Bilingual American Cooking Classes in Kioicho

By Sandra Barron
November 4, 2013
Food & Drink

Here’s a savvy tip for enjoying Ema Koeda’s cooking class at Cook Coop: don’t go too hungry. When she asks you to taste the seasoned goat cheese before she bakes it into a spinach-stuffed chicken breast, you’ll be pained to stop at one bite. You’ll want to eat the cubes of bread brushed with spiced olive oil before they get a chance to become croutons. The chunks of fresh persimmon Ema peels will taunt you, and the smell of the fresh caramel she cooks up for the cake will be almost too much to bear.

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Ema teaches New American Kitchen cooking classes at the newly relocated Cook Coop Book near Yotsuya Station. The storefront is a specialty cookbook shop combined with a spacious professional cooking studio. The bookstore has a large selection of mouthwatering cookbooks in English and Japanese, perfect for browsing before class begins or grabbing to take home along with a cup of coffee after class.

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The lunchtime classes are taught in English and Japanese, and Ema switches between the two languages smoothly and effortlessly. She lived in Napa in California for a few years, and now she wants to spread the joy of good, fresh California cooking to Japan. “Japanese people have an image of American food as being pizza, hot dogs and huge servings of meat,” she says. “I want to show them that new American food is about fresh vegetables and fruits, seasonal ingredients, and a combination of flavors and textures.”

Classes are available now as individual drop-in lessons (¥4,200, but due to increase to ¥6,500 from January), and there will also be economical packs of five starting in January. Each class starts with a brisk, thorough demonstration of the preparation of an appetizer, an entree, a side and a dessert, and then breaks into groups. Since each group works mainly on just one dish, it makes sense to take the series of classes if you’d like to be sure to try your hand at making each part of the meal.

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When the food goes in the oven, the wine comes out. Ema is passionate about Napa wines, and she explains how the wine she’s chosen marries with the day’s food while everyone sips. She described the Honig Vineyard Winery Sauvignon Blanc that she chose to go with the chicken and savory mushroom bread pudding as a “perfect afternoon wine.”

Once everything is plated and served, more wine is poured, and the class sits down around a big table. Even if you weren’t hungry to start with, you will certainly be ready to dig into the meal by this time—but hold on for one more moment; Ema likes to give tips on making the food look even more appealing. In this case, that means waiting your turn to pour an artistic drizzle of olive oil over the golden chicken. Once it’s picture-perfect, all that patience pays off at last in a healthy, decadent lunch and friendly conversation.

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Other classes include the 50-minute Quick Lunch class (¥1,500), taught in Japanese, and the Farmer Chef’s Kitchen (¥7,500)—a course that celebrates cooking with locally sourced, fresh vegetables. Bring an apron, a pen and, if you like, a camera. Cook Coop has separate food photography classes coming up, too, to maximize your friends’ Instagram envy.

The Deets

Address: 4-5 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-3264-3230

Open: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sat, Sun & hols 11 a.m.–7 p.m.

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