The Everyday Gourmet: Essential Secrets of Spices in Cooking

In partnership with
Chef Bill Briwa,
The Culinary Institute of America
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3.9 out of 5
63 Reviews
66% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 9222
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Course Overview

Think about the last fantastic meal you had. Chances are, the reason you remember it is because of the spices used in cooking it.

Whether oregano, chiles, coriander, cinnamon, thyme, or even tea, spices add incredible dimensions to what would otherwise be plain, ordinary meals. And while cooking with these and other spices from around the world can often be intimidating and confusing, they’re actually quite easy to adapt to your own everyday cooking.

Everyone who cooks—from the master chef planning an elaborate banquet to the amateur cook looking for a quick dinner—should have a confident understanding of spices and how each one can be used to create an exciting range of taste sensations. Uncover the secrets of spices and you’ll possess the power to

  • transform the food you cook from simple and dull to exciting and memorable;
  • know which spices to use to get the flavor you want; and
  •  experiment confidently with new spices and cuisines from around the world.

In The Everyday Gourmet: Essential Secrets of Spices in Cooking, join Chef Bill Briwa of The Culinary Institute of America as he reveals the essentials of incorporating a variety of spices from around the world—and perhaps even your own backyard—into your everyday meals. An aromatic array of spices fills each of these six engaging lessons, providing you with myriad ways to use spices in soups and salads, with meat and fish, and even in drinks and desserts. Filmed on location in the kitchens of the CIA’s Greystone campus in Napa Valley, these lessons are rich with insights that are sure to take your cooking to the next delicious level.

Savor the Secrets of the World’s Great Spices

According to Chef Briwa, each culture in the world has embraced spices in a unique, distinct, and defining way. This makes Essential Secrets of Spices in Cooking an excellent way to savor the spices and cuisines of exotic locales—and even recreate them right in your home. After these six lessons, you’ll have a well-rounded mastery of how to cook with a wide range of international spices.

  • Indian spices: India alone produces 50 percent of the spices we consume annually. Among those you’ll get firsthand experience with are toasted mustard seeds, black peppercorns, cardamom, and tamarind, as well as special spice mixtures called masalas.
  • Latin American spices: Latin America is a treasure trove of exciting spices, many of them used to add a special (but not overwhelming) heat to various dishes. Gain confidence in cooking with a range of chiles—from jalapenos to poblanos and guajillos to anchos—as well as with regional spices such as Mexican oregano and canela (“true cinnamon”).
  • Mediterranean spices: Chef Briwa takes you on a fascinating tour of spices and spice mixtures from the birthplace of Western civilization. A chile pepper paste from Tunisia (harissa), a Turkish spice mixture that goes great with grilled meats (baharat), and powdered sumac (used in the eastern Mediterranean to make food sour in the absence of vinegar) are just three of the many tastes you’ll encounter.

Spice Up Your Culinary Repertoire

Of course, you get more than just a basic primer on global spices in these sessions. You actually get to watch an expert chef put them to use in a fascinating series of dishes that highlight a particular spice’s characteristics, whether the captivating aroma of toasted cumin or the palate-warming heat of a roasted chile. From mise en place (the preparation of your ingredients) to the final presentation, Chef Briwa shows you how to make

  • tea-smoked quail,
  • rosemary lamb kebabs,
  • authentic Mexican molé,
  • chile tamarind shrimp,
  • hot mulled wine,
  • and much more.

Every minute of this course places you in the hands of a chef whose decades of cooking education have given him both authority in the kitchen and that unique ability to teach and inspire others to cook. Chef Briwa has crafted a lecture series that’s essential for anyone looking to spice up everyday meals. And the included guidebook—with full-color photos, techniques for cooking with spices, and easy-to-read recipes—makes a handy resource for the home chef.

Taken together, Essential Secrets of Spices in Cooking is a cornerstone of the well-rounded chef’s toolkit and the secret to richer, more rewarding culinary experiences.

