Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Culinary Classes

Food is good.  Good for eating, good for making.  For me, cooking with and for friends is one of the most satisfying experiences around.  I love architecting a meal so that the dishes compliment each other, tasting a dish as its flavors come together, and having everyone enjoy the results.  I live in a house with eight people, and we take turns cooking for each other.  Each meal is a fun production, but it's also a production — often about three hours of cooking.  By picking up preparation techniques or understanding core concepts of cooking I not only expand my repertoire, I also speed up and streamline the cooking process.

Cooking classes just make sense.  They are often pricey, but consider that a good cooking class will increase the quality of your food for the rest of your life.  I find classes that emphasis core concepts (how to balance flavors, what cooking techniques to use for what foods, etc) most useful — I don't remember most of the recipes I'm taught, but I'll always remember for Thai dishes you must balance sweet, salty, and sour.  Knife skills classes are particularly useful.  Chef Joe's class has transformed dicing garlic from a slow chore to a step so fast I'm finished before I realize it.

I've taken classes a few places, two of which are in San Francisco.  One, Chef Joe's, is a small boutique school near Duboce Park.  Tante Marie's is bigger, with the greater class size and spacious facilities that implies.  I can heartily recommend both, but a quick google search will turn up half a dozen that are likely just as good.

  • Chef Joe — TheCulinarySalon.com
  • Tante Marie — www.tantemarie.com
When: Classes are most days of the week.  But RSVP early — they fill up quickly.
Where: Various locations about the Bay
How Much: $60 to $150+

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