with Desert Tasty Tours.

Desert Tasty Tours, run by Kristy Kneiding, are part-food, part-history, part-shopping and art walking tours of downtown Palm Springs or El Paseo in Palm Desert. Guided tours stop at 6 to 7 locations between the hours of 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and are offered Monday through Saturday. Explore historical landmarks in downtown Palm Springs or shopping and art in Palm Desert as you enjoy tasting at featured restaurants and foodie specialty shops. In Palm Springs, become educated about olive oils as you learn about the founding members and historic landmarks of Palm Springs. In Palm Desert, stop for a sweet treat and a wine tasting between art galleries and upscale shops.


photo courtesy of balisage bistro

“Cooking with the Chef” places guests elbow-to-elbow making dinner with Chef Daniel Villanueva at Balisage Bistro.

Balisage Bistro is not on the radar of most tourists (and is still a secret to many locals) due to its surreptitious location near the Palm Springs Air Museum, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Chef Daniel Villanueva built a steady clientele as a private chef and caterer to clients who own private planes and flew in and out of the Palm Springs International Airport. The small space lends itself to private events and monthly wine dinners, and “Cooking with the Chef” events have become popular with food enthusiasts looking for a personal connection to the chef who prepares their meals. Cooking with the Chef can accommodate up to 15 guests, who all have their own cutting/prep stations and portable burners and other equipment necessary to prepare one course from the evening’s menu. Cook with Chef Daniel twice monthly on Tuesday evenings from 6-8:45 p.m. and priced at $75.

145 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, 760-406-4565,

photo courtesy of le vallauris

Fine Dining Cooking instruction and lunch at Le Vallauris.

Le Vallauris Restaurant in Palm Springs has been a long-celebrated part of Palm Springs fine dining as a historic location and its culinary tradition firmly tied to classic French cuisine. If you have always wanted to watch a classically-trained French chef in action, join Executive Chef Jean Paul Lair and Pastry Chef Laurent Dellac for an interactive culinary experience designed for discriminating palates. Cooking Classes are held on the beautiful patio on the second Monday of each month from January through April from 10:30 a.m . to noon. Classes include a prix fixe, four-part lunch menu priced at $59 (excluding tax/tip).

385 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, 760-325-5059,

East Valley Venues

photo by lori cohen-sanford

Mary Cardas, owner of Savory Spice Shop in Palm Desert, offers up a wide variety of exotic spices and pantry provisions to inspire customers to try something new in their kitchens.

Savory Spice Shop in Palm Desert offers a different type of culinary experience, and owner, Mary Cardas, “wants to help customers explore different ways to use spices.” Weekly Spice 101 tours of the shop are offered for groups wanting to explore and learn about the variety of products available. Cardas and her staff “share fun facts as customers taste and ask questions to become more comfortable” with the dizzying array of spices and blends in the store. Guest chefs are also scheduled on a monthly basis to offer cooking demonstrations featuring recipes and cuisine using particular spices. A regular class featuring Chef Lori from Nourishfoods is offered Sunday evenings twice a month. Private classes and tours can also be scheduled evenings after regular store hours.

73-399 El Paseo #103, Palm Desert, 760-346-4372,

Photo courtesy of Cooking with Class

Andie Hubka and Jane Angwin are the Daughter-Mother duo behind Cooking with Class in La Quinta.

Cooking with Class in La Quinta is the “first and only school to offer cooking classes” in Greater Palm Springs run by the daughter-mother duo of Executive Chef Andie Hubka and Jane Angwin. The school staffs a rotating group of chef instructors and a Sommelier. Classes hold up to 20 attendees and vary in structure and pricing ($55 to $100) to include demonstration, workshop/hands-on, and private classes/events. Popular offerings include a monthly wine-food paired dinner, couples classes, Thai, Chinese, Latin/Mexican and specialty classes geared for home cooks.

47875 Caleo Bay Drive, La Quinta, 760-777-1161,

Photo Courtesy of Kitchen Kitchen

Chef Gavin Grabe offers a wide array of fun formats at Kitchen Kitchen in Indian Wells.

Kitchen Kitchen in Indian Wells is owned by Jan Boydstun, and has been operating as a supplier for specialty cookware and kitchen supplies since 1979. The current location has a fully-equipped kitchen and has expanded its class and private event offerings to include daily classes. Resident Chef, Gavin Grabe, teaches a majority of classes with guest chefs who rotate through on a monthly basis. Formats vary from one-hour “how-to” demonstrations focused on a single recipe or technique to more elaborate meals, lasting 2-3 hours (pricing varies accordingly $29 to $69). One of the more popular classes is a weekly themed dinner class where Chef Gavin dresses up and invites attendees to do the same as he cooks a four-course dinner. Upcoming class themes include Venice, South Africa and Morocco.

74-945 Hwy 111, Indian Wells, 888-919-1466,

Lori Cohen-Sanford is a private/personal chef, cooking class instructor and owner of Nourishfoods Organic Meal Services — Tastes Around Town will appear weekly. Follow her on Twitter @nourishfoodsps.

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