You don't have to be a full-time student to go to the Culinary Institute in Napa. You can just be yourself — a fun-loving wine & food aficionado. There are plenty of delicious options available to visit the west coast branch of the CIA — the Culinary Institute of America — near St Helena in the Napa Valley. Every weekend, special cooking demos are led by industry experts. In addition to cooking demos, you can go on a self-guided tour or you can take an in-depth wine tasting course.
Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is a not-for-profit college that offers advance education in culinary arts, baking, and pastry arts. In Napa, there are now two locations — Greystone in St Helena and in Napa city, next to the Oxbow Shopping Center.
The amazing Greystone mansion, located just outside of St Helena, was built by a wealthy businessman in 1889. After that it passed through numerous owners, including Christian Brothers winery, until, in 1991, the CIA bought the building and repurposed it as a culinary college.
On weekends the DeBaun Theatre sets up for live cooking demos by the college's chef-instructors. During the one-hour event, you watch the pros at work, then taste seasonal recipes paired with wine from the cellars of Greystone. There's a new menu every weekend.
These casual cooking demonstrations are offered Saturdays & Sundays. The demo starts at 1:30 pm and costs $25. To buy tickets, go to the Spice Islands Marketplace in the main building. Tickets sell quickly, our advice is to arrive at least 30 minutes before the starting time. Reservations are not available.
Here's a sample of what to expect at the cooking demo at the Culinary Institute in Napa —
Every weekend, there's a different wine, spirits & ale master class at the Culinary Institute. The classes run about 2½ hours and introduce you to the fundamentals of tasting and pairing. This is a fun way to learn how to taste like a pro! Here are examples of classes offered —
No problem. The beautiful, historic Greystone campus are open to the public for self-guided tours. See Brother Timothy's Corkscrew Collection, the Vintners Hall of Fame, the Rudd Center for Wine Studies, and the Ghirardelli Chocolate Center.
Did someone say chocolate? See how chocolate is used in baking, pastry, and beverages. This is where professionals hone their chocolate making skills. When you arrive to the campus, head to the main office for maps and directions.
The Greystone kitchen store is like Disneyland for anyone who loves to cook…or eat! Shop for all your culinary and wine-related wishlist items. The Marketplace is open daily 10:30 AM to 6:00 PM.
In recent years the CIA in California is expanded. Now, in downtown Napa, just next door to the Oxbow Public Market, is Copia, a food & wine emporium aimed at visitors. There are large demo theaters with daily cooking and dining events.
Here you can learn about culinary techniques, pairing principles, wine tasting tips, and tricks of the trade. There's also a food-centric retail store with beautiful linens, artisan pottery, cookbooks, kitchenware, wine glasses — everything the home chef needs for an elegant culinary lifestyle.
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Perhaps you just want to have a great meal at the Greystone restaurant. The open kitchen uses seasonal ingredients from the CIA's own farm and evokes what they call a "modern farmhouse" feeling.
Open for lunch and dinner, in the dining room, bar, or on the terrace. If it's too chilly to dine on the terrace, you can always sit inside next to the cozy fireplace.The menu is their interpretation of world flavors, prepared by students in training. Sample wines from Lessons in Wine tasting flights.
Open Tuesday to Saturday 11:30 AM to 2:00PM and 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM.
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