Many people learn better when they feel comfortable, which is why Cucina Bambini designed their workspace to resemble a family kitchen instead of a clinical wall of burners and ovens. Black-and-white tiles cover the walls behind rustic cabinets and ceramic spice vessels. Instructors work with ingredients atop a central island to share their passion for cooking with students of all ages. Children can learn about culture as well as cuisine in Around the World classes that focus on recipes for tandoori chicken or Chinese siu mai dumplings. Adults may mix fresh pasta dough and form fettuccine or ravioli by hand or learn how to prepare sushi rice and use it in fresh rolls or nigiri. During date-night classes, couples can bring in a bottle of wine to sip as they prepare a four-course dinner that they will eventually devour or smear across each other's faces.
"If you make it, you will taste it" is the motto founder Julie Fabing Burleson (http://gr.pn/yCWj1v) envisioned when she created Young Chefs Academy. In addition to giving youngsters hands-on exposure to culinary techniques, kitchen safety, eating etiquette, and table setting, the academy's philosophy ensures that kids like 10-year-old former veggie-hater Camille gain an appreciation for healthy homemade cuisine. With centers in more than 10 states, Young Chefs Academy enriches growing minds with engaging cooking classes, camps, and birthday parties that impart valuable life skills, such as self-reliance and how to trick a younger sibling into doing the dishes.
Students enroll in Community Business College not just to prepare for a new career, but often to enrich the one they have or just pursue an interesting hobby. Online and in-person training programs provide crucial skills in growing fields such as medical billing and solar panel technology. Enrichment classes cover everything from cooking to conversational Japanese, navigating Microsoft Office to profiting from eBay. Relationships with a bevy of local businesses let Community Business College offer post-graduate job placement, on-the-job training for those already employed, and a definite edge in popular party game "Name 20 Local Businesses."
For more than 50 years, the cooks at Guadalajara Market & Bakery have been wrapping carne asada, rice, and beans in soft tortillas for their signature jumbo burritos and spreading tangy guacamole over crisp chicken flautas. Beneath red tile eaves and graceful archways designed to mimic the atmosphere of a Mexican village square, they plate tostadas de ceviche and sizzling fajitas with beef, chicken, and shrimp. From the full bar, servers tote margaritas and micheladas alongside domestic and imported brews, which go well with tortilla chips and cheese, just as a crime-fighting dog joins the one human who can understand him.
Tearing into a perfectly charred, sauce-covered rack of ribs satisfies the stomach, and the knowledge that you made them yourself feeds the soul. Students can do just that in classes held by the nonprofit organization California BBQ Association, which shares all of its proceeds with children’s charities throughout the state. The course catalogue includes beginner and advanced classes led by pit masters such as Ric Gilbert, an inductee to the association’s hall of fame, and Harry Soo, a contestant from the first season of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters. Fees cover the equipment and food needed to prepare dishes, freeing students from having to stop at a barbecue-sauce river and fill up some water bottles on their way to class.
Chef Alyssa of Culinary Craftwork, a licensed and insured professional chef, acquired her passion for food as a youngster whose parents took her on travels around Europe, where they dined in Michelin-star restaurants. Her passion crystallized while she worked her way up to head chef through starred Manhattan restaurants, edging into kitchens with her short frame and tenacious attitude. Now she shares her 20 years of expertise during private in-home cooking classes as well as private dinner parties and small catered events. To help students become more adaptable to their kitchens, Alyssa's three- to four-hour classes focus on building improvising techniques rather than strictly following recipes, finally freeing cooks from 10-volume compendiums on how to, say, make coffee sweeter. Her classes revolve around preset or customized menus, and include the cost of food and Chef Alyssa's shopping, planning, and prep.