Love cooking, but can't seem to turn out an appealing -- or edible -- meal? Whether it's a problem with overcooking, undercooking, forgotten ingredients, an inability to master the use of a kitchen appliance, or a tendency to lose track of even the simplest recipe instructions, we at Clean Plate Charlie offer a potential solution: Publix.
No, we're not suggesting a pre-cooked meal or prepared dish from the deli -- but an actual cooking class held at one of the area's two Publix Aprons Cooking Schools. Although the Aprons program began several years ago, not much has been written about the grocery chain's South Florida schools -- one in Boca Raton and another in Plantation -- where customers and nearby residents can enroll in classes that teach you everything from how to sharpen your knife skills to mastering a holiday feast.
The Publix Aprons Cooking Schools, which include six additional locations throughout Florida, are designed to give customers a second kitchen where they can learn, practice, and have fun. Classes typically last 2 to 3 hours, and are meant to be enjoyed as much as they are geared toward learning a new skill or mastering a creative dish. Each classroom is located in a separate building from the main grocery store, and features a full kitchen and prep area with room to accommodate up to 20 participants, as well as a retail space that offers everything from spatulas and strainers, to specialty cookware and cookie cutters.
Currently, Aprons offers three types of classes that range in price: demonstration classes that allow you to sit back, relax, and watch the pros create your meal; hands-on classes that give students the opportunity to master a skill while working under the instructor; and kid or teen classes that give children 8 to 12 years of age a chance to learn the fundamentals of cooking.
Every month, the Aprons Cooking School schedule changes to include a variety of cuisines. Classes often highlight national or popular trends, and are designed to welcome anyone on the "foodie" food chain, from the cooking novice and kids, to experienced home chefs looking to up their game.
The Boca Raton Aprons is led by chef Rey De La Osa, who comes from The Four Seasons Hotel in Miami. In 2008, Rey began working with the prepared foods department at Publix Greenwise Market in Boca Raton, and today is leader of the store's cooking school. He enjoys cooking traditional Latin recipes emblematic of his cultural heritage while working alongside assistant chef Anthony LoGerfo, owner of A Bite To Eat in Pompano Beach, a restaurant and cafe that caters to the local business community and residents.
In Plantation, chef Wes Bonner heads the kitchen program at the store's Apron school. Bonner graduated summa cum laude from Johnson and Wales University in North Miami, was a member of the silver key honor society, and has more than nine years in the culinary field through various restaurants and the hotel industry, including the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove, a five-star, five-diamond establishment. In early 2009 Bonner joined the Publix Aprons Simple Meals program while pursuing an education degree, and later combined his love for teaching and cooking with the Publix Aprons Cooking School. Bonner works alongside Ray Braynen, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts who has experience with the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Club Med Worldwide Resorts, and Walt Disney World.
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