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6 lectures
 |  Average 32 minutes each
  • 1
    India—Heart of the Spice World
    Journey to India, which produces 50 percent of the spices consumed around the globe, and learn how to work with cumin, coriander, paprika, masalas, and other unique tastes from this cuisine of spice. Recipes include basmati rice with cardamom and cloves, chile tamarind shrimp, and a sweet chai tea. x
  • 2
    China—From Peppercorns to Tea
    Learn how to tap into the essence of two distinct Chinese spices: Sichuan peppercorns and tea. As Chef Briwa shows you how to make noodles in Sichuan pepper oil, browned short ribs, tea-smoked quail, and more, you’ll discover depths of flavor you won’t find in the takeout food we’re all familiar with. x
  • 3
    Mexico—Chiles for Every Palate
    First, explore the differences between common chiles such as jalapenos, guajillos, and poblanos—and how each can add a unique (and spicy) twist to Mexican dishes. Then, follow the step-by-step process of making the perfect molé that incorporates roasted chiles and spices ranging from Mexican oregano to chocolate. x
  • 4
    Mediterranean Spices—Exotic Blends
    Find out why spices help make Mediterranean cuisine so rich and exciting. Some of the many diverse spices you’ll learn about here: ras el hanout, a complex spice mix from Morocco; charmoula, a thick vinaigrette from North Africa; za’atar, the Egyptian blend of thyme, sesame, and sumac; and even preserved lemons. x
  • 5
    Treasured Spices in Northern Europe
    Travel now to northern Europe, where you’ll get a tasty introduction to some of the many commonplace and exotic spices from Hungary, Spain, and other European countries. Hungarian paprika, Spanish pimenton, caraway, juniper—these and other ingredients, you’ll learn, are the key to unforgettable dishes ranging from goulash to mulled wine. x
  • 6
    New American Cuisine—The Global Kitchen
    Embrace everything you’ve learned about cooking with spices by taking a classic American dish—fried chicken—and using spices to give it unique cultural twists. You’ll see how a mastery of spices is the key to creating Indian, Latin American, Chinese, and Mediterranean chicken dishes, each with its own captivating flavors and aromas. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 6 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 6 lectures on 1 DVD
  • 80-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 80-page printed course guidebook
  • Full-color photographs
  • Spice identification charts
  • Recipes

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Your professor

Bill Briwa

About Your Professor

Bill Briwa
The Culinary Institute of America
Bill Briwa (1957–2018) was a Professor of Culinary Arts at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and worked in the hospitality industry as a professional chef and culinary instructor for more than 30 years. He was the resident chef for The Hess Collection Winery in California’s Napa Valley, the executive chef for The Wine Spectator Restaurant at the CIA at Greystone, and an officer on the board of the St. Helena...
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The Everyday Gourmet: Essential Secrets of Spices in Cooking is rated 3.8 out of 5 by 63.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good info I’m an experienced cooked and still learned many new things.
Date published: 2019-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! Other reviews have said that it's just a bunch of recipes and that it does not include much about techniques for using spices. I definitely disagree. Each episode showcased a variety of herbs and spices (including origins, flavour profiles, and traditional uses). Chef Briwa also demonstrated different techniques to use when cooking with them! Examples are grinding, toasting, smoking, marinating, creating flavoured oils/liquids, combining to make different spice mixes, etc. I think the point is to take the technique and feel more confident using it in other recipes. I almost didn't try the series based on those other reviews, but I'm so glad I did (it was also on sale, which helped). I hope this helps someone else decide to try it.
Date published: 2019-03-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I'm a down-home cook, not a world traveler. Although Chef Briwa is an amazing chef, I cook simply and from scratch. The ingredients he reviews are either too expensive or hard to find. I was hoping for a lesson in using American spices in different ways, not travel around the world.
Date published: 2019-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fresh new way to look at spices It's a recent arrival and I haven't watched the dvd yet but the book that came with the set is worth the price!! Diverse cuisines, already seeing new spices that I haven't used to date and new ways to use them. I'm looking forward to watching the class.
Date published: 2019-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Educational flavor A wonderful journey through a spectrum of flavors that I purchased to share with my culinary students and introduce them to Chef Bill Briwa. Bill is an extraordinaily gifted cook and educator and I can't thank CIA enough for producing and publishing his works as a legacy of his creativity and devotion to sharing his love for degustation and detail.
Date published: 2018-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spices are the way to go Chef Briwa has provided The Great Courses with many good cooking courses. His presentation style is pleasant and easy to follow. My complaint usually is that there are only 6 lessons included! The same goes here. One area I wish he had included is with Thai cooking since that is one of my all time favorite cuisines. Having said that, this course is very informative, includes not just what spices to use for different cuisines, but how to get that flavoring into the food. Sure, some of these spices are harder to find if you only have a small neighborhood grocery store, but if you live in a larger metropolitan area, these ethnic stores are becoming more common. I have even noticed some of the larger grocery store chains carrying more exotic spices. Then there are always spice stores online, which often includes quite a bit of information about spices and recipes.
Date published: 2018-09-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from No secrets of spices Interesting recipes but little commentary on what spices to use in general or specific terms. I expected commentary of uses of spices not a small number of recipes using spices without real commentary of what each brings to the recipe or better yet when to use each and what the contribute to cooking.
Date published: 2018-07-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not basic enough I am not sure if this negative review involves me or the course. Perhaps the problem is with the Course title. The title should be “the chef takes a tour of the wild side of spices from foreign lands”. Considering the other similar courses, I was expecting a course on spices I might use without having fallen through the rabbit hole ending up in China. For the advanced student this course is fine but what about the rest of us who want to know the secrets of the more mundane like garlic, onion, parsley, cilantro etc. I could cook a lifetime of French, Italian, and other main stream cuisines without reference to this course. If there is a course on basic cooking methods and even outdoor grilling (both of which are excellent) how about a course on basic spices. I’m sure the Chef would do a wonderful job of giving us his secrets, Unfortunately this course was like signing up for basic chemistry and winding up in advanced physics.
Date published: 2018-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I bought this course a few weeks ago and enjoy it very much, although I am still in the middle of it. The material is excellent for cooks like I am, especially now that I will cook mostly for one, but still want experiments and flavor
Date published: 2018-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Features Enjoyed learning about the delicious spicy dishes.
Date published: 2018-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spicy I have been cooking forever, even had some professional training, and this course is really helpful. you get a real appreciation of the various flavor profiles so you can experiment and become expert in creating your own dishes. Not an easy thing to teach! Chef Briwa is crystal clear without oversimplifying or patronizing. I also enjoyed his Lost Art of Cooking course, looking forward to more!
Date published: 2017-10-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from misleading Had little to do with individual spices overall. Dealt more with a broth of rich flavor enhancers from a number of regional areas in the world
Date published: 2017-09-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from read my review and save your time and money Another waste of my time and money. I thought they would teach what the different spices etc are and where and how you can use them in your everyday meals. Nope you get this watch the most boring presenter with boring background music make some fancy high end restaurant meal with ingredients you'll never find in your local store.
Date published: 2017-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Chef Bill Briwa is to the culinary selections of the Great Courses what Kenneth Harl is to the history collection. There is no higher praise.
Date published: 2017-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essential Secrets of Spices in Cooking I started buying this series a couple of months ago, and I absolutely love it.
Date published: 2017-04-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Everyday Meals This was a helpful guide to using Spices that will serve me for years to come.
Date published: 2017-03-28
