Monika Reti has truly done Portland locals a favor by introducing us to a fun and contemporary take on a classic cooking class. Whether you’re making cocktails for your pals, trying to impress a date, or simply whipping up a quick and healthy meal for yourself, Hipcooks has got you covered! With over 50 classes to choose from, and a laid back hands-on approach, the knowledgeable chefs are sure to provide you with more than just cooking instruction. Their “no measuring cups” policy guides the class in creating a somewhat custom dish to perfectly pair with each individual taste. With a modern and comfortable atmosphere, you will feel free to explore possibilities and will leave with a fresh outlook on your culinary skills!
E+E: How did Hipcooks begin?
MR: There was one of those lightbulb moments. I was living in LA when I was doing a party for one of my friends who had just finished filming. He had this magnificent loft space but no furniture, so we decided to do a Moroccan themed dinner party. He had this beautiful wooden platform bed, so we decided to set that in the living room and we took the mattress off. We put pillows all around it, went to Little India for sarees to hang, threw rose petals and placed candles everywhere- it looked amazing!
It was just me in the kitchen cooking. The party went from 28 to 50 guests and there was this girl who just couldn’t stop helping me. She was so into it and thought all the food was so delicious. At the end of the night she said, “Teach me how to cook.” I told her, “I just did, you just saw everything I was doing, you could definitely do this again.” It was then she said, “No, I want to learn how you never stressed once, and then you made all this food out of nothing when there were 20 more people than you originally planned. I want to cook like you; no stress in the kitchen and making food out of nothing.” This sparked the idea. So Hipcooks was born out of the spirit that the kitchen is not an intimidating place. It’s all about the process and really enjoying that.
E+E: Did the first school in Los Angeles take off right away?
MR: It did! It was definitely a pivotal time though. The economy was going gangbusters and Google was fresh on the scene. I think people were really looking for me, so there was always a demand.
E+E: So what are the classes like?
MR: We don’t use any measuring cups and don’t hand out any recipes in the class. Last night we had a Spanish themed Tapas class. I told everyone in the beginning, “No measuring, no recipes – we are going to make all this food together, and tonight you are just going to immerse yourself. We are going to have fun, meet people, and eat.” Then the next day I send the recipes and descriptions via e-mail, because it is long and complicated sometimes. It’s better to just learn it by observation and participation. Cooking is damn delightful!
E+E: Do you create all the classes?
MR: We have over 50 classes to choose from and they’re all made by me. All the chefs are in house and trained by me or another manager. They don’t cook anywhere else or teach anywhere else. You can have a great chef at a restaurant but that doesn’t mean they will be a great teacher. Occasionally I will have a teacher from other exotic places, like Brazil for example, and we will sit down and collaborate on doing something they are interested in.
E+E: How did you choose this space?
MR: This building was all being constructed when we came and we ended up doing a lot of the work on this space to make it perfect. We really loved the neighborhood and this building is just beautiful with all the natural light coming in. There is also a community garden right next to us where I have two spots, so I grow all the arugula, herbs, and other produce locally for Hipcooks. Garden to table is such a big thing in Portland.
E+E: Are some themed dinners more popular than others?
MR: We can’t offer enough Thai classes. We joke if we opened a Hipcooks Portland Thai it would be as busy as this studio. Portland loves Thai.
E+E: What are the future plans for Hipcooks?
MR: Hopefully San Francisco this year! After that we would love to expand to Austin, or maybe Brooklyn. My teachers love teaching here so much so when they want to move to other cities, it just naturally opens up that opportunity.
Now that it’s summer time, we are offering a cocktail street class called “Get Infused.” It’s all about infusion and not just cocktails, but foods- we infuse aioli, butters…
E+E: Oh my god, stop. Mouth watering. Sign us up for that one.
E+E: In a nutshell, how is your approach to cooking classes different than the rest?
MR: Every class has a bit of work, a bit of learning and value added but then there is also time to sit at the table to sit with the people you just cooked with. People make friends here! That’s part of the experience. Cooking isn’t a chore, it should be an amazing experience. I would never do a cooking school where you make stuff and take it home.
If somebody leaves hipcooks excited about what they’re going to cook next. We’ve done our job. If they feel confident and inspired, that’s what we are here to do.
3808 N Williams, Suite 120
Portland, OR 97227