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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cook Up A Storm

For MT
Check out your local bookstore and you'll see that publishers have begun picking up on a cooking trend. You can buy the newly translated books of television's Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver. British stalwart Delia Smith, who has taught generations of Brits to cook, is also on sale, along with a number of neophyte Russian celebrity chefs, such as Stalik Khankishiev and his book on Central Asian cooking mysteries.

But if you really want to learn and not just stare and drool at the cookbook pictures, then lessons may be the way to get yourself up to speed in the kitchen.

Accademia del Gusto is one school that puts you in close proximity to top Moscow chefs. On the fourth floor above the bar Help on 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya Ulitsa, it has a smart, clean interior with 16 kitchen stoves for students. The school also runs corporate evenings at which executives cook in culinary competitions, and others where expat wives compare tiramisus.

The school runs a variety of lessons on Italian cuisine, from basic beginner level to more advanced courses. There are also more specialized courses in Italian desserts as well as courses for children. Lessons, which can be in English or Russian, last up to four hours and end with students eating the food they have helped produce with the chef.

"It is not for chefs but for those who like cooking," said Italian chef Mirco Caldino, whose main job is at the restaurant Noa.

The first lesson in a recent beginners' course was a quick run through of the basics -- such as adding butter to your olive oil, taking the fried shrimps off the heat to cook in a closed frying pan on their own -- and three hours later ended up in a meal of pumpkin soup with tiger shrimps, pasta arrabbiata, veal steaks with porcini mushrooms and orange marmalade tart.

The course is informal, and flirtatious Caldino manages to put the students at ease.

"Don't go to the toilets afterwards, it's dangerous," he said, smiling as he broke up two dry chili peppers and rubbed them into the tomato sauce for the pasta, "or give any compliments to your wife."

Natalya Nechayeva / For MT
Italian chef Mirco Caldino sharing his knowledge in an Accademia del Gusto class.
Gusto has five chefs teaching at the school, four Italians and one Russian. The Italians are from some of the best Italian restaurants in Moscow, including a chef at Settebello, Valentino ­Bontempi. "It is a friendly situation," Caldino said. "We want people to be able to relax, but we still have a high professional level."

Students get an apron and a printed handout with the recipes for that lesson to take home. With so many different chefs, the recipes at De Gusto's classes differ from those on the handout. Caldino used potatoes instead of leeks in his pumpkin soup. "You can try at home and see which one you like better," Caldino said.

"I am going to try out the dishes and see how it goes," said American Michael Mertz, 43, a financial consultant who found the school after seeing a sign for it at Help.

Professional chefs do not come cheap, and the price of one lesson is a hefty 6,000 rubles (about $230). A course usually lasts 10 lessons. Students are welcome to help themselves to a complimentary glass or three of Italian wine during the lesson.

27 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya,

960-1114, M. Belorusskaya,

The magazine Gastronom has a culinary school called Vkusnaya Zhizn that runs a series of courses all year round, from Easter desserts to Italian and Russian cooking. Courses cost from 1,300 to 4,000 rubles. Enthusiastic students can get a yearlong pass to all the courses for the ruble equivalent of $2,500. Gastronom courses are intended both for good family cooks and professionals.

2 Volokolamskoye Shosse, Bldg 1, 725-1070, M. Sokol,

City Class runs evening lessons that allow you to you dip into a subject rather than study it over a long period. It has regular courses in numerous cuisines including, The Secrets of Italian Cuisine, which is three hours for 1,250 rubles. A lesson in Thai cuisine costs the same, while Sushi costs 1,450 rubles. More unusually, you can also study Orthodox cooking based on recipes from Greek monasteries.

See for lesson times.

Tsentr Sovershennoi Lichnosti -- which could be translated as the Center for Perfect Personality -- offers one-off courses in sushi, including how to prepare it as well as a history of this relative newcomer to the traditional cuisine of post-Soviet Russia. The four-hour lesson costs 5,700 rubles. The center also offers a more comprehensive course in French cuisine, four hours a day for three days, costing 15,300 rubles. If you aim for perfect personal perfection, you can also have one-on-one tuition -- 56,610 rubles for the French course and 25,310 for the Japanese course.

1 Leninsky Prospekt, office 907,

959-9250, M. Oktyabrskaya,

The International Academy of Gastronomy offers various five-day courses including lessons in such cuisines as Italian, French, Japanese and Mediterranean. Designed for experienced cooks, they cost 350 to 450 euros.

Aka-te has one- and two-day courses in the art of making Japan's most famous food export. A one-day sushi course costs 4,500 rubles, and two days 7,800 rubles. There is also a daylong course in Japanese deserts costing 3,000 rubles.

1 Bolshoi Kazyonny Per., 917-0728, M. Kurskaya,