School’s In!

The Ultimate School of Barbecue

A callback to his work on the Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ cookbook published in 2015, Pitmaster Chris Prieto offers students an all-encompassing barbecue education with the Ultimate School of Barbecue. Once a quarter, the grand champion pitmaster hosts this 12-hour class at his restaurant, Prime Barbecue in Knightdale. Designed for students with any level of skill, the all-day event goes through every meticulous aspect of the cooking style.

Chris Prieto, a former professional barbecue grand champion, leads September’s Ultimate School of Barbecue at his restaurant, Prime Barbecue.

“We shut the restaurant down, and it’s all live fire cooking, and we cook on all styles of pits. We cook all the different varieties of meats. We teach about pellet cooking, cooking on a Big Green Egg, vertical water cooking, indirect heat cooking. We do a multitude of meats that demonstrate how you can stretch your thinking. So someone gets a lot of value in one class,” Prieto mentions. “If you spend the next month straight watching YouTube videos about barbecue, you will still not learn as much as 8 hours of my class.”

In the restaurant-turned-classroom, students are privy to all the finer details Pitmaster Prieto has gathered over his vast professional barbecue career.

“I want every person to see the cooking process but (more so) the hands-on details of what I look for in that meat,” he says. “A lot of people just teach the cooking process. But I have everyone come outside and push (the meat) where I push, and (have them learn) this is what I feel and know. I want to get (the meat) to this color and feel. All these things have to align.”

Pitmaster Prieto also makes a point to learn about the students enrolled in each class so he can tailor the lessons to their specific needs. Ultimately, Prieto hopes every student leaves with the understanding “that barbecue is more than they assumed it would be. I want them to know that they have the foundational knowledge to be successful. I’m trying to give them the confidence.”

Cocktails & Cuisine

Perched on the rooftop of Glenwood South’s AC Hotel, The Willard gives diners a sky-high lookout over the ever-evolving landscape of downtown Raleigh.

The Willard’s Cocktail and Cuisine class offers students a chance to learn recipes directly from Chef Kyle Teears.

According to Nate Webb, the director of food and beverage at The Willard, “There’s not a design exactly like (The Willard) in any of the AC Hotels in the world. It’s very unique.”

A collaboration with Early Bird Night Owl — the creative team behind other acclaimed eateries such as Peck & Plume at The Mayton in Cary and The Restaurant at The Durham Hotel — The Willard’s concept focuses on skillfully crafted cocktails and chef-driven cuisine.

As the popularity of their panoramic perch grew, guests were looking for more ways to spend time on the captivating rooftop. Heeding the calls from their clientele, The Willard introduced Cocktails and Cuisine classes. Twice a month, the Glenwood South restaurant invites diners to experience a three-course cocktail and food menu focusing on a theme, such as a specific spirit or amore, the Italian word for love. Recipe cards accompany each course with an overview of both the cocktails and the dish.

“The lead mixologist and the executive chef will make themselves available for the attendees of the class. Each course, the chef and mixologist will literally showcase how they are making those courses. It’s kind of like a Q&A session,” mentions Webb.

Ultimately, by augmenting recipe cards with a show-and-tell, the class aims to equip guests with the confidence to recreate the courses at home.

Cooking with Kids

Flour Power Holly Springs manager Morgan Lehman introduces students to utensils they will use.

In 2005, Susan Caldwell turned the experience of cooking at home with her children into Flour Power Cooking Studio. The family-focused business grew into a franchise and opened locations in eight states, including four in Wake County.

Aubrie Heart, 10, measures flour to make pancakes.

Flour Power’s programming offers a chance for children to tap into their natural inclinations to learn and explore.

“Some children have a natural want to cook and bake. Some kids want to try new things,” says Morgan Lehman, manager of Flour Power Holly Springs. “When the kids do things for themselves, it encourages them to try new things and still be interested in cooking.”

Flour Power offers a mellow environment for kids to meet each other, Lehman says. “Weeknight and Saturday classes, as well as our Kid’s Night Out, are also in more relaxed environments, so often, they are socializing while cooking, and it’s just fun for them.”

The cooking studio doesn’t just focus on little ones. Adult Sip & Stir classes cover various themes like curry or lemon treats. Flour emPOWER camps focus on providing teenagers with not just culinary skills but leadership and confidence as well.

“Cooking is a necessary skill, and it’s one that will last a lifetime,” Lehman emphasizes. “Starting young, with classes for kids starting as young as 2 ½, will become fun when you’re an adult with your friends or on a date. And the best part here is we clean up the mess!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *