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Benedict Jenks

Japanese cooking courses

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I am thinking about travelling to Japan for two to three weeks of cooking lessons this October. I'm between jobs hence the short notice and short time window. I'm likely to start a new job at some stage in November and want to take the opportunity to have some fun. I do nmot speak Japanese.

I would like to focus on technique, rather than learning how to produce dinner party menus and I am prepared to work hard. I am an enthusiastic largely self taught amateur cook and would like to learn the proper methods and techniques. I originally posted on the adventures in eating board and it was suggested that I try the Japan board.

As far as location is concerned, I am fairly flexible - it's the course and surroundings that are important not proximity to shopping. I had thought that Kyoto might be nice!

any thoughts?

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If you speak Japanese, you have much better chances of finding something.

Cooking classes in Japan are hard to get into on such notice and are rarely offered for such a short period of time. A friend of mine is starting some classes this Octtober but she registered for them way back in June. The "good" ones usually have a pretty hefty entrance fee. For her baking class 4 times a month (total of 2 months) she had to pay $300 for an entrance fee, plus $150 a month. She also had to buy all of her own equipment, 2 sets of stainless steel bowls in 3 sizes, plus other misc items.

I will look a little more, but i keep coming up with places in the US and Europe for the Japanese people to go to!


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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The famed Tsuji Academy in Japan is offering correspondence classes, starting in October and lasting for one year.

Every month you will recieve 2 videos and one text and need to send back reports, there is an optional 5 day/ 30 hour hands on class. All for \12,000 (about $100) a month, you will not receive "chef" qualifications but it is geared specifically to working women and housewives.

In Japanese only

http://www.tsuji.ac.jp/tsushin/pc/index.htm


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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hi there

does anyone know if there is a japanese equivalent of cordon bleu cookery school? I know there is a sushi academy in america somewhere.

but i would one day (when i can afford it) like to learn how to make sushi properly and other japanese food naturally :)

also do they accept non japanese speaking students?

:smile:


"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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Does anyone have any information concerning Japanese culinary schools in Japan? I'm not interested in becoming a chef, but very interested in learning all the basics of Japanese cooking. Have you personally attended any culinary school in Japan or do you know of anyone who have and their experience? Thanks so much.

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Does anyone know if these schools teach in english?

I'm looking in to Tokyo Cookery Academy and the Yukio Hattori school.


Edited by 718 (log)

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Does anyone know if these schools teach in english?

I'm looking in to Tokyo Cookery Academy and the Yukio Hattori school.

Here is the English page of the Tokyo Cooking Academy it lists as one of its requirements for foreign students as "An Ability to study in the Japanese language", so I am assuming that the classes aren't in English.

http://www.shokuryo.ac.jp/cookeryT/english/index.html

The Hattori School of Nutrition:

http://www.hattori.ac.jp/index.html

doesn't have any information in English and skimming the Japanese parts I can't find any reference to classes in English...


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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The famed Tsuji Academy in Japan is offering correspondence classes, starting in October and lasting for one year.

Every month you will recieve 2 videos and one text and need to send back reports, there is an optional 5 day/ 30 hour hands on class. All for \12,000 (about $100) a month, you will not receive "chef" qualifications but it is geared specifically to working women and housewives.

In Japanese only

http://www.tsuji.ac.jp/tsushin/pc/index.htm

This may have been metioned elsewhere, but this course (I'm pretty sure it's this course) is now being offered in English. I saw ads for it last November, though I don't know how long it has been out. You can find it at Essential Japanese Cooking. It's not a correspondence course, though. You get videos and a text but you don't send them in anywhere. It's not cheap--$600, but might be good for visual learners who don't speak Japanese and/or cannot afford to attend the institute in Japan.

FWIW, I attend the abc Cooking School. Everything is in Japanese, but the branch I go to has some English speaking teachers who help me out when I'm lost.

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Oh Rona, I'm so glad you are taking this class. I'm going to throw a bunch of questions at you. :shock: Which class are you taking; do you enjoy it; cons and pro; how often do you go; how are the instructors?

