Dating Trend: Cooking Classes for Singles

If you believe the way to someone's heart is through the stomach, you may be right. But here's a new twist on the food-love equation: Several companies are betting that if you get single people together, teach them how to cook dinner-and let them enjoy the results together-you'll do more than boost culinary skills. You may just heat up their love life too.

In these classes, "students" learn to prepare a gourmet meal, then break bread with a new group of friends-and maybe a new mate. You needn't have any culinary experience; in fact, sharing knowledge with those less or more skilled than you opens up all sorts of conversation paths. "Having the activity of cooking to focus on made it easier to talk to people," says Tamara Santos, who met her husband, Rick, through an event put on by Gourmet Gatherings (gourmetgatherings.com), which throws these parties in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Chicago, and Santa Monica. Other companies offering similar events include Cooking with the Best Chefs (bestchefs.com) in Chicago and serendipity-SF (serendipity-sf.com) in San Francisco, which has classes centered on a theme such as Tuscan cooking, Asian fusion, or baking with chocolate.

Tamara and Rick were first given a few culinary tips, like how to slice sage leaves, and then were assigned to coed teams, each of which worked on a different recipe (heavy on the aphrodisiac ingredients, of course). "Rick was in a small group doing appetizers, and I was with a larger group doing the main course," Tamara says. "Because Rick's pesto shrimp was such a quick and easy dish, he had time to circulate and give out samples. He told me later that he had made a concerted effort to give me a taste."

After the event, participants received copies of the recipes, as well as digital photos and email addresses of their fellow cooks. Tamara got emails from three men, including Rick, who was the last to get in touch with her. In fact, she had already started dating another man from the cooking class, but "when Rick and I went on our first date, there was just no comparison," she says.

Not only did taking a cooking class help Tamara meet a fantastic guy, it had an unexpected side benefit: "It turns out Rick loves to cook, and he has made me many gourmet meals ever since," she says. Quite the tasty way to find love.

Natalie Ermann is a freelance writer who believes in the Cooking Sensitivity Test: If he cries over a chopped onion, he's a keeper.

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