The culinary team at the upscale bistro Café Merlot shows curious cooks how to whip up special recipes and pick palate-pleasing wines in a welcoming, hands-on environment. Owners Toni and Rick Kraft, chef Daniel Reynolds, and sous chef Stella Midori-Mokofski will make a meal materialize before your eyes, demonstrating their innovative techniques in culinary crafting and their penchant for magic. Chef Daniel, with a degree from the San Diego Culinary Institute, has helped transform the vineyard-based bistro into an impressive, inventive dining experience. Learn some of his gastronomical tricks and apply them to your next dinner party or supervillain bake sale during your chosen three-hour session.
Jeff Roberto, a sushi expert, brings a plethora of experience to his San Diego sushi oasis. He has catered large events of up to 16,000 guests as well as the sets of such Hollywood films as Titanic, Pearl Harbor, and Elizabethtown. Inside SOAR (Sushi On A Roll) he constructs specialty rolls filled with shrimp tempura, seared tuna, spicy scallops, and sashimi and nigiri rolls featuring fresh water eel and squid.
Roberto also leads group explorations in the art of sushi preparation during interactive sushi-making classes held inside a private sushi bar. Two-hour classes commence with an assessment of how many edamame you can stuff in your cheeks before you begin tucking vegetable fillings in sheets of seaweed with the help of a bamboo mat. Students jot down notes on the proper consistency of sushi rice, when to sprinkle rolls with sesame seeds, and how to repurpose chopsticks as the mast of a ship-in-a-bottle.
A koi mural provides the backdrop for the expansive 30-seat sushi bar, which is outlined in neon to highlight the dramatic curve of the space. The expansive venue, which accommodates up to 100 people, is popular among large groups of friends looking for a fun outing and U.S. senators playing hooky. Free parking is also available.
When they moved from Cleveland to San Diego in 1976, Ron and Carol Eisenberg brought with them more than just three kids and two dogs: they had a business idea, too. The Eisenbergs opened a shop that sold functional housewares in one section and greeting cards in another. They named the new business "Great News!" as a way to remind customers that the shop was constantly full of new items.
During the 1990s, the couple began transitioning their business into strictly cookware. In fact, Ron turned the old greeting-cards section into a fully functioning cooking school. Today, that school boasts a fully outfitted kitchen where instructors and celebrity chefs share their wisdom during a wide range of classes. Nearby, the 5,200-square-foot retail space equips students of the craft with all the tools, gadgets, and cutlery they need, as well as advice from a knowledgeable staff.
As a high school student, Freddi Pakier's favorite breakfast item was a candy bar. However, as the school days dragged on, her sugar highs inevitably gave way to lethargy and mood swings. She didn't realize the correlation until she was in her 20s, which caused her to completely change her diet—a change that she credits with giving her an abundance of energy and a more positive outlook.
Freddi now shares her story and tips as a health coach at Meals that Heal, introducing students to holistic techniques and the tactics of nutritional science so that they can craft healthful dishes on their own. Her recipes also mesh well with weight-loss plans, helping clients to shed pounds without counting calories or removing their solid gold shoes.
Students can choose from a variety of class options that highlight diverse topics such as travel meals, vegetarian nutrition, detoxifying internals, preventing disease, and strengthening bones. All sessions are safe for those avoiding gluten.
Robotics, archaeology, cooking––6- to 12-year-olds enrolled at Cali Kids Club learn such unexpected skills. Clubs are classified under four different headings: culinary, engineering, geology and excavation, and arts and electives. Kids here have the opportunity to whisk up multicultural dishes in the Tastes of the World club, glimpse shimmery views in Rocks, Gems, and Fossils, and learn woodcraft skills so they can whittle a whole tree from a bigger tree.
The school offers 19 single-session (and occasionally double-session) classes at a time. Seventeen of them remain the same, and two rotate every week. After 10 weeks, a whole new set of 19 classes replaces the previous curriculum. Kids either sign up for a single session or nab a membership card that grants access to one or two each week.
Avivit Erlichman honed her cake-making skills under world-renowned bakers in the Middle East and the United States, developing a baking philosophy built around beautiful presentation and using only fresh, preservative-free products. Avivit boasts a diverse culinary repertoire; she's able to whip up everything from Israeli cheesecakes, pecan pies, and lemon cakes, to savory couscous, chicken schnitzel, and stuffed peppers. As a proud mother of three, Avivit brings a wealth of experience with children to the kitchen table, helping kids of all ages unlock their creative potential during children's cake-decorating and baking courses.