When other kids played in the street, imagining lives as astronauts or cops, Leslie McKenna played in the kitchen, already a chef in her heart. Her childhood passion persisted, earning her a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University, praise in the pages of Bon Appétit for her pastas and desserts, and a job as Bob Hope’s private chef. In 2005, she decided to share her love with a new generation of aspiring culinary artists, so she founded Chefs, Inc. as a place to learn, cook, and have fun.
Today, her school hosts a wide array of cooking classes, when it isn’t occupied as a film set by shows such as Millionaire Matchmaker. The classes range from Julia Child’s classic French recipes to a dipping-sauce course focusing on grilled and fried eats slathered in custom condiments. She even teaches a knife-skills class, preparing students to slice and dice food like a professional, quickly chopping money or deftly cracking the fruit of the money tree to reveal the paycheck inside.
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.
Bay Area Expeditions' experienced outdoorsmen, with backgrounds ranging from U.S. military service to botany education, lead students on instructional excursions to bolster wilderness-survival skills. Classes help students identify edible or medicinal plants, earn ASHI certification for first aid, or learn primitive skills. Overnight [expeditions]http://bayareaexpeditions.com/index.php/expeditions) lead guests beneath the starry skies of Big Sur or snowshoeing tours through the Sierra Nevadas? snow-dusted basins.
SunCafe puts a healthy spin on traditional foods, creating each of its dishes from scratch with organic, plant-based, and dairy-free ingredients. The restaurant has collected numerous awards and extensive press acclaim for its raw and vegan specialties, the most popular of which include kale shakes, supreme pizza, and gluten-free cookie-dough pie. To help others become comfortable with preparing raw and plant-based food, SunCafe offers themed classes every week that share recipes and cooking methods.
It is Chef Juliano's passion for food and cooking that first brought him to the raw lifestyle. At age 19 he became vegan and shortly after started eating 100% raw. But there was one problem—where would he eat outside his home? With the inspiration for a restaurant forming, he called on his family for support and made his first RAW restaurant a reality. Today RAW is a popular destination for celebrities such as Alicia Silverstone and Woody Harrelson, as well as for any diner looking for a healthy meal. And with a menu full of cheeseburgers, sushi and pasta—all raw versions—every option is a flavorful one.
Eric Greenspan, co-owner and executive chef of The Foundry on Melrose, may have earned a place on the Los Angeles culinary radar for his work at hot spots including Meson G, but his reputation also has national reach. Besides besting Bobby Flay in a 2010 episode of Iron Chef, Greenspan has auditioned to take over command of Kitchen Stadium himself, most recently on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption. The chef's ever-changing menus of a la carte delectables meld French, Spanish, and creative American influences, plated with a sophistication deserving of a Caravaggio still life. Prix fixe tasting menus take diners on expertly engineered tours of flavors and textures, and vegetarian options let herbivores join the experience.
Interior-design guru Sandy Davidson decorated The Foundry on Melrose with a comfortable, art-deco aesthetic, mixing warm, antique elements with industrial accents. Bands play on select nights as mixologists craft artful cocktails and pour glasses of fine wines.