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Cool Food Hobbies

Fad foods and seasoning memes may come and go, but honing your kitchen skills never goes out of style. Steal the dinner party spotlight with these seven super-awesome food-related hobbies that'll keep you good and occupied all season long.

① Master Homemade Bread Baking

Many bakeries and boulangeries offer artisan bread classes, where students can learn to bake everything from tangy sourdough boules to loaves of buttery brioche. And if you want to keep up with your training at home, Flour Water Salt Yeast, by Ken Forkish, is the bread bible coveted by carb zealots everywhere.

② Learn How to Butcher

There's a certain allure about breaking down your own meat, not to mention that buying whole sides of beef or pork and trimming your own cuts saves you money in the long run. Invest in a solid boning or fillet knife and Adam Danforth's James Beard Award-winning book on butchering, and you'll be conquering Tom Colicchio's showstopping porcelet roast in no time.

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③ Craft Your Own Ceramic Dinnerware

Top restaurants are turning to pricey, handmade ceramics for their dining rooms these days, and you can easily join the fun by throwing a few of your own at a local pottery studio. Though you might not have the experience to churn out a magnificent Jono Pandolfi-esque piece, telling your guests you made both dinner and the dinner plates is sure to garner extra praise.

④ Ferment Hard Cider at Home

Sure, you can join the hordes of homebrewing hipsters bottling their own craft beers, but show up with a growler of homemade hard cider and you'll definitely turn some heads. While a fancy Alchema does do a lot of the work for you, picking up a copy of food writer and cider aficionado Emma Christensen's all-encompassing guide, True Brews, is a great way to get started on your first batch.

⑤ Get Your Sommelier License

Don't be turned off by the wine-sipping prodigies portrayed in Somm—becoming a level one-certified sommelier requires only some basic, straightforward knowledge about the world's major wine-growing regions. Leave that insane blind taste-testing business to the masters.

⑥ Dry-Age Your Own Beef

You could throw down a few Benjamins for Whole Foods' finest porterhouses, but the bragging rights that come from saying you aged your own 60-day côte de boeuf are unbeatable. Check out J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's guide to dry-aging at home for all the know-how you need.  

⑦ Make Handmade Chocolates

Chocolate- and pâtisserie-making classes are often available at local pastry shops or culinary schools, including the Institute of Culinary Education. Take one of the three-course lessons on chocolate tempering and candy making, and watch your potluck points skyrocket.