If staying at home the past three months has collectively taught us anything, it’s that turkey sandwiches, PB&Js, and ice cream straight from the carton will only get you so far. Cooking at home has become a new reality for many Bay Area residents, as catered work lunches and dining out have been put on hold.
Of all the silver linings we have collectively discovered while sheltering-in-place, getting reacquainted — or simply acquainted — with cooking for ourselves may be the most rewarding and ultimately useful.
It’s also presented an opportunity for local culinary schools, who have taken up online instruction for students of all ages and skill levels.
If you’re itching to come out of quarantine with a better understanding of the culinary arts, start with this list of local and regional cooking courses. When this is all over, you’ll be the star of your next dinner party — remember those?
Since its founding in 2013, this Mission District-based nonprofit has been a community hub for food enthusiasts of all ages to learn a new skill, break bread with neighbors, and connect members with the local farmers who grow and supply our food. In addition to monthly community dinners, 18 Reasons also offers free cooking classes to over 3,000 low-income Bay Area residents a year. The nonprofit’s regular roster of classes — split into categories like cooking fundamentals, barkeeping, vegetarian meals, and foodsmithing — have now entirely moved to Zoom, so households can cook alongside local chefs. There’s something for everyone, regardless of your background, time commitment, or age: kids can join in on “Short and Sweet” hour-long classes and learn to make meatball subs and milkshakes while the more adventurous home cooks can choose from multi-day workshops like “The Croissant Sessions.”
The Civic Kitchen
The Civic Kitchen is another Mission-based, recreational cooking school that aims to provide home cooks with the resources to make healthy, delicious meals through an accessible, hands-on experience. While classes would normally be taught in their state-of-the-art kitchen, home cooks can still learn from the kitchen’s dozen-plus instructors on how to make everything from Indian crepes to Italian classics. With a maximum of 12 students, Civic Kitchen’s smaller class sizes encourage students to raise their saucepans directly into the camera and ask, “Does this look right?
ChefsFeed is a national organization with 13 main hubs across the country, including four in the Bay Area. Its many affordable — if not free — courses are accessible to even the most amateur home chefs. Classes begin at just 99 cents and are taught by a wide range of culinary professionals from pastry chefs to renowned mixologists. As an added bonus, ChefsFeed has pledged 100 percent of ticket sales directly to class hosts or their businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
First Class Cooking
Emily Dellas is the head chef behind First Class Cooking, which teaches mostly novice and intermediate cooks how to incorporate the best of California’s local and seasonal fruits and vegetables into her easy, accessible cooking courses. Covering everything from food chemistry to culinary techniques, First Class Cooking has a bit of something for everyone — especially the millennial cook. Courses like “Strategic Cooking for the Week” or “Working With Whole Fish” are helpful for meal preppers or the habitually lazy when it comes to cooking food to last more than just a day or two.
BiteUnite is a self-described “co-working kitchen” where local chefs can rent out commercial kitchen and storage spaces for classes or personal use, get business support for their budding pop-up or catering businesses, and host events and at the storefront. While the co-working space is temporarily closed, chefs can still host classes from home — all priced reasonably at $25 or less. How to make your own DIY dumplings, Thai green curry, Japanese souffle pancakes, and pad Thai are just a few of the courses offered throughout June.