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Eataly’s La Scuola Is Now in Session

The Italian megamart starts its slate of cooking classes overseen by Lidia Bastianich tonight.

Lidia Bastianich   Photo: Courtesy of Eataly

Eatalian Unification is imminent, as La Scuola, the education province of the food superstation Eataly (43 E. Ohio St., River North, 312-521-8700), opens today.

La Scuola will teach up to 50 students at a time about Italian food and cooking techniques, in 90-minute blocks. Classes are not hands-on, but they are tongue-on, as participants taste every course prepared by the instructors, as well as wine pairings. Eataly sells ingredients from the demonstrated dishes for students to re-create them at home.

The chef and TV personality Lidia Bastianich serves as dean of La Scuola. The classes range from beginner classes such as introductions to pasta, to more advanced topics such as tonight’s inaugural risotto class. “You go through everything about rice,” she explains. “Which rice to use—short grain rice. You have to toast it first and slowly coax the flavor out with hot stock periodically.”

Although she’s based in New York, Bastianich will occasionally visit to teach classes, as will her Eataly partners, Mario Batali and her son, Joe. When the first-magnitude stars aren’t out, in-house chefs, guests such as cookbook authors, or visiting wine producers lead classes. Bastianich says La Scuola’s convocation will be that risotto class at 6:30 (currently full, but you can see the full line-up of future classes here).

Also: “There might be a little surprise,” she says.

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