What if you were told that you could learn how to cook in the privacy of your own home and that you could even choose the meal you would be taught to prepare? Jennifer Clair, chef-founder of Home Cooking New York, thought that would be pretty extraordinary. After answering an ad to give in-home cooking lessons, she realized that most people who want to learn to cook are often too intimidated to learn at a professional cooking school. She started Home Cooking New York to teach people how to cook in their own kitchens.
Home Cooking New York offers clients the choice of learning basic cooking skills in a private or group setting and would-be-chefs get to choose exactly what type of foods and cuisines they want to prepare. Whether it is Indian, Chinese, Italian or vegetarian, Jennifer has the skills and resources to take her clients down just about any culinary path they are looking to travel.
Clair began her culinary career after attending college and venturing into a cooking school here in NYC. Not really sold on becoming a chef, she dabbled in food publishing and then worked for the food department at MarthaStewart.com as the Manager of Cooking and Entertaining. She spent the next four years brainstorming with her colleagues on recipes, and eating tons of free food. At the end of those four years the Internet bubble burst and at the time it seemed as though Jennifer’s career did too. However, after answering that simple ad for private cooking lessons her departure from MarthaStewart.com proved to be a blessing in disguise for herself and now, many others.
Since its inception in 2002, Clair and her team at Home Cooking New York have been entering peoples’ homes, providing an unusual but always appreciated gift for that hard to buy friend, hosting parties and teaching cooking skills to would-be home cooks in Beacon, NY and Manhattan. Clair along with four other chefs work together to provide this individually-tailored culinary service. Demand has been so great that what started out as a business providing lessons in a client’s home, has grown to include lessons held in Ms. Claire’s private kitchen in Beacon or at Home Cooking New York’s sparkling, new facility on West 23rd street in Manhattan.
Those taking private lessons choose the menu they wish to cook. Clair gives them a complete shopping list of the food needed to prepare the recipes, which is the client’s responsibility to provide. Working side by side with a chef, the client learns basic prep skills as well as tips on staying organized while cooking a four-course meal. Group classes are structured around a specific region or specific recipe. After each lesson, whether private or group, the client receives a recipe pack and everyone enjoys the meal that is created.
Clair finds the biggest reward in introducing people to new or different foods. In her classes she likes giving people a variety of options instead of teaching them one specific way to make a dish. “I am very passionate about food and enjoy showing everyone the different options that can be had when preparing a meal,” says Clair.
Although business is booming, Clair still finds time to stay in the kitchen. She personally teaches eight private classes and parties a week, in addition to running two schools where the group lessons are held and has no plans to slow down. When asked where she sees the business going, Clair says, “The sky is the limit.”
In addition to private cooking lessons and cooking parties for adults, Home Cooking New York also hosts children’s and teen parties. Each lesson or party is priced accordingly and the pricing sheet can be found on Clair’s website. www.homecookingny.com
Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Shop: Farmers’ markets on the weekends.
Favorite Place to Eat: Prune restaurant
Favorite New York Sight: The Cloisters
Favorite New York Moment: Meeting my husband for the first time in front of a Chelsea gallery opening in the freezing cold. Knew instantly he was the kind of guy I had been looking for all along.
What You Love About New York: The endless opportunities for food adventures.
What You Hate About New York: Noise and distance from nature.