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2000s Archive

Cooking Schools: Wellness Kitchen

A healthy program in Westlake Village, California. See Gourmet’s full list of the world’s best cooking schools.

Seated around the grand mahogany table that is the center of the Wellness Kitchen at the California Health & Longevity Institute, 12 of us sipped iced pomegranate green tea as our perky instructor, Melissa Moore-Boyle, smiled her way through a brief introduction to the two-hour course to follow. Over in the kitchen, a sun-splashed fantasy dominated by a Hummer-size Bonnet stove, words like lycopene and antioxidant swirled around as we students—couples from nearby Malibu and other chic parts of L.A., middle-aged women who’d checked in to the Institute for general tune-ups (everything from Botox to teeth whitening)—chopped shallots and puréed root vegetables. Save for the “perfect roast turkey breast,” the results—butternut-squash soup, sautéed mushrooms with herbs, apple-cranberry crisp—were vibrant if not terribly nuanced. And combined with the one-on-one consultation with registered dietician Melissa, a human advertisement for healthy living, the class was an enjoyable, low-impact way to jump-start (or not) our journey to the new us. (888-575-1114; chli.com; $120, including lunch)

What I Learned

Not a whole lot, but I was reminded that it doesn’t take much to make your diet healthier. How hard is it to toss a few extra pomegranates or bags of nuts into your shopping cart?

Biggest Surprise

That a dietician would call for margarine and light Cool Whip in her recipes.

Before You Go

Decide what it is you really want to get out of your stay and, based on that, book an appointment for an MRI, a bone densitometry, or a CT scan. Alternatively, sign yourself up for the couples massage and California sunless tan and reserve a table at the adjoining Hampton’s restaurant, where you can order foie gras and warm caramel cake.

Where to Stay

The Four Seasons Westlake Village (800-819-5053; fourseasons.com; from $265). The new hotel is connected to the Health & Longevity Institute and comes with all the usual Four Seasons flourishes: mile-high ceilings, bathroom TVs, insane linens, and a spa you won’t ever want to leave.