Sharpening your skills

Opportunities for discovery this fall

Back to school doesn’t just mean a return to the classroom: Autumn brings plenty of opportunities for learning in the kitchen, the garden, or maybe even on stage.

Looking to spice up your culinary repertoire? Take a dumpling- or noodle-making class with Mei Mei, where owner Irene Li just won a coveted James Beard Leadership Award for culinary innovation. Meet like-minded cooks for a public class or reserve a virtual or in-person private session for up to 12 budding chefs, with the option to add cookbooks, your favorite cocktails, and more (www.meimeidumplings.com).

For variety, you can’t beat Boston Public Market, whose many local farmers and vendors share expertise with shoppers. Discuss coffee with bean-master George Howell; create bagels with Bagel Guild; or enjoy a demo and tasting at Pine Bar, the market’s first cocktail counter, new from the team behind North End mainstays Ducali Pizzeria and Ristorante Lucia (www.bostonpublicmarket.org).


Photograph courtesy of @BoardsByMo

Sophisticated chefs should browse the technique-driven offerings at Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, which offers live or self-paced classes on everything from knife skills to vinegars (www.177milkstreet.com). Cooking with kids? Try a class at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (www.cambridgeculinary.com), where chefs as young as 8 can learn the nuances of Asian cuisines, bake pies, or experiment with holiday-themed doughnuts. Or, for a corporate team event, book a group workshop with Boards By Mo (www.boardsbymo.com), where you’ll learn to compose (then eat) the ideal charcuterie plate.

Prefer to raise a glass instead? Visit the cocktail conjurers at The Boston Shaker (www.thebostonshaker.com), where the classes are as interesting as the sleek barware. Learn when to shake and when to stir, which tools you need for a proper bar, the finer points of garnishes, and more. Oenophiles, meanwhile, should register at Boston Wine School (www.bostonwineschool.com), which offers local courses and even educational trips to European vineyards.

If you love plants, take a class with Native Plant Trust (www.nativeplanttrust.org), whose course list spans horticulture, botany, and design, with the option to earn specialized certifications along the way. The Massachusetts Horticultural Society (www.masshort.org) is more eclectic: Learn about unusual houseplants, dive into the Japanese art of ikebana, or flower arranging, or just visit their “emergency room” with a struggling plant for a quick revival session.


Photograph courtesy of Jordan Takvorian

If you’d rather appreciate nature from afar, head to a Trustees of Reservations property (www.thetrustees.org) for meditation classes at Concord’s Old Manse, facilitated drum circles at Harvard’s Fruitlands (known for spectacular fall foliage), or even a songwriting workshop with Dar Williams at the same gorgeous spot.

The Boston Ballet also hosts many on-point classes—literally—for dancers with a range of skill levels, with discounts for seniors and students (www.bostonballet.org). At the Museum of Fine Arts, the catalogue is as diverse as the exhibits: Explore color theory, oil painting, fashion drawing, and even weaving, with separate programs for kids and teens (www.mfa.org). For a hands-on experience, learn pottery with the friendly makers at Mudflat (www.mudflat.org). If your eyes are beginning to glaze over at work, consider glazing there instead: Team-building sessions for colleagues are a popular option. Last but not least, programming through the Office for the Arts at Harvard (ofa.fas.harvard.edu) provides opportunities in dance, ceramics, theater, music, and much more—enhanced by a host of visiting artists.  

Read more articles by: Kara Baskin

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