What’s in a name? The newest addition to Montclair’s buzzing food community is called Chef’s Lab, but it sure doesn’t feel like a lab. In fact, the inviting space feels more like downtown-loft-meets-Jamie-Oliver’s-Food-Revolution-kitchen.
When I arrived, a string of enthusiastic hosts greeted me, and I was immediately treated to a personal tour from founder and owner, Henry Thervil. The front retail space has been set up by industrial design students from Montclair State University, and all of the fixtures and furniture are repurposed or from previously used pieces. As Henry walked me through exposed-brick living room, and introduced me to the wide selection of spices, oils, and cooking accessories, he explained that his thinking behind starting Chef’s Lab cooking school was to provide a place for people to learn about cooking on all levels in a comfortable, open environment.
Upon entering the kitchen area, I was happily caught off guard by not one, not two, but three six-burner Viking stoves. While the kitchen is chock full of brand new fixtures and top-of-the-line equipment, the comfort level remains high as guests and students are invited to either explore the room or have a seat at the demonstration counter. I happened to be lucky enough to get a scoop of Chef Cardie Mortimer’s delicious homemade crab dip while I checked out the scene.
I arrived in time for Chef Scott Savokinas’ knife demo, during which I realized that I am The. World’s. Worst. Knife. Owner. Ever. Not only did I benefit from the information about types of knives and their purposes, but I also enjoyed the resulting guacamole.
Throughout the summer, Chef’s Lab will offer a wide variety of classes at all levels. From Knife Skills 101 to Artisan Breads to Fresh Mex (and a ton of options in between), Chef’s Lab is serving up a diverse and approachable range of culinary education. In addition to the course list, Chef’s Lab provides customized sessions by request for private groups and seems open to pretty much anything that qualifies as food, fun, and learning.
Here’s a list of the classes currently offered at Chef’s Lab:
Knife Skills 101
Indian Take-Out Favorites
Essentials of Mexican Cooking
Family Italian for Parents and Kids 10 and Up
Ice Creams, Sorbets, and Granitas
Great Cupcakes for Ages 11-14
Breakfasts & Brunches
Artisan Breads at Home
Baking at Home — The Desserts
A Latin Spring Fling
A Bounty of Breads
Homemade Pasta Workshop
The Zing About Wings
Pies and Tarts Workshop
Date Night: A Dinner to Remember
Date Night: In Sicily
Girls’ Night Out: In Rome
Girls’ Night Out: The Greek Isles
Girls’ Night Out: The Islands
Parisian Dinner Party
Thai Taste Explosions
Teens Designer Cookie Workshop: Fun With Fondant
Teens One-Day Culinary Basics
Pasta Party For Families
My first visit to Chef’s Lab left me feeling inspired and motivated to learn more about food and cooking. Check them out and let us know what you think!
345 Bloomfield Ave.
Rachel Bozek is a freelance writer and editor based in suburban Essex County. She grew up in Bergen County, and has lost track of how much time she’s spent on LBI and in the Wildwoods. Her search for the perfect pancake continues. www.rachelbozek.com