San Francisco Cooking School Debuts, SMIP Ranch Dinner & More

The team behind the new San Francisco Cooking School: (left to right) Bill Corbett, Catherine Pantsios, Craig Stoll, Jodi Liano and Daniel Patterson. (Photo courtesy of the school)

New San Francisco Cooking School

The new San Francisco Cooking School in the Civic Center neighborhood promises to shake things up.

What makes this one so different?

It plans to do away with teaching archaic disciplines such as ice sculpture carving and aspic making (still commonly taught at other culinary schools)  for more useful, contemporary skills instead.

What’s more, some of the city’s most esteemed chefs have been appointed as deans and advisers.

We’re talking the likes of Daniel Patterson of Coi, Craig Stoll of Delfina and Bill Corbett of Absinthe as deans; and Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions, Melissa Perello of Frances and Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats as advisers, among others.

Full-time (six months) and part-time (10 months) culinary arts certificate programs will get underway in January 2013. Classes at the more than 5,000 square-foot facility will be small, limited to 14. Students will do their externships at restaurants that have partnered with the school, including Nopa, Perbacco and Aziza. Tuition is $24,500.

A pastry arts certificate program will begin in fall 2013.

The school also will offer a variety of hands-on cooking classes and events for homecooks starting in October. Look for book-signings and demos from Matthew Accarrino of SPQR in San Francisco on Nov. 13, and authors Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein on Nov. 19.

Jodi Liano founded the school after hearing local chefs complain that so many of today’s culinary students graduate ill-equipped to work in a real restaurant kitchen environment. Liano is a former instructor at Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco, who has written cookbooks for Williams-Sonoma. Catherine Pantsios, another Tante Marie alum, will be the director of culinary arts and head chef instructor.

Dining in the great outdoors at SMIP Ranch. (Photo courtesy of Bacchus Management Group)

SMIP Ranch Dinner Oct. 6

The chefs of Bacchus Management Group invite you to enjoy a family-style farm dinner at the farm that supplies their produce, SMIP Ranch in Woodside.

The Oct. 6 soiree starts at 2:45 p.m. at the Village Pub, where guests will enjoy gourmet noshes before getting on private buses to journey to the ranch.

The dinner event, which will go on to about 10 p.m., will include a tour of the property, and a multi-course dinner served at long tables set with linens and candles.

Chef Mark Sullivan of San Francisco’s Spruce will lead the culinary team, which also will include: Spruce Chef de Cuisine John Madriaga, Chef Dimitry Elperin of the Village Pub, Chef de Cuisine John Cahill of Cafe des Amis in San Francisco, Chef Bradley Ceynowa of Pizza Antica (locations throughout the Bay Area), Pastry Chef Rodney Cerdan of Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto, Chef de Cuisine Saundra Middleton of Mayfield.

The event is $195 per person, which is all inclusive. For reservations, email:

Winners of Last Week’s Two Contests

In the first contest, I asked you to tell me to what great lengths you’ve gone to in order to satisfy a fruit craving. Two Food Gal readers will win a sampler pack of Peeled Snacks (each a $25 value).

Dried fruit -- with nothing else added. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Congrats to:

1) Audrie, who wrote, “The craziest thing I did to satisfy a fruit craving must have been the time in the middle of a Canadian blizzard and I was craving lychee. At the time I was in an university town and fruit selection was limited to start. I think I must have trekked from bus stop to bus stop in -25C temperatures over 2 hours and probably 15 cm snow. I ended up at the only Asian supermarket hours later to only find it was opening in another 30 minutes. I stood frozen in front of the store for that time and dashed in once they opened their store. Frozen solid, I head over to the fruit section to find no lychee, longon, or anything else resembling it. I asked the store employee and the only lychee thing they had was popsicle! Considering I just spent over 2 hours to get the taste of lychee, I bought 2 boxes and spent another 2 hours back to the dorm. At least the popsicles didn’t melt on the way home.”

2) Sarah, who wrote, “My husband and I live near the Apalachicola National Forest. In the woods, there are usually some blueberry bushes. Every summer, we check if there are any ripe blueberries to pick before the wildlife get to them. Few summers back, there were a lot of blueberries! My husband and I immediately made plans to pick them. We donned our hats with mosquito netting and slathered on homemade mosquito repellent. We picked as many blueberries as we could even though it was SO hot and humid and bizillion mosquitos were buzzing all around us! Finally after sweating buckets, I think we got only about 2–3 quarts of blueberries. Well, it was a lot of hardwork to get some fresh blueberries BUT it was worth it having them for dessert or in our freshly baked muffins!”

In the second contest, I asked you to tell me about the best tomato dish/preparation you’ve ever enjoyed. Winner will win two seats at the Sept. 15 “Fruits of the Vine,” tomato and wine dinner, at Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos (a total value of $190). The dinner will feature organic heirloom tomatoes grown by Enoteca La Storia of Los Gatos.

Heirloom tomatoes star in a special dinner at Restaurant James Randall. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Congrats to:

Kristy Wilce, who wrote, “It was a summer in Spain, we were visiting the Priorat region. My younger brother lives in Barcelona and is an interpreter, he had some friends making wine and they needed some help translating and interpreting wine flavor descriptions and euphemisms from Catalan into English for their new website. It was hot, we were in three jeeps, driving almost straight up the rocky hills, all men, my 6 year old son and me. I was so frightened that our jeep might just flip over backward that I asked to be let out so I could walk, but they didn’t understand me, no one stopped the jeep. We drove through the vineyards, my brother translating for us, describing vines, ricks, water, minerality. We parked and left the jeeps, then crouched as we walked through small tunnels where the water source came from, we were getting hungry. We walked further through vineyards, my son riding piggy back.Finally we came to a clearing with a small stone cottage in the center. All the men started bustling about, voices were raised, arms were thrown in the air, something was happening and I couldn’t quite tell what. A barbeque was lit with grape cuttings for the wood.

“I see a table cloth being carefully laid on the farm table, each man seems to know exactly what he is responsible for. Flowers are in the center, sausages are cut, olives placed in a bowl, wine is poured and everyone toasts and laughs to our adventure. Bowl after bowl comes out of the small kitchen, plate after plate, anchovies, ham, vegetables, every once in a while I see a couple men seem to light heartedly argue about the size of the bowl, the thickness of the meats, the placement of the cloth napkins. Never had I seen men behave like this, they were in a dance, a dance of food, wine and friends. Then several warm loaves of bread are carefully placed on the table, large, juicy ripe tomatoes are cut in half, garlic is peeled and cut and jugs of olive oil openend. Pa amb tomaquet! Tomato Bread is being made. The bread is thickly sliced and grilled on the bar b que, then roughly rubbed with garlic, and an entire half of a tomato is rubbed into each toast, juices and seeds being pushed into the bread. A hearty drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of sea salt. Lunch is served. Never have I tasted the rich, ripe, acidic flavor of a tomato as I did that day. My family regularly enjoys tomato bread 12 years later.”

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