Cast Iron Cooking at Aurora Cooks!

As part of our invitation to check out the fabulous and historic Inns of Aurora, we got the opportunity to attend their new cooking demonstration classes called Aurora Cooks! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name). When asked which class we wanted to attend, I jumped at the chance to learn cast iron cooking- we are total fans of the method and could definitely be using our pans more.

As part of our invitation to check out the fabulous and historic Inns of Aurora, we got the opportunity to participate in their new cooking demonstration classes called Aurora Cooks! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name). When asked which class we wanted to attend, I jumped at the chance to learn cast iron cooking- we are total fans of the method and could definitely be using our pans more.

If you’re in Aurora, this is a fantastic way to spend an evening. It’s the perfect combination of entertainment, education, and deliciousness.

About Aurora Cooks!

Aurora Cooks! began as a way to share the talents of the culinary staff, a place to showcase all the amazing things they were doing in the kitchen, but it also provides guests to the area with some happy hour entertainment. Aurora Cooks! takes place in a small building that was once the soda shop in the 1920s and more recently was a bakery and café.

Now, the bright white kitchen takes up the majority of the space, with a large countertop taking up the bulk of the room for up to 16 guests to enjoy watching the chef. Big screen TVs give everyone a great view of the cooking, so every seat in the house is a good one (though I suggest getting a spot right in front so you can see everything).

While the space is being used for these cooking demonstrations, you can also book it for private events, like a dinner or tutorial.

Aurora Cooks! Cast-Iron Cooking Class

When we walked through the door, we were greeted by Grace, the incredible hostess for the evening, who was setting out cheese plates and pouring sparkling wine for everyone (Anna Cordoniu Blanc de Blanc, a lovely yeasty, almond and green apple bubbly). Since we arrived a little early, we were able to chat with Chef Patrick a little and learn more about the classes and building.

Once all of the guests had arrived, the class officially began with a toast and a brief introduction to what we’d be learning for the night starting with a primer on cast iron pans. We specifically wanted to take this class because we love cast iron, but definitely aren’t using our pans as much as we could. We learned so much about how to properly clean and season pans (bake with oil for a half hour), what types of cooking worked best in the pans and what to avoid (high acid dishes), and how to make a few dishes.

For this class, we learned and got to taste three different dishes: a black pepper spiced steak, roasted root vegetables, and monkey bread (oh my the monkey bread). It was fun getting to see the techniques up close and learn the secrets- we had no idea that you’re supposed to wait to add pepper to a steak until after its cooked; if you add it before cooking it will burn and its flavor is altered.

Throughout the demonstration, you can enjoy either a white or red wine (we had the option of an Italian Pinot Grigio or a Julia James Pinot Noir which I enjoyed- it was a lovely strawberry, leather, cigar box with a hint of raspberry), or you can have beer. When we were there they had a selection of fun local beers, including an interesting IPA and saison.

After an hour and a half of entertainment and education, we got to sample the final dishes, and they were incredible. That monkey bread was amazing- we are totally going to try to recreate it as a fun weekend brunch dish, and the root vegetables were delicious.

Overall, it was an incredibly fun evening- Patrick and Grace are so knowledgeable and entertaining, we loved every second of it.

Attending Aurora Cooks!

Hours: The classes are hosted throughout the week and have different themes. Check out the schedule to see what’s coming up.

Price: This varies by class, with some costing around $45 a person to $95 whether they are a smaller tasting or a longer demonstration. Some of them also have discounts for people who are guests at the Inns of Aurora (which I’d highly suggest doing)

The price includes small plates (not a meal) or tastes, and unlimited wine or beer, but make sure to check out the details of the class you’re interested in. The class is not a meal, so make sure you either have a snack beforehand or make dinner plans after- we finished up our night with drinks and apps at the 1833 Kitchen and Bar (try the salmon mousse, it’s divine).

Final Thoughts

This is the most fun cooking demonstration I’ve ever been to- it wasn’t a dry lecture or lesson, but rather an entertaining discussion that was more akin to a happy hour party. We loved chatting with Patrick, Grace and the other guests, and learned so much about how to properly cook using cast iron. If you’re staying at the Inns, I strongly suggest grabbing a seat at one of these events.

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