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Bay area cooking classes for gift?

  • n

We are getting our foodie bicoastal friend a dinner at the James Beard House in NY. We also want to get him a Bay Area gift and were considering cooking classes. We have about $200-300 to spend. Any recommendations? Ive looked at the Ramekins and Relish classes (both in Sonoma) so far.

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  1. My friends got me a certificate for a Sur la Table class (in Berkeley), and although I haven't used it yet, a lot of the classes on their schedule sounded good.

    2 Replies
    1. re: AppleSister

      The beginning Knife Skills class at Sur La Table in Berkeley was excellent, probably the most useful cooking class I've ever taken. I also took the Intermediate course, but it wasn't as informative. Courses on these nuts-and-bolts skills are really worth it -- you just can't replicate that kind of experential learning by watching cooking shows on TV.

      Sur La Table offers lots of great courses, including ones led by visiting or local celebrity chefs. You could probably get your friend a gift certificate there, which they could use for either courses or cooking items.

      1. re: beanbag

        My favorite cooking class has been Indian cooking with Ruta Kahate. I've participated in three classes so far (plus one "observation only" at Sur la Table with her as well). Lots of fun, much to learn. Rutaruta.com.

    2. I took a class through Piedmont Adult School at Terry Pauling's "Creative Kitchen" in Emeryville.

      While slightly basic, I found her recipes to be strong, her technique lessons solid and the atmosphere really fun & collaborative. Terry herself was a great teacher, very down to earth, and clearly loves to cook.

      The website for the kitchen is posted below.

      Link: http://www.pauldingandco.com

      1. j
        Joan Kureczka

        If he likes Italian, Tante Marie hosts an annual set of 3 demo classes by Guliano Bugialli every March. They fill up quickly though, so if you are interested in that I advise checking it out asap.

        1. Another excellent class, taken by friends of mine who then passed the precious knowledge along to me, is offered by a Thai woman in her home in the East Bay. The green curry recipe they taught me is the best green curry I have had outside of Thailand, and they taught me to make it!

          Also see link below for recipes and brand recommendations.

          Link: http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/clas...

          2 Replies
          1. re: AppleSister

            Kasma Loha-unchit is very well thought of as a cooking teacher and tour leader. I know a number of people who have really enjoyed her classes, including my mom, who then gave them to her sister. If you're interested in Thai, I think this would be a great choice.

            Her website is also a great resource for those interested in cooking Thai food.

            1. re: AppleSister

              I second this recommendation.

              I loved her classes and I can't wait to take more of them. The green curry recipe is my favorite also. I thought about bringing it to the chow picnic last year, but decided it would be too difficult to keep warm.

            2. If you post your direct email address I can send you some information about cooking classes that I am teaching.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sailorbuoys

                I would love to hear about these classes - though I am not the orginal poster...

              2. Try HomeChef they are in Walnut Creek, SF and Marin. I took their food and wine course, great!! I learned a lot!

                1. A friend and I give each other cooking classes for gifts (since neither of us needs any more tchotchkes) and we've lately become hooked on the hands-on classes offered at Hawthorne Lane. We've taken classes at the California Culinary Academy, Sur la Table, Ramekins and even in the kitchen at the Bankers Club/Carnelian Room, plus at a chef's home, and we really enjoyed the one we took at Hawthorne Lane. We are going back twice this fall.

                  Unlike most classes, where they double or triple the recipe and you usually only get to make one dish, at Hawthorne Lane, they divided us into 3 or 4 groups (depending on the dish) and we were all involved in each course from start to finish. We also prepare the recipes in the quantities you would do at home, so you get a good feel for what it should look like in the process. Granted, they do the prep work for you, but I've chopped enough onions in my life...if the trade-off is that we get to see more of the recipe preparation (in order to keep the class to a reasonable length), it's okay with me.

                  For $80, we had 2 Mimosas to start, cooked and ate 3 courses, and had 2 different wines with the meal. The sommelier came out and discussed why he chose which wine, and the owener, chef and pastry chef all taught during the class.

                  As a second choice, I prefer Ramekins, because it's only a cooking school and the kitchens are good-sized. Most of the instructors teach at both Ramekins and Sur la Table, but it's always fun to walk around the Sonoma square before or after a class, or go wine tasting.

                  Link: http://www.hawthornelane.com/site/cal...

                  1. I've enjoyed the few classes I've attended at Draeger's. Which reminds me, I still need to use a $100 gift cert myself.

                    Link: http://www.draegers.com/DCS/index.html

                    1. Lives To Eat,

                      Here it is, two years after you posted your message about Hawthorne Lane's cooking classes-- and I'm just SO HAPPY that I've read your post! I'm going to buy a gift certificate for my husband this Christmas so that he can take their Dungeness Crab Festival class in March. He will LOVE it! Thank you for your enthusiastic recommendation.


                      1. I've taken lots of courses at Ramekins (sausage making, mozzarella cheese pulling, dim sum, Danish pastries and puff pastry, breakfast breads, Mardi Gras dishes, and others) and have liked them a lot. The teachers are quite good, the facilities are excellent, and they offer lots of hands-on classes which I much prefer to demonstration classes. I highly recommend Ramekins.

                        1. What about Kitchen on Fire? Fairly new, North Berkeley.