Any good cooking classes in SF Bay Area?
Hi, can anyone recommend a good evening and/or weekend cooking class in San Francisco, or within driving distance of the city? Would definitely appreciate addresses/phone numbers/URLs if you know of a specific place...
Sur la Table has classes - mainly demonstration type classes (but they seem to be having more and more hands on classes as well) - on all sorts of topics/menus. I have enjoyed the classes I've taken at both the SF and Berkeley stores. They also have a store in Los Gatos. I've included a link below to their cooking class info.
I took a class at Draeger's in Menlo Park years ago - not sure if they still do as I don't get down that way much.
Tante Marie's in SF is a cooking school that used to offer (may still I just am not on their list) more traditional type cooking classes.
If you are interested in Indian - here's a site that was in the SF Chronicle a few months ago - Ruta teaches out of her house in Oakland : www.rutaruta.com
and another teacher in Oakland is Kasma Loha-unchit - her site is: http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/ Her classes get booked way in advance, but she occassionally teaches at Sur la Table as well.
I took a series of classes at Home Chef in Laurel Village a year or so ago. They offer a really wide range, from basic techniques to sushi making, and have pretty convenient times. I had a generally positive experience, but always felt that they were trying to get me to buy the expensive kitchen gadgets that they conveniently displayed right outside the classroom.
re: Steve N
I agree that the Home Chef Essentials are good classes, although they are not hands on. However, some of the recipes are dreadful -- I don't recall any of the cakes coming out well. The instructors were, however, both easy to understand and approachable.
Just remember, Home Chef classes are there to induce you to purchase many expensive pieces of cooking gear!
re: Peter Yee
I bought my husband a bunch of these classes and he said they were all pretty ghastly and the food turned out horribly and often after describing an elaborate process for creating some sauce of something, the teacher would lift up a premade sauce from the store and say "or you can buy it next door." He's a neophyte when it comes to cuisine but compared to his classmates he said that he felt like Alice Waters. In one class they actually discussed what boiling water means.
Well, that sure sounds like a bad experience. Mine was pretty good, as many of my classmates were foodies (in the kindest sense of the word). I was introduced to many things that many of you take for granted but I had not really known -- good balsamic vinegar for example. (Argh, it's $175 for the good stuff!).
Certainly there were recipes that I found disappointing, but many of them worked nicely. And in its favor, Home Chef classes are a lot more economical than some of the local schools. Now I haven't taken classes anywhere else, so I can't compare the quality.
One of these days, I'll have to try the CCA Saturday classes.
PS The only thing I can think of that they lift up and tell you you can buy next door are the "Perfect Additions" stocks. I hate to admit it, but I turn to Perfect Additions frequently. I just don't have the bones or patience to create a proper stock. At least that's what I tell myself. :-)
re: Peter Yee
I took the Essentials series about ten years ago. I signed up as an "Assistant" which meant that for 1/2 the price, I came early to help prep & stayed late to help clean up. (What a bargain, to pay less for hands on experience!!) I got lots of time with the teachers to ask questions and have full length food conversations that weren't necessarily about the day's menu. I think now its a smaller discount and you only have to come early or stay late, not both.
Also, I had a dinner party every week where I made the menu from the last class. (It was expensive but fun). That way, I could go to the next class with questions about what didn't work as well as it could have.
I did notice that alot of the dishes had more fat/butter/cream/etc. than needed. But I was mostly interested in developing technique, not trying to get recipes so it didn't bother me.
This year, My father-in-law gave me the seafood class for my birthday. It was a three class series and of the 20-ish people taking the class, only about 2-3 would admit to having cooked the previous week's dishes. I noticed the product placement was more prevalent than it was 10 years ago but I also noticed that the school is no longer in the hands of the original owners, it has been sold to Viking.
There - that's my experience & knowledge of HomeChef. Hope its informative.
What are you interested in?
Basics, advanced, pro-level or what? Also any particular type of cusine?
It would help to point you in the right direction. Otherwise we have to spend time to make a long list of classes and info that may not even be of remote interest to you.
In general, I would avoid demo only classes, unless you are mainly interested in tasting that cook's food or getting an autograph.
I prefer classes offered by Ramekins because they have a lot more hands on ones for a relatively low price even though they are all the way out in Sonoma. It's much more fun to the hands on than just watching and tasting. They also sometimes invite chefs from well known bay area resturants to teach classes.