Several years ago I was seriously considering enrolling into Tsuji at some point after I quit working and looked into their program. It's not cheap, but sounded very interesting. Besides Tsuji, I have read about the school you are attending and wondered how it was. Their cakes look very nice and I need help in presentation aspect of cakes for sure.

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Oh Rona, I'm so glad you are taking this class.  I'm going to throw a bunch of questions at you.  :shock: Which class are you taking; do you enjoy it; cons and pro; how often do you go; how are the instructors? 

Several years ago I was seriously considering enrolling into Tsuji at some point after I quit working and looked into their program.  It's not cheap, but sounded very interesting.  Besides Tsuji, I have read about the school you are attending and wondered how it was.  Their cakes look very nice and I need help in presentation aspect of cakes for sure.

Hi there, Nona! I'm taking the breads and cakes courses. I love them both. Generally, I would say that Tsuji is probably geared towards more serious cooks, whereas abc is geared towards housewives. Many if not most of the people at the school are housewives, or housewives-to-be. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I've learned quite a lot about baking since I started (just two bread classes and two cake classes, to date, plus three demonstration classes), and I was already a not-so-bad baker to begin with. But they certainly aren't hard-core. They don't expect your baking to be perfect or for you to learn all the stages of caramelization by sight. They just want you to enjoy yourself.

One thing I like about abc is that they do most things by hand. We use hand mixers for beating egg whites and such, but for breads we knead entirely by hand. I've finally learned how to knead sticky, wet doughs, and how to shape those little balls of dough. The teachers also have various teaching points--for example why you have to add egg to butter very slowly, and why you shouldn't let the beaters touch the bottom of the bowl when whipping egg whites. Things I never realized were important or understood all make sense now.

One thing I don't like about abc is that you have to follow a prescribed order of classes. For both bread and cake courses, there are three levels before you can take the masters course. In cakes, for example, one must take A course (pate brisee, pate sucre, pound cake, genoise, some kind of mousse cake, and financier). Then you can move onto B course (which includes chiffon cake). When you finish that, you can take C course, and then finally the Masters course. I would much prefer to take whatever cakes I want to learn to make. However, I understand why they do it that way--they want to make sure you have the proper techniques down before moving on (plus they want to make more money). The Masters course, however, is where all the really interesting cakes are.

I also don't like that, for the bread classes, they rely on fast rises. They use proofing boxes set at 40C, and I think they use quite a lot of yeast in each recipe. I find my breads taste very yeasty. But they do this because of the 2-hour limit for each class. You could easily adapt the recipes for longer rises and less yeast once you start making them at home.

As for the teachers, they are all very helpful and more importantly (for me) very patient. I can't understand a lot of what goes on, but they take extra time to repeat things to me or to show me first-hand. Your Japanese is quite fluent, though, so you won't have that problem :biggrin: . Most (or maybe all) of the teachers have also gone through the courses themselves, so they probably have an idea of how students want to be taught, and they teach accordingly. Most of the teachers are not expert chefs/bakers, but there are two or three higher level teachers around to help out when needed. There are also a maximum of 5 students per teacher, so you get a lot of attention (I get more than others, generally, since I don't understand a lot).

Another good thing about the courses is that you can take them at your own pace. The cakes course consists of 6 cakes, and the course must be finished within 8 months. They offer two different cakes/month so the earliest you can finish the course is within 3 months. When you take a cake class, you have one teacher with all the students (maximum 5) making the same cake. So we all follow the teachers instructions, but we can also get help from each other if needed. With the bread course, there are 7 breads and you have I think 9 months to finish. With the breads you can finish whenever you want. Each of the 5 students assigned to one teacher may be making a different bread, so you have a little less quality time with her, but you have more flexibility as to when you take a class.

