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.
Casablanca Market brings its collection of leather ottomans, hand-painted tables, Berber pillows, intricate mirrors, Moroccan tea glasses and tagines as they arrive stateside straight from the hands of Moroccan artisans, many of whom learned their skills as a family tradition. Hand-painted chairs and hand-woven carpets enliven rooms with vibrant colors and boast unique designs, unlike template rugs sewn by unimaginative robots. Shoppers can further their knowledge of Moroccan culture by attending the shop's cooking classes, which feature traditional recipes and ingredients. The market follows fair-trade practices to ensure artisans receive good compensation for their work and have their pay in hand before their goods ship overseas.
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.
After two decades spent perfecting his secret barbecue recipes on friends and family, Ed opened Big Ed's Buzzard BBQ Inc. to bring his sauce-slathered brisket, pulled pork, and St. Louis?style ribs to the masses. Today, the barbecue master piles plates high with eight styles of smoked and spiced meat, and his chefs fashion multicourse meals full of saucy barbecue, homestyle sides such as honey-jalape?o corn bread, and desserts including peach cobbler.
Meals can be enjoyed at home or onsite at get-togethers. The shop caters a full range of staples for private events, including whole-hog roasts, pintsize sides, and binding agreements to kiss the cook. When he's not cooking, Ed can be found teaching competition-level classes, where he spends five hours covering barbecue basics.
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.