Cooking classes were fun to take as a kid because they made you seem more grown-up. Also, it was a really good excuse to make a mess in the kitchen and let the adults clean up after you. What with the proliferation of online recipes, how to cook videos on Youtube, recipe apps and food channels, it seems almost futile to go to a physical cooking class unless you're training to be a chef.
However, in the last couple of months, I've attended two classes physically and realised that there is so much more you can learn in person. I'm not advocating that you do all your learning in physical classes. I'm merely suggesting that it can prove to be a great learning experience, and here are a couple of reasons:
You can learn a new cuisine
This one is pretty self-explanatory. There are a lot of cuisine based cooking classes nowadays so you can take your pick. I went to a Mediterranean Street food class at Jenius Social one evening after work and whilst I didn't know the basics of Mediterranean cuisine, there were a couple of dishes that I learned to make including hummus, greek aubergine salad, greek koftas, tortilla and portuguese stuffed squid. While I still can't do other dishes, I have learnt enough that I can serve a 'mediterranean inspired meal' at home. I also learnt the difference of koftas vs normal meatballs, and that there are fine vs coarse hummus. It's pretty simple really but someone just needs to point it out to you.
Cooking the koftas
Figure out faster ways of preparing things
I have never ever tried to prepare squid in my life, and I learnt the fast and easy way to prepare it during my evening at Jenius Social. I also learned how to properly cut up an onion during the session and have used this technique at home ever since. Sometimes, you just need a pro to point out how to do things faster. You can probably improve on a lot of preparation techniques but unless you're physically there, they can't see what you're doing and tell you that there's a faster way.
Discover that something was easier/harder than you thought
The thing with longer cooking classes that span for 2 hours or more is that you usually make a couple of dishes. I went to a cooking class hosted by Friends of Glass with Bridget Colvin and Cherry Healey and discovered that pesto was incredibly easy to make when you have a hand blender. However, I was also surprised that caramel was literally just sugar and water, and when I tried my hand at it, it was actually hard to not boil it and spoil it. That said, I never previously even thought of learning how to make pesto or caramel from scratch. I also learnt that pot pie had a lot of preparation to go with it, and I don't think I'll actually try it at home.
Nervously smiling while trying to get the caramel right
Learn a different way of presenting your dishes
When you finish your dish, sometimes your teacher will present it in an interesting way. I never thought of using glass dishes for pot pie for example. However, I am now inclined to bake some things in glass jars (minus the rubber if you don't want your oven to explode) for an alternative way of presenting things. Also, did you ever think of presenting hot chocolate with marshmallows in a glass jar?
Pot pie in glass jar
Pick up random useful techniques
So I know that you can obviously pick this up on cooking articles, apps and videos. However, there is nothing like being physically there to observe how the teacher does it. For example, I have had trouble always telling when some things are cooked already or not, and it just helps to get that instant feedback when I'm cooking. I also almost burnt my caramel had I not asked for the teacher to check up on how I was doing.
So there you have it, a couple more reasons that you can justify spending on a cooking class. Just make sure that you check how long the class is, who the teachers are, if you'll get hands-on experience and how big the class size is. The bigger the class size, the more fun but less detail you'll get. I personally prefer a smaller class size, which does mean that I'll be put on the spot a lot, but that's okay cause I do go to these to learn and brush up my techniques.