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.
Do It With Icing's expert confectioners sculpt frosting frescos and lush delicacies in their classroom kitchen, benefiting bakers-in-training with years of experience and a plethora of sweet supplies. Sugary shelves offer provisions for opulent dessert sequencing, including candy-making paraphernalia and a bevy of different chocolate molds for creating an army of cocoa droids.
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.
Ron Eisenberg opened a shop that sold functional housewares in one section and greeting cards in another. He named the new business "Great News!" as a way to remind customers that the shop was constantly full of new items.
During the 1990s, Eisenberg 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.