Beyond the basic sense of the exotic conjured by an unfamiliar smell, spices carry a lot of mystery with chefs and home cooks alike. Cookbooks provide exact recipes for spice rubs and rudimentary substitution advice, but I’m intimidated by the idea of purchasing whole spices and toasting, grinding and blending them on my own. For those of us who are intrigued by spice blending but don’t know where to start, a Hell’s Kitchen spice shop is hoping to help.
La Boîte, the small space that has earned glowing reviews and counts restaurants like Le Bernardin, Daniel and PDT among its customers, is offering a spice class with renowned expert and owner Lior Lev Sercarz. The intimate setting offers six participants the chance to make their own spice blends and learn about testing, toasting and blending a wide variety of spices.
The class, offered monthly, lasts two hours and includes a discussion on traditional spices, sourcing, and how to approach the blending process. “There’s a huge creativity component,” a representative from the shop tells us, and students are encouraged to draw inspiration from memory, a sense of place, a favorite piece of art, or the ingredients themselves.
Though many class members are aspiring cookbook writers and bakers, Sercarz emphasizes that participants need not have any cooking experience. The class is designed to introduce blending basics to curious minds, and the instructional method is intended to empower home cooks to experiment on their own.
Tickets, $125, are still available for next week’s class. La Boîte also hosts a free monthly pop-up series featuring local artisans. Check out our calendar for their upcoming events.