With the classes, you can take as many as you want in one day (within certain limits), one week, or one month. Or you can skip a month, if you want. You just have to make sure you finish all the classes within your time period. When I went to my cake class a couple of weeks ago, the other classmate with my teacher took the next cake class in the timeslot after our class. So she took one class at 6, and another at 8. This weekend I'll be doing the same with breads--one class at 6 and another at 8. I'll probably be finished the A bread course by the end of March, and I just started at the end of January. You can even take a bread class and a cake class back-to-back if you want. So far, since I started at the end of January, I've gone to an average of two classes/week, but next week I probably won't take any. The only problem with classes is that some teachers' slots fill up very quickly. With only 5 students/teacher, premium time-slots are difficult to get. It's very easy to register for slots, though. They have computers at the reception desk, or you can register for them on-line (that's what I usually do).

I haven't taken any of the cooking courses, but I'm tempted. The cooking courses are more expensive, but I like the options. They offer three menus/month and you can take all three, or none at all. Often one will be a quick menu, one will be Japanese or other Asian, and one will be more Western. The quick menus are designed by the instructors, themselves, and I think that's a great idea. But if you register for just 12 classes, they cost about Y4800/class plus the entrance fee (for evening/weekend classes, the day classes have different prices). I thought that was a bit too much for me, especially if I continue with the cakes and breads.

Oh...cost. I find it to be a little expensive, but not horribly so. For the A cake and bread courses, plus entrance fee, I paid Y86, 400. If I had registered for A and B courses, or A, B, and C courses at the same time, I would have gotten a discount. They provide all the ingredients and they use real butter. They also pre-measure almost everything (the exception is for the bread classes--you do all your own weighing, scooping) so it's a big time-saver. You only have two hours/class, so you need to save time wherever you can.

If you are interested in the classes, when you're in Japan, and if you have time, you can drop into any of the abc schools (there are plenty) and sign up for a sample class. That's how I ended up at the school (my mother and I were shopping, she saw the school, walked in, and started asking questions--in English!--and she signed us up for a demonstration class). And I just signed on for another year beyond my two-year contract, so if you take the course before 2007, you're welcome to stay at my place! It's definitely big enough for two!

If you'd like to see what I've done so far, I have pictures up on webshots. I don't have the latest ones up, but I'll get them up by the end of the week, probably.

I'm not sure if I answered all your questions, but feel free to ask again, or for clarification. I am very much enjoying myself--I think I've become addicted to these cooking classes--I just want to take more and more!


Edited by prasantrin (log)

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Rona, thank you so much for this detailed information. This is the most information I ever read anywhere and sounds so interesting. You are living my dream! I will defintely check out their school in June. I may even drag my 22 YO nephew who will be traveling with us since he is becoming quite interested in cooking himself.

Their cost sounds reasonable especially since they provide all the ingredients. I worked for a while as a chef assistant in my free time at our local "gourmet store" cooking school and they normally charged anywhere between $65-$150 per night depending on who the chef/instructor was leading the course.

Although I enjoy baking, my efforts have been hit or miss. I think I do better with breads than desserts. I'm usually in awe by all the beautiful presentations found at Japanese bakeries in general.

It's so kind of you to offer your place. I really appreciate this. It will still be 2 years away before I can do all those things I always wanted to do but couldn't for various reasons.

I really enjoy all the pictures you have up. They look wonderful!

Thank you again.

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Thank you, Prasantrin, for the wonderfully informative post. It wasn't even directed at me, but I'm really tempted to sign up. I have a few questions:

What is the entrance fee (sorry if you already wrote than and I missed it)?

Can you go to any branch, or do you have to stick to the one you signed up at?

Do you bring home the stuff you make, or eat it together in class?

Thank you.


My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Thank you, Prasantrin, for the wonderfully informative post. It wasn't even directed at me, but I'm really tempted to sign up. I have a few questions:

What is the entrance fee (sorry if you already wrote than and I missed it)?

Can you go to any branch, or do you have to stick to the one you signed up at?

Do you bring home the stuff you make, or eat it together in class?

Thank you.

Haven't quite figured out how to reply between quoted material, so I'll just tack my answers onto the end...

The entrance fee is Y12600 (I have the pamphlet in front of me, which is why I can be so precise :smile: ).

From what I understand, you have to stick to one branch, though it doesn't have to be the branch you signed up at. For example, I signed up at the Namba branch (Osaka), but I could have chosen to go to the Umeda branch (also Osaka, but closer to where I live).

For breads and cakes, you bring your stuff home with you. They even give you cake boxes or those little bags for individual cookies. They also provide you with plastic bags to take your breads home. As for the cooking courses, you have to eat what you make at the school.

Also, I got some of the information wrong. The number of classes/course, the prices, and the time limits are as follows:

Bread

A 7 classes Y28 350 (6 month max)

B 7 classes Y31 500 ( " )

C 12 Classes Y57 750 (12 month max)

Masters Y87 150 (I'm not sure if it's 6 or 12 classes) (18 month max)

Cakes

A 6 classes Y39 900 ( 8 month max)

B 6 classes Y45 150 ( " )

C 6 classes Y54 600 ( " )

Masters 12 classes Y130 200 (18 month max)

Cooking--I forgot to mention that there is also an ingredients charge of Y800/class for cooking

3 times in one month Y9 975

12 times Y41 580 (1 year max)

24 times Y79 380 (2 year max)

48 times Y151 200 (4 year max)

I think these are the prices for all the centers, but I know in Japan for some chains (especially eikaiwa places), they'll have different prices depending on the location. They offer discounts if you sign up for A B and C classes for breads or cakes, I think. You can also pay by installments.

I also forgot to mention that you have to bring your own slippers, apron, and hand towel (and a kitchen towel for bread classes) to each class. It's a big pain in the butt. But you also get free samples sometimes. A couple of weeks ago I got two containers of fiber supplement (one per class) and today I got two cans of beer (one per class) :biggrin: . Free stuff is always fun!

I strongly recommend taking the sample class! Even if you don't join, it's a lot of fun. You actually get two--the first one is usually sponge cake, then you can choose for your second (either pear tarts, cafe au lait bread, or hamburger steak). You only get the second one if you're seriously interested in taking a course, though. But if you join, maybe you can help me translate some of the notes :biggrin: .

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I strongly recommend taking the sample class!  Even if you don't join, it's a lot of fun.  You actually get two--the first one is usually sponge cake, then you can choose for your second (either pear tarts, cafe au lait bread, or hamburger steak).  You only get the second one if you're seriously interested in taking a course, though.  But if you join, maybe you can help me translate some of the notes  :biggrin: .

prasantrin- Great info, Thanks alot! How much is the sample class?

My sister is also in Osaka (works near Namba Station), and I would love if she got interested in learning how to cook/bake. Her Japanese is not so great either, but you say that the teachers have been very patient with you, so it sounds like a good place for her to learn some cooking and maybe make some friends too. Maybe I can at least convince her to try out the sample class (maybe even when I come to visit her in March, I can go with her).

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prasantrin- Great info, Thanks alot!  How much is the sample class? 

I'm not 100% sure, but from what I can read (limited) the sample classes are usually Y800/person. If you attend a sample class with a current student, it's free. That being said, my mother and I did not pay for our first sample class (the second one is always free) so I don't know if they enforce the charge.

If your sister is interested in taking a cooking class, she should be aware that the Namba school does not offer cooking classes--just breads and cakes. However, the Shinsaibashi school (one stop from Namba on the subway, or a short walk) does.

If you and are sister are interested in doing a sample class, I'd be happy to arrange a sample class for you (and even attend with you if you don't want to pay the fee). The teacher who does those classes is incredibly friendly. She does the class in Japanese, but she speaks relatively fluent English so you can can still ask her questions in English. If your sister doesn't really cook at all, it might be best to take their basic sample class (very easy sponge cake), but if she's a little more experienced, I have some sample class coupons to which I can invite people to attend with me. There are a couple of bread classes and a couple of cake classes to choose from.

Feel free to pm me if you're interested!

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If you and are sister are interested in doing a sample class, I'd be happy to arrange a sample class for you (and even attend with you if you don't want to pay the fee).  The teacher who does those classes is incredibly friendly.  She does the class in Japanese, but she speaks relatively fluent English so you can can still ask her questions in English.  If your sister doesn't really cook at all, it might be best to take their basic sample class (very easy sponge cake), but if she's a little more experienced, I have some sample class coupons to which I can invite people to attend with me.  There are a couple of bread classes and a couple of cake classes to choose from. 

