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As long-time “foodies” and home cooks, we have attended cooking classes around the world. Most lasted a few hours or so and were demonstration-oriented, rather than hands-on. While we learned lots of techniques, they didn’t completely translate when it came to cooking at home.

This past spring, after reading about the Culinary Institute of America and their classes called “Culinary Boot Camp,” we went for it.

Our five days at the institute’s Hyde Park campus were in “Advanced Training.” The boot camp starts at 6 a.m. Monday, then 7 a.m. the rest of the week. On the first morning, we received two full chef’s uniforms (including the traditional houndstooth pants, formal chef’s jackets, and a tall white toque) and a three-ring binder packed with information.

Chef instructor John DeShetler immediately dispelled any concerns about a “boot camp” experience involving yelling or push-ups. Telling us to call him “Chef D,” he said, “We’re here to learn and to have fun. Gourmet cooking is cooking good quality food well. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated.”

Chef D then ran through the week’s schedule: Each day had a similar format, with classroom time lasting through mid-morning, three to four hours in the kitchen preparing recipes (our lunch), more classroom time in the afternoon (with topics like wine, foie gras, and caviar — including abundant samples), and dinner in a different on-campus restaurant each night.

Talk about some tasty research!  Learn more about our Boot Camp experience in our recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution