A cooking class at 18 Reasons (©Molly Decoudreaux)
It’s no secret the Bay Area is home to some of the world’s best restaurants, but the most memorable dish you try could be one that you made yourself. These five culinary schools provide the guidance you need to learn about the ingredients and techniques that have made local chefs among the most celebrated in the world.
The award-winning kitchenware retailer Toque Blanche offers quarterly cooking classes in the beautiful La Piazza courtyard adjacent to their store in Half Moon Bay. The evening class includes a four-course meal cooking demonstration, and past menus have included ravioli with golden beets, herbs and sheep milk ricotta, chicken marsala, and olive salad with farro, chickpeas and toasted almonds, as well as polenta pound cake with port-soaked berries and whipped cream. You’ll have the option to purchase an accompanying wine tasting as well, which includes three wines paired with an appetizer, entree and dessert.
This non-profit cooking school and event space in the Mission District is owned and operated by Bi-Rite, San Francisco’s celebrated gourmet grocery store and ice cream shop. Classes and dinners offer a great foray into the food culture of San Francisco and beyond. This month brings a class on basic knife skills, an empanada-making tutorial and dinner and Flavors of India: Tea Time Snacks, in which you can learn how to make samosas, pakoras, mint chutneys and more. Be sure to book ahead as classes often sell out a week or two in advance.
Kitchen on Fire
Recently listed in the Daily Meal’s 25 Best Cooking Classes in America, Berkeley’s Kitchen on Fire offers cooking demonstrations, lectures and classes for everyone from the novice to the experienced cook. The intimate classes cover a wide range of cuisines, from Thai dishes to fresh takes on Thanksgiving dinner, and always utilize seasonal ingredients from local small growers and winemakers. Classes are organized by categories, including nutrition, teens, couples and vegetarian, and always begin with ingredient and tool instruction as well as nutritional information.
San Francisco Cooking School
Perfect for visitors, the San Francisco Cooking School on busy Van Ness Avenue offers numerous one-day classes, including Cook the Book classes where you can master recipes from famous restaurant cookbooks, including Chez Panisse, Kokkari and Zuni Café, or Best of the Bay classes, which feature chefs from top restaurants like Delfina, Mourad and State Bird Provisions. Speaking of big names in the Bay Area food scene, the school’s deans include Bill Corbett of Absinthe, Daniel Patterson of Coi and Craig Stoll of Delfina. The cooking school also regularly hosts book signings, chef dinners, celebrity demonstrations and private cooking parties.
Cozymeal offers a variety of classes led by local professional chefs at venues throughout the Bay Area, from art galleries to the chef’s own home. Classes will teach you how to prepare just about everything, from rich chocolate desserts to Spanish paella, but Cozymeal’s most popular San Francisco classes are the farmers’ market cooking experiences. Explore local markets alongside an experienced chef (perhaps with Michelin-star experience), who’ll provide tips on how to pick the best produce and ingredients before preparing dishes from a seasonal menu.