Have you ever yearned to enroll in one of the culinary boot camps at the Culinary Institute of America down in Hyde Park, but were rendered speechless by the exorbitant cost?  Well, today is your lucky day, readers and friends, because good ol’ Schenectady County Community College will be offering their own three-day Boot Camp in January, for about the half the cost of the CIA’s.  And the best part is – SCCC’s Boot Camp includes two nights at selected Schenectady hotel (all of which are REALLY nice, trust me).

Here’s the scoop, from the official press release:

The Chamber of Schenectady County’s Tourism Committee and Schenectady County Community College have teamed up to offer Schenectady County’s first-ever culinary “Boot Camp”, taking place January 4-6, 2010. Schenectady’s Culinary Boot Camp is a three-day, two-night culinary workshop, offering food lovers and novices alike the opportunity to learn classic cooking techniques, taste ingredients, and share a great experience with fellow foodies.

The Boot Camp workshops will be taught by Christopher Tanner, culinary instructor at SCCC. Chef Tanner is a Certified Executive Chef as well as a Certified Hospitality Educator with the American Hotel & Lodging Association. His education includes an AOS in Culinary Arts from SCCC, a BBA from SUNY Delhi and a Masters in Gastronomy and Food Studies from Boston University. On a national level, Chef Tanner is an ACF Approved Culinary Judge, which takes him to various locations in the country to judge ACF sanctioned culinary competitions.

The three days of professional instruction by Chef Tanner are centered on the theme “A Taste of Tuscany.” Students will learn about traditional Italian cuisines, classic Italian ingredients, Antipasti, Primi (pasta, polenta & risotto), Italian ingredients, pairing wine with Italian dishes, and creating Italian desserts. Brief seminars blended with extensive hands-on cooking time will offer students a true interactive culinary experience (which even includes a professional chef’s coat)!

The Boot Camp schedule will also offer opportunities for students to experience what Schenectady County has to offer:

  • On the first evening, the chef at the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia chef will prepare a delectable 4 course meal which will be paired with wines from Italy’s Tuscany region. The Mansion’s sommelier will offer a brief seminar on wine and food pairings. Cooking methods learned during the class will be incorporated into the evening’s menu, and a tour of the Glen Sanders Mansion historic facility will also be included.
  • On the second evening, students are invited to visit restaurants in Schenectady, during the Dine Around Schenectady event. Boot Camp tuition includes a $20 restaurant gift certificate that can be used at participating restaurants.

The cost for Schenectady’s Culinary Boot Camp is $690 per person, which includes instruction, the wine dinner at Glen Sanders Mansion, a two-night stay at a Schenectady hotel of the student’s choosing (Glen Sanders Mansion, Holiday Inn, Parker Inn, Stockade Inn), and motor coach transportation between hotel(s) and Schenectady County Community College. Participants may also purchase an optional professional knife kit for $40 (includes a chef’s knife, paring knife, and sharpening steel).

The Schenectady Culinary Boot Camp offers cooking enthusiasts the opportunity to experience first-class instruction at one of the nation’s most highly praised culinary schools, at a fraction of the cost of similar courses at other culinary institutions – and Schenectady’s Boot Camp even includes lodging and event transportation! Boot Camp Registration is open NOW at www.cookinginschenectady.com.

This class would make an AMAZING holiday gift for the food lover in your life, wouldn’t it???

Full disclosure: I was on the committee that helped put this Boot Camp together, and I am so jazzed that this is finally happening here.  SCCC has an incredible culinary program, and Chris Tanner is a talented chef (not to mention a really nice guy!).  Matt Mazzone is the chair of the Chamber’s Tourism Committee, and he was really the driving force behind this whole thing – a big shout out to Matt for getting this together (and offering the services of noted chef Jaime Ortiz, if the class gets too full for one instructor…)