If your New Year’s resolution involves cooking more in 2014, you might need a refresher course. Here's the scoop on San Francisco's leading cooking schools.
You could say the focus of the San Francisco Cooking School is San Francisco itself. The school features local chefs, cookbook authors and seasoned cooking instructors who teach hands on classes. While foundational knife skills and technique classes are popular so too are classes taught by chefs from restaurants like Delfina and Tacolicious and those based on books from local restaurants such as Aziza, A16 and Kokkari. The facility is state-of-the-art and brand spanking new and classes are limited to 14 students. Prices range from $65 for a 3 hour knife skills class to $180 for an Asian dumplings class with cookbook author Andrea Nguyen.
The new Williams-Sonoma cooking school is located in their flagship store, with sweeping views of Union Square. The school prides itself on the use of local and sustainable ingredients and offers classes focused on basics, techniques and cuisines. There are 2, 3 and 4 hour classes on subjects such as gluten-free cooking, how to make bouillabaisse and a Valentine’s Day menu with wine pairing. Prices range from $75 for a class on omelets to $175 for a nose to tail pork butchery class and maximum class size is 12. In addition there are free one hour technique classes that generally feature a product such as hot air fryers or Vitamix blenders.
The most popular class at 18 Reasons is the basic knife skills class, but beyond that, the world is your oyster. At this new-styled community center there are hands on as well as demo classes that often lean to the exotic such as the Flavors of Venezuela or a DIY class on making Balinese sea salt caramel chews. The space has a small selection of hard-to-find products for sale and of course, there’s Bi-Rite across the street. Prices range from $35 for a basic knife skills class to $85 for one meal, many tricks. Discounts for 18 Reasons members.
The new Sur La Table location on Union Street in Cow Hollow offers classes, which are generally 2 to 2 1/2 hours taught by in-house chef instructors with varied backgrounds. Many classes have an entertaining focus, whether it’s how to throw a tapas party or date night classes (dinner included). Prices for adult classes range from $69 for Essential French Cooking to $175 for a chef’s table demo four-course meal with Chris Cosentino. Classes are a blend of entertainment and education and are limited to 16 students.
At the grand dame of cooking schools located in North Beach, open since 1979, you’ll find quite a variety of classes. There are demo classes, a one-week course that covers everything from knife skills to cooking proteins, sauces, vegetables and grains and one-day workshops that cover topics from Southeast Asian cuisine to rustic country breads and Sunday brunch. Prices range from $65 for a 2 hour demo of advanced cake decorating to $950 for a week long cooking “camp.”