Write this down: Orange is the new black, Tuesday is the new Thursday – and chefs are the new rock stars. Wire whisks in hand, reeking of foie gras and arugula, these delicious idols are monopolizing the airwaves, the bookstores, and the imaginations of eaters everywhere. Never has spending countless evenings in a steamy, cramped kitchen been considered so glamorous. Unsurprisingly, culinary school enrollments are on the rise, as former doctors, ex-lawyers, and pink-slipped Internet execs trade in their trades for shiny saucepans and more nourishment. New gastro-celebs like Nigella, Emeril, and Jamie Oliver have become household names with legions of hungry and dedicated fans. But we San Franciscans have our own stars to celebrate at "Hot Chefs," where Michael Mina of Aqua and Charles Nob Hill fame, Adrian Hoffman from One Market, Fifth Floor sommelier Belinda Chang, and others discuss their luminary status. Best of all, you can sample some of the culinary creations that made them what they are. The wine and hors d'oeuvres reception starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Careme Dining Room at the California Culinary Academy, 625 Polk (at Turk), S.F. Admission is $25-40; call 597-6700 or visit www.commonwealthclub.org.
– Sunny Andersen
Art exhibit/fix-it ticket
The streets of this country were once dotted with repair shops for washing machines, kitchen appliances, and televisions. If something broke, odds were you could find someone to get it working again. But since planned obsolescence became a marketing strategy in the 1960s, many products have been made to discourage or prevent repair. Claudia Tennyson's art show "Repair Project" calls to mind those disappearing shops, but also turns refurbishment on its head – her fixes are creative rather than functional. Example: A broken hand mirror becomes a wall hanging, its silvered glass removed and a coat of textured paint added to emphasize the graceful shape of the old-fashioned frame. Bring small broken items for Tennyson to "fix," beginning at 11 a.m. (and continuing through Dec. 14) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 978-2787 or visit www.yerbabuenaarts.org.
– Hiya Swanhuyser
Feast for the Eyes
Appetizing abodes move in
The fairy tale Hansel and Gretelin 17th-century Germany gave birth to knusperhaeuschen ("houses for nibbling"), made out of spicy cake to mimic the witch's edible domicile. Now each Christmas American artisans deck the halls of their own tasty minihouses. This year, Union Square restaurants show off some real beauties at "Gingerbread Lane," a display featuring a 21-story replica of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, a facsimile of the Painted Ladies, and a three-story San Francisco Victorian. The houses are on view through the end of December at Grand Cafe (501 Geary), Scala's Bistro (432 Powell), Kuleto's Italian Restaurant (221 Powell), and Postrio (545 Post), S.F. Admission is free; call 955-5486.
– Joyce Slaton
Help for the Holidays
Want to skip the nonstop gluttony on Thanksgiving weekend? Put your time to better use prepping and serving a turkey-day meal for the homeless, senior, disabled, and disadvantaged diners at Tenderloin Tessie's Holiday Dinners. Volunteers are needed starting at 4 p.m. on Wednesday and 11 a.m. on Thursday at the First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin (at Geary), S.F. Volunteering is free; call 255-7503.
– Joyce Slaton