Feel free to pm me if you're interested!

Prasantrin, Thanks so much for your offer! I don't think my sister is interested though, although Im still going to try convincing her :sad: .

Ill be in Osaka in two weeks, so I'll PM you if she changes her mind!!!!

Over the past few months my sister has become interested in Cooking.... now shes thinking of taking a cooking class to learn more, and maybe make some friends :biggrin:

Besides ABC, what other cooking schools are there in Osaka that she could consider?

Prasantrin, are you still taking classes at ABC? How is it going?

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Over the past few months my sister has become interested in Cooking.... now shes thinking of taking a cooking class to learn more, and maybe make some friends :biggrin:

Besides ABC, what other cooking schools are there in Osaka that she could consider?

Is she very fluent in Japanese? If she is, I know of the Tsuji Cooking Academy--the one affiliated with Shizuo Tsuji, author of Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. They have an open house coming up, so she could drop in to check it out. I think they expect proficiency in Japanese from their students, but I've seen specialty travel tours from the US that go there for cooking classes. Generally, their classes are more for people who are serious about cooking (wannabe chefs/bakers) but from what I can tell, they also have courses for the more leisurely cook.

There's also Le Cordon Bleu but it's in Kobe, not Osaka. Again, one should be proficient in Japanese to attend that school.

I know there's at least one other large cooking school in the Osaka area, but I can't seem to find it on-line. I remember reading that foreigners had to take a Japanese proficiency test to attend, though.

Prasantrin, are you still taking classes at ABC?  How is it going?

I finished Cakes A, B, and C but I also registered for Cakes Challenge (easy desserts one can give as gifts), so I have 5 classes left of those. I also finished Breads A and B, and have 7 classes left in C course. I haven't been to a class since June, but once I get back to Japan, I'm going to limit myself to two classes per month. I was getting pretty worn out going to 2 or 3 classes a week. That was my choice, though, as I wanted to finish as many as possible before I left for holidays. I might register for some extra bread courses (called "Riche Club) but I really only want to learn to make yeast Belgian Waffles and bagels, the other breads in those courses don't really interest me. But I'll wait until I'm almost finished my other classes to decide.

If your sister wants, I'd be happy to take her to a demo class at ABC when I get back to Japan. I like taking people to the Namba school, since Imai-sensei is there. She's so sweet! Plus I just like going to Namba Parks...

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In Kyoto, there is a woman who teaches cooking classes out of her home to very small groups of people or in one-on-one sessions (I was the only one there when I took the class). She teaches you how to make basic, traditional Kansai foods, and her lesson is different in each session, which probably has a lot to do with the importance of seasonal ingredients. I didn't make anything too exciting (mostly vegetables, rice, and tofu), but the class provided me with an idea of what essentials I should have around my kitchen for doing my own Japanese cooking. If memory serves, it took about two hours and it was only 3000 yen. It was fun!

She also gives good advice on where to eat and what to do in Kyoto, and she directed me to an awesome noodle/nabe shop that I never would have found on my own.

Her name is Mariko and she is very sweet and helpful. Oh, and she does speak English, but if you know a little Japanese you'll have more fun. Here is her info - scroll down to "Japanese Cuisine Classes."

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Well I've been back in the states for almost a year now after my 3-year stint in beautiful Okinawa. I've been developing a Kushiyaki/Yakitori concept for development here in the states and I have most of the plan laid out. The concept will feature cooking over bincho, Jidori Chicken and utilizing specialty salts and sauces either from Japan or of Japanese origin. While my background is the Restaurant/Culinary business, the missing ingredient is actual training time in a yakitori concept in Japan. While there is the obvious benefit of this training to perfect needed skills for operational efficiency, the marketing angle can't be overlooked as well which brings me to my question. Does anyone know of a culinary school that may feature a course on Yakitori or even better would be to volunteer to work as an apprentice in an actual Yakitori restaurant to "learn the ropes". Any help or advice would be as always greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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