The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York's Chelsea neighborhood is best known for its Career Division, which is an eight- to 11-month diploma program for would-be chefs. But anyone who would like to grab a whisk and learn something new can join one of the more than 2,000 classes, held annually, in the Recreational Division, which is divided into cooking, pastry and baking, and wine and spirits courses.

Most are one-day, hands-on classes that last four to five hours and run from 10 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m. or 6 to 10 or 11 p.m. Class sizes range from 10 to 16 students. The majority of classes consist of three segments: a brief lecture, cooking and eating. The classes are geared for adults, but some are for teens and kids.

Walking tours that visit specialty food shops and ethnic neighborhoods run throughout the year. In addition to an Indian cuisine tour of Jackson Heights in Queens, there are tours of Chinatown, Little Italy, Middle Eastern stores in Brooklyn and the Fulton Fish Market, as well as a tour of boutique pastry shops in Lower Manhattan.

One-day programs cost $65 to $105.

INFORMATION: Institute of Culinary Education, 50 W. 23rd St., New York, 212-847-0770, www.iceculinary.com.

-- Walter Nicholls