Huntington may be one of Long Island’s restaurant epicenters, but now there’s an establishment where you can learn to cook for yourself. The Cook’s Studio has opened on the same block of Wall Street as Finnegan’s, New York Panini, The Last Word, Jonathan’s, Cafe Buenos Aires, Bee Organic and Christopher’s.
The class offerings are every bit as wide-ranging as the village’s menus: Japanese sushi, Spanish paella, Korean hot pot, Mexican birria tacos, Cuban ropa vieja, Thai pad Thai, Italian chicken scarpariello, steak pizzaiola, fresh pasta and gnocchi — plus the most popular class: Make your own mozzarella and burrata. With enough notice, any class can be converted into a private or corporate event.
Veteran cooking teacher Victor McNulty opened the first Cook’s Studio location in 2019 inside the Hicksville winery, Wine U Design. “It was an instant hit,” he said, “right until COVID.”
McNulty spent the next two years building back his customer base, first teaching all the classes himself and then, gradually, hiring four other instructors. The next step was “to move to Huntington.”
The 1800-square-foot-space, formerly a nail salon, was a relatively easy renovation since McNulty decided against ovens or flames. There are 11 two-person cooking stations, each equipped with an induction burner. Two-hour classes start with a 30-minute demonstration (”just like on Food Network”) and then every team prepares every element of every dish. (Clean up is the responsibility of the staff.)
McNulty, a graduate of Manhattan’s French Culinary Institute, was already a veteran chef when, in 2005, he started teaching at the Culinary Academy of Long Island in Syosset which was acquired by Star Career Academy.
Teaching in a recreational setting requires a different mindset from teaching in a professional school. While The Cook’s Studio students do all their own prep work, McNulty sometimes needs to come up with shortcuts so that they can create and consume their meals within two hours. Birria tacos, for example, are usually made with a tough cut of beef that needs hours of braising; for his classes, McNulty uses skirt steak.
“We want to make it so that it’s pretty much impossible for people to mess up,” he said.
He also tries to keep the prices under $100 per person. “I want people to think of this as a Tuesday night thing, not a Saturday night thing.”
The Cook’s Studio is at 10 Wall St., Huntington, 631-896-1315, thecooksstudio.com.