East Village Gets the Culinary Study Center It Desperately Needs

Ready for you, your curiosity, and your disposable income.Photo courtesy Astor Center

Astor Wine and Spirits isnt content to just be the place where the rich denizens of the East Village buy their Priorat reds; now the store has spawned a state-of-the-art culinary facility, Astor Center, above its Lafayette Street shop. Lesley Townsend, the director, is quick to ward off comparisons to other recreational cooking programs around. Were not a cooking school. Were not a wine school, she says. Were going to be a host facility for events and symposia and conferences and panels. Like Dale DeGroffs Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR) program, at which the King of Cocktails teaches five-day exhaustive master classes for aspiring mixologists.

Weve seen the place up close, and it is pretty impressive: the seats in the study, the lecture area, and even motion-detector sinks in case you have the urge to rinse and spit. And the prose introducing Astor Center is just as carefully honed: "a place that would facilitate exchanges between winemakers and wine drinkers; between Michelin-starred chefs and masters of the Manhattan apartment kitchen; between omnivores and herbivores; between legendary food writers and restaurant bloggers; between politicians and pig farmers." When Astor Center opens next year, all you'll need to hang out is a love of food and plenty of disposable income.

Astor Center [Official site]