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not very informative I am a sometimes cook who cooks when the spirit moves. I cook mostly basic dishes and have been very interested for a very long time in herbs and spices and the really great improvements in flavor that they can add to almost any ordinary meal. I take great pride and appreciation in knowing that I have made a great meal. I have been searching, off and on, for an excellent source to explain, in some discernable and understandable detail, how each herb or spice adds flavor to a meal. Too often the descriptive terms used in most explanations of taste have very little meaning e.g. sweet (how sweet, like what?), sour (how sour, like what?), woody (like what?), earthy (like what?). The unfulfilled promises of this course include “whether oregano, chiles, coriander, cinnamon, thyme, spices add incredible dimensions to what would otherwise be ordinary meals”; “reveals the essentials of incorporating a variety of spices from around the world into your everyday meals”; “providing you with ways to use spices in soups and salads, with meat and fish; these lessons are rich with insights that are sure to take your cooking to the next delicious level.” The promises were far from being met. Several recipes which employ many exotic spices were provided but there was no comprehensive description of each spice, what it tastes like, where/when/or often how to use it, nor any substantive explanation as to what each spice contributed to the taste of each dish. There were some detailed directions, particularly with respect to the use of many exotic seeds, as to how to prepare/cook them prior to using them in a recipe. There was a fairly good and extensive description of various chiles – how hot/spicy each is and how to recognize and prepare them for use in various dishes. Although the course title refers solely to spices, the course contents addresses, in a limited way, some herbs as well – a really good thing but way too limited. It would be most helpful to have been given directions as to the best way(s) to test taste individual herbs and spices, to determine how much and what flavor each provides but also to determine whether each has lost its taste/freshness and should be discarded. However, there was very little useful information, as mentioned above, on the most common spices, only on various very exotic ones from India, China, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, et al. I would not recommend this course to anyone other than someone who wants to learn how to prepare the specific and very limited number of recipes demonstrated in this course.
Date published: 2017-02-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Some interestig tid bits but 3-stars only I have two of the 'Everyday Gourmet' courses and found them much better. Bill Briwa is excellent. An advantage of these course is that you can see exactly how things are being done, what the dishes should look like when you are done, and rewind any time you want. I bought this course even though the ratings were relatively low. Unfortunately I have to agree with the lower ratings. What would be better, if possible, is a discussion of what spices pair best with various foods. And something about what spices pair best with each other and how the spices react with each other.
Date published: 2017-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Everyday Gourmet: Essential Secrets of Spices Excellent presentation and presenter. Greatly expanded my knowledge of using and combining spices. Am looking forward to incorporating into my recipes.
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mediterranean?!!! Mediteranean treatment basically left out Greek and Italian and Spanish. Most of that content was eastern Med and N. Africa!
Date published: 2016-12-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not enough discussion on spices Too little time spent on details of spices, where they come from, how their use got started, and why they were important to various cultures. Too much time spent on cooking. I do not need to see vegetable being sweated or sauces being thinned by stock.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hit the Ground Running wirth Cooking with Spices Essentially, Bill Briwa teaches you about the different spices from different countries by cooking dishes from those different countries. You learn techniques of cooking with spices and what you can expect from traditional spice mixes as you 'cook along' with Bill. The course requires that you focus in on what is said and what the cook is busy doing - you need to concentrate to take it all in. I followed along in the book by referring to the book occasionally as the video was paused for my reflection and referencing. I also stopped the video occasionally to ' Google ' various cooking terms as we went along. I think this will be a great addition to my library.
Date published: 2016-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fast-Paced, Excellent Series of Cooking Classes The instructor found the right balance among moving the course forward at good pace, keeping the student engaged, presentation of elements that build on each other, making the material accessible and showing, unobtrusively, his own mastery.
Date published: 2016-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Where have all the Frenchmen gone? How is it possible to have a course on spices in cooking and not include what the French do with the same spices? It's like a course on BBQ and leaving out the Deep South's contribution. That said, the course has removed the mystery in using spices for cooking other than BBQ. For one who's sole expertise is cooking low and slow I am looking forward to my adventure in spices!
Date published: 2016-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have bought several courses over the years. It is a fantastic way to gain knowledge in a variety of interests. Courses make great gifts that are always appreciated.
Date published: 2016-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spices I never Knew This course was really informative about different and unfamiliar spices. I can't wait to get some of these and give the recipes a try.
Date published: 2016-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spicing Up My Culinary Knowledge This is a great sequel or companion work to the professor's much longer class, The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking. This class on spices assumes you already have the basic cooking skills explained in the Lost Art of Cooking, so be sure to start with that class if you have not seen it yet. The professor explores common spice combinations from India, China, Mexico, the Mediterranean, and Northern Europe. He shows the spices, explains the flavor profiles, and the various culinary uses. He ends the class by making several variations of classic American fried chicken but spiced up with the spices explored in the first five lectures. He also makes accompanying coleslaw to go with each of the fried chicken varieties also incorporating the featured spices. Along the way, the professor incorporates a great deal of practical cooking knowledge (such as the best way to fry chicken). It has been almost a year since I took the Lost Art of Cooking class, so this class was a great refresher for me. Professor Briwa is an outstanding professor and an example of why I watch Great Courses.
Date published: 2016-05-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Culture / Spices as Variations on a Theme Served I believe the very last section of the 6th video brings it all together with a purpose and global perspective on the courses main value proposition. That is, how to uses your new knowledge of each traditional group of spices and approach to defining, preparing, and delivering very satisfying meals as variations on a theme. In fact, the example of basic american diets can be transformed into interesting, pleasing, and valued meals. Before watching the course, my perspective was to gain insight into the background / depth of each regional collection of spices and some aspects of tradition. Now I have a different perspective on how to evaluate, taste, and enjoy very simple meals while rotating / converging each theme discovered through the course. It may be helpful in the future to consider demonstrating the theme and variations as a very simplified concept in the first session and introduce each regional layer / collection of spices before going into each section. It certainly made the difference in reflecting on each sections value to the course and what / how to constructively value where the course was leading...."begin with the end in mind".
Date published: 2016-05-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very disappointed worst purchase ever The description says "know which spices to use to get the flavor you want". I've watched the videos and I'm still waiting. I could have watched the cooking channel and got more information. I was expecting a course that described the spices, where they come from, how their used, etc. All I got was a chef making a few dishes and some random comments. This should be more like Guide to Spirits where the subject matter is presented and then used in an example.
Date published: 2016-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from opened my eyes I find Chef Briwa's treatment of this subject quite enlightening. He discuses how to blend flavors and make your own blends based on your pallet. Using ethnic recipes he shows how to match spices with foods. His presentation is clear and balanced looking toward your personal tastes. I have not gone through the whole course yet but I find what I have covered quite practical which leaves me understanding the concept as well as his technique.
Date published: 2016-01-27
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