Chef Louis Dourlain standing in the dining room at Table and Lain. The new cooking class venue is set to open in Forest Park next month. | Melissa Elsmo/Food editor

Chef Louis Dourlain has some significant culinary chops and is bringing his wealth of kitchen experience to Madison Street in Forest Park. Table and Lain, 7322 W. Madison St., is expected to open in early October offering small scale in-person cooking classes and niche gatherings.

“We could not have asked for a better space than the one we found in Forest Park,” said Dourlain, chef-owner of Table and Lain. “It was a food photography studio previously and came with the kitchen, bar and dining room. When we walked in, I thought, thank God, this is exactly what we need.”

The space features a communal dining area at the front of the shop, ample room for cooking stations as well as a full kitchen with shared appliances. A comfortable seating area flanks the kitchen to facilitate conversation.

At Table and Lain, class participants might make cornbread in a cowboy skillet, cook in a traditional paella pan and may even use modernist iSi containers and immersion circulators. No matter the lesson plan, cooks in the Forest Park kitchen will have access to top of the line All-Clad and Global Knives.

Table and Lain, located at 7322 W Madison in Forest Park, is awaiting a few finishing touches in anticipation of opening day. | Melissa Elsmo

Dourlain, who is an adjunct faculty member at Kendall College, is hoping to become a teacher to the general public and is excited to use Table and Lain to “dip his toes into different pools.” He is offering an assortment of five to six preset cooking class menus focusing on themes like A Night in Spain, Southern Cooking, French Bistro. Participants will work side by side with professional chefs to turn out dishes like whitefish ceviche, cornflake fried chicken and vanilla crème brulee as they learn techniques like sautéing, browning and baking. Following each cooking class the meal will be served family style at communal tables.

“People will barely break a sweat in these classes,” said Dourlain. “They will have fun and enjoy a great meal, but they will also learn valuable skills they can use in their everyday lives.”

Dourlain’s grandmother lived in Oak Park, and he grew up visiting her home on the northeast side of the village. He remembers learning how to make fresh pasta in her Oak Park kitchen and aspired to make the process as effortless as she made it appear. At 15, the aspiring cook took his first restaurant job at a pizza parlor and went on to attend culinary school at Kendall College. After graduating he benefitted from a four-year stint at Everest in Chicago. The since shuttered regional French restaurant helmed by Chef Jean Joho served as a standard-setting fine-dining establishment for 35 years.

“Everest was a dream job for me.  They really take you in, break you down and build you anew,” said Dourlain. “I loved it. It was a good experience especially for the camaraderie and mentorship.”

Chef Dourlain, owner of Table and Lain, anticipates offering private cooking classes for a maximum of 16 guests upon opening and plans to grow the business by introducing larger gatherings in time. | Melissa Elsmo

From there Dourlain made his way to California and worked at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley before returning to Chicagoland, starting a family, and launching virtual cooking classes for corporate clients under the name Table and Lain. And now, the burgeoning business is putting down roots in Forest Park.

Virtual classes will support the in-person class offerings at Table and Lain and Dourlain hopes to use the Forest Park space to partner with other food artisans, chefs, and bakers to host cooking demonstrations.

“I am looking forward to working with Spilt Milk, Carnivore and other local businesses to help offer them more exposure inside the community,” said Dourlain. “At Table and Lain we want a rotation of chefs to teach our classes.”

Upon opening, classes at Table and Lain will be focused on safety first and foremost. Classes will be limited to private parties of 16 guests. Proof of vaccination will be required, and masks will be worn during classes. All classes will be BYO until Table and Lain receives its liquor license.

“It is such an asset to have the Village of Forest Park in our corner,” said Dourlain. “They are excited to see this project get up and running and that’s a good thing because we have at least a dozen people a day telling us they want us to open.”

Dourlain is excited that Table and Lain will have room to grow and looks forward to offering drop-in weeknight classes as well as hosting small weddings and social gatherings in the future. Table and Lain is expected to host an open house during the first week of October. Follow Table and Lain on Facebook to stay up to date about their plans for opening.

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