Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
There’s a new school in town, and it’s about time. The San Francisco Cooking School has just opened its doors and is already offering consumer classes. In January it will launch its professional program.
I was asked by founder Jodi Liano, formerly of Tante Marie's Cooking School, to be an advisor for the school. There’s good reason for this. In 1996 I graduated from Peter Kump’s Cooking School in New York (now known as I.C.E.) and even then—as a twenty-something with little experience—I knew the school felt dated. We spent way too much time on mother sauces, aspic, and puff pastry—the oldies but goodies of the French culinary canon. And we weren’t the only cooking school doing this. There was the CCA here and the CIA in New York. Yes, this was 16 years ago, but I promise you that the restaurants shaping cities like New York and San Francisco weren’t cooking this food. (To put it in perspective, Delfina opened only two years later.) We lived in a multicultural country where ingredients like lemongrass and smoked paprika were very much a part of the conversation.
So it’s exciting to see the San Francisco Cooking School open with the goal to bring the city’s amazingly talented group of chefs and writers and more into its fold—to create a curriculum that’s truly relevant. Some of the chefs that are aligned with the school include deans Craig Stoll (Delfina), Daniel Patterson (Coi), and Bill Corbett (Absinthe Group), plus advisors Mourad Lahlou (Aziza), Brandon Jew (Bar Agricole) and more. Omnivore Books is going to bring some of their cookbook authors the way of the school. And there’s talk of much more.
I was given a tour of the amazing space on Wednesday. The front features soaring ceilings, rafters, a polished cement floor, and a gleaming stainless teaching kitchen with accents of orange. In the back, a state-of-the-art, but windowless, florescent-lit commercial kitchen is where the professional classes will be taught. No complaining: If you really want to work in a restaurant kitchen, you better get used to leaving the ambiance to the front of the house.
For the media tour of SFCS, they had beverages and a few snacks. I’ve been on a (personally modified) three-day cleanse in the name of a story I’m working on for January, but somehow I found a way to convince myself that wine is really just another form of juice. I chose red, of course, for the heart healthy resveratrol. Really, it makes perfect sense.
Tonight, the SFCS is hosting James Oseland, the editor of Saveur magazine to discuss his new book The Way We Cook. Sign up here to attend.