N, R at 23rd St.; F, M at 23rd St.; 1 at 28th St.
In 1977, an era when healthy eating was not a mainstream preoccupation, one forward-looking teacher named Annemarie Colbin founded the Natural Gourmet Cookery School. Originally holding classes in her Upper West Side apartment, Colbin upgraded her school's digs to a twelve-story, 100-year-old landmark building in the Flatiron neighborhood in 1983. Today, NGI's space includes three large, well-stocked kitchens where instructors use Food Network-style video screens to teach aspiring chefs and amateur gourmands how to select and prepare healthy food. Among the alumni of the Chef's Training Program are Alex Jamieson, co-star of the Academy Award-nominated Super Size Me, and Myra Kornfeld, author of The Healthy Hedonist. NGI's public classes consist of three-and-a-half-hour-long lectures, workshops, and hands-on demos that culminate as group dinners. Offerings span from ethnic favorites like Classic Punjabi Cuisine and New Latin Flavors to specialty diet courses like Globally Gluten-Free and Modern Menu Planning for Diabetics to fundamentals-based seminars like Knife Skills. The non-cooking public is welcomed, too. On Friday nights, lights are dimmed in the kitchen-classrooms as student chefs prepare four-course vegetarian meals for $40 a head (BYOB). Though diet trends and fad ingredients come and go, the NGI's mission remains the same: to fatten your recipe book, not your waistline.Extra
NGI sells gift certificates for Friday-night dinners, classes, and store merchandise.