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Culinary Underground School for Home Cooks

Metrowest Daily News spotlights Culinary Underground

A lovely article written by Lillian Eden @metrowestdaily spotlighting our business!

Home cooks, relax: Classes offer guidance and confidence to chefs of all ages

Lillian Eden MetroWest Daily News

For dozens of anxious home cooks of all ages, Culinary Underground in Southborough is making it safe to go back into the kitchen.

One of them is Kira Marbit of Natick.

“I am a self-proclaimed terrible cook, and part of the terrible cooking portion is just feeling nervous about it, and the anxiety that comes with screwing up or doing the wrong thing,” said Marbit, a repeat customer at Culinary Underground, which offers a variety of classes for home cooks.

Run by owners and instructors Giovanna Clott and Elizabeth Tesler, Culinary Underground takes the nerves out of gnocchi and the terror out of tapas.

“I don’t have that when I do these classes, and so it does help a lot,” Marbit said.

Giovanna Clott, left, and Elizabeth Tesler, co-owners of Culinary Underground in Southborough, pause while chopping vegetables, Nov. 4, 2021. Daily News And Wicked Local Staff Photo/Ken McGagh

The classes she has taken typically pass in three stages: introductions, where everyone goes around the room to explain their cooking experience; the instructors laying out how the evening will go; and then getting to work.

Classes cover knife skills, but many of the ingredients are prepped ahead of time by Clott and Tesler.

“You don’t have to do the parts of cooking that are the most annoying parts of cooking, because they’ve done all of those for you,” Marbit said. “It’s just overall, this really warm evening. They are amazing at making everyone feel welcome, and it’s just lovely.”

Tesler and Clott purchased the business from the previous owner, and they’re both career changers: Clott was an accountant and Tesler worked in the medical field. They met in culinary school, started teaching at Culinary Underground and had internships at America’s Test Kitchen.

“We learned a lot and both decided that we really just loved being with people and just the whole exchange that goes on here in the learning environment,” Clott said.

Giovanna Clott, right, and Elizabeth Tesler are co-owners of Culinary Underground in Southborough. Daily News And Wicked Local Staff Photo/Ken McGagh

The pandemic was, of course, a challenge. The busy season for cooking classes is often during the cold season, October to May, and they would normally offer classes for younger students in the summer. But they closed for many months and decided not to offer Zoom classes.

“I think everybody’s pretty much tired of Zoom and doing everything online. What COVID taught everybody is they miss that personal connection,” Clott said. “If someone is there to support you, it just gives the students so much more confidence. Not to mention, it’s really nice, leaving your home and doing something outside the box.”

Clott attributed their popularity — they’re booked out through the end of the year — in part to shows like “Chopped” and “Great British Bakeoff”.

Improvisation is a big part of cooking, Culinary Underground’s owners say. For example, use a recipe as a jumping-off point, not as a strict set of rules that must be followed.

“There’s just something fantastic about creating something yourself, and especially food — it just tastes better,” Clott said. “Trust your judgment over trusting a recipe.”

Fun in the kitchen for all ages

Tesler said teenagers and children are great at absorbing new things, and that Culinary Underground doesn’t simplify its recipes just because of their age — children make the same recipes as adults.

“They want to explore, food-wise. They’re curious little souls,” Tesler said, and for all ages, “We try to create fun. That’s what you do, you have fun in the kitchen.”

Elizabeth Tesler chops vegetables at Culinary Underground in Southborough, Nov. 4, 2021. Daily News And Wicked Local Staff Photo/Ken McGagh

Clott said during summer sessions, young students were often surprised at how easy it is to make boxed staples like mac and cheese from scratch instead, and that the best way to have a kid enjoy their food is to have them cook it.

“We’re so used to being afraid to fail, so here, kids are able to just take a risk and not worry about did they get an A+, did they get a C,” Clott said. “Cooking is the only tactile thing that they probably get to do… everything is a computer screen, is theoretical. This is something they get to touch and create — and then eat.”

Practice makes perfect

As for cooking at home, Marbit said she’s been confident enough to re-create some of Culinary Underground’s recipes, and has been back twice with her husband and other couples to attend a class.

“No one starts out perfecting something,” Clott said. “Everything takes practice, whether you’re a professional student or a recreational student.”

Clott suggested a sharp knife, a good cutting board, a thermometer and a scale as the simple essentials.

Giovanna Clott, left, and Elizabeth Tesler, co-owners of Culinary Underground in Southborough, chop vegetables, Nov. 4, 2021. Daily News And Wicked Local Staff Photo/Ken McGagh

“If you’re not sure if that cake is done, its internal temp should be 190,” Clott said, no fiddling with toothpicks necessary.

Classes on offer include a one-day intensive boot camp for the basics, a couples night for French brasserie, including coq au vin, pasta making, a pie workshop and a culinary tour of Asia for teens.

Clott said they’ve been considering changing the name of ‘couples night,’ because people come in with friends and family — the current description on the website is “bring along your favorite someone” — and they aim to create a welcoming atmosphere where anyone can learn.

“When someone walks in here, they’re not a client, they’re a student, and first and foremost, they’re our guests,” Clott said. “You’re a guest in our home away from home.”

Lillian Eden can be reached at 617-459-6409 or Follow her on Twitter @LillianWEden.

Date night with the wife could not have been any better! Great food, good wine and the owners were wonderful teachers. Thank you and can’t wait for the next one!!


We just had a work party there. Great night fun team building and prefect menu for all levels of cooking. Being a food blogger and a BBQ Cook Off team even we learned a few tips and tricks.


What a great experience for people that love too cook. They were very thorough in explaining and breaking down cooking challenges. Brings me out of my comfort zone and venture out. ????????


It’s just overall, this really warm evening. They are amazing at making everyone feel welcome, and it’s just lovely.”

Kira, Natick

What a great experience yesterday with Elizabeth and Giovanna looking forward to the next cooking class thanks so much ladies….Loved meeting our new friends too


A fun time making pasta, learning how to do it from start to finish was very cool! Liked how everyone had some part in making the whole meal! Instructors were really nice and fun!


“I attended a class last night for Cuban cuisine for a work outing. These fine folks rolled out the red carpet for us and it was SO much fun!”


That’s such a nice kitchen to cook in. I like all the space and the hardwood floors shine.

Maria P

Everything!!! The whole experience was fabulous. had so much fun, learned so much and the food was beyond good. Thanks Elizabeth and Giovanna


“My boyfriend and I went to the couples cooking class! We had such an amazing time learning to cook French Cuisine. The staff was incredible and made us feel right at home. Highly recommend this to anyone who is considering changing up your traditional date night!!! We will be back!”


“The chef/owners are sooo nice and very very knowledgeable on cooking and the science behind baking. Macarons came out amazing.”


Culinary Underground taught me how to quickly dry tofu and an amazing recipe I have been cooking now for over a year. Fun night! I highly recommend this place for an incredible time and making accommodations for vegetarians!!


At Culinary Underground you not only learn how to prepare baked goods & meals, but you learn the science behind the techniques for success so carefully & enthusiastically taught by Giovanna & Elizabeth.. Your new creations wrought by your own hand are delicious!

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