San Francisco Cooking School

Thursday, January 3, 2013
SF Cooking School, knives // LickMySpoon

Please pack your knives

A few months ago, I attended a media preview of the San Francisco Cooking School, a new school in the city offering professional culinary and pastry arts certificate programs, along with recreational cooking classes in a gorgeous work space.

Jodi and Tony Liano, SF Cooking School // LickMySpoon

Jodi and Tony Liano, SF Cooking School

I was excited to check out the new facility, perhaps cover a few of their interesting rec classes, but as I learned more about the school, their philososophy, the curriculum…a little seed that was planted long ago sprouted its first leaf.

SF Cooking School // LickMySpoon

(from left to right): Sara Deseran (San Francisco Magazine), Craig Stoll (Delfina), Catherine Pantsios (head instructor, SFCS), and Bill Corbett (Absinthe)


A big differentiation between San Francisco Cooking School and other culinary schools is the strong network of Bay Area chefs and food professionals behind it. Deans include Daniel Patterson (chef/owner of Coi, Plum, and Plum Bar), Craig Stoll (chef/owner, Delfina Restaurant Group), and Bill Corbett (executive pastry chef, Absinthe). The board of advisors also reads like an all-star roster of an SF culinary Dream Team.

“We’ve talked over the past year with our chef colleagues about what they need from their cooks, and together created a rigorous, hands-on, contemporary curriculum that reflects our California food culture. We won’t be teaching outmoded subjects or recipes, nor will there be a chef toque in sight.”
– Jodi Liano, SFCS founder and instructor

Jodi promised that not only would students be learning and cooking in a fast-paced, hands-on environment, they would also be immersed into the culinary epicenter of San Francisco as their teaching campus with field trips to local purveyors and externship placements at some of the city’s hottest restaurants.

San Francisco Cooking School // LickMySpoon

San Francisco Cooking School

As the deans and instructors went through their spiel, in the back of my brain, all I kept thinking was: This is awesome! I want to do this!

I went home totally amped. Over the next week, the voice in my brain grew to a low roar… I. Want. To. Do. This. … until it became … OMG, Can I do this? I mean, I really want to do this. Honey, can I do this? Holy Sh*t. I’M DOING THIS!!!

San Francisco Cooking School: Inaugural Class // LickMySpoon

San Francisco Cooking School: Inaugural Class

Which brings me today: January 3, 2013.
My first day of cooking school :)

I felt like a kid again, first day jitters and all. I met my classmates – there are 12 of us total, all from different paths, all converging here to figure out where and how to channel our love of food into something more.

Don’t worry, I will still be posting regularly, and will keep you in the loop on everything I learn. We’re about to step up our game here, peoples. Get excited.

So far…Day 1 highlights:

  • We got our knife kit today! Yes, it was basically like Christmas all over again. The kit contained a 10-inch Wusthof chef’s knife and a honing steel, along with some other goodies. The steel keeps your cutting edges aligned. There’s a molecular reasoning behind it all, but basically, it’s good practice to run your blade along the steel after you’ve been cutting for awhile. It also makes you look badass and totally legit, and it makes it sound like a ninja fight is about to go down.
  • We put our very sharp knives to work and cut onions until everyone cried. That became a tasty French onion soup.
  • Then, we moved on to carrots. So many carrots. So many hard, dense, carrots. We batoned, and julienned, brunoised them into shape. My nails are now orange and I’ve got the beginnings of a knife callus forming on the inside of my index finger. I’m taking that as a sign that I’m doing it right.
  • I can’t wait for more!
Stephanie Hua, SF Cooking School // LickMySpoon

I’m on my way…

New Year, new whites. And so my new adventure begins!

“When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way.”
– Walt Disney

22 Responses to “San Francisco Cooking School”

  1. Felly says:

    Steph, you are finally FULLY living the dream… so jealous. Enjoy!

    • Stephanie says:

      Thanks, Felix!!! I am so super excited :) If I can get my knife skills good enough, maybe I can try staging at a sushi restaurant for you! To continue on the dream you almost started ;) Or…you know… a panini place. HA

  2. Liren says:

    Steph, I can’t tell you how EXCITED I am for you. Really and truly! Looking forward to following your experiences!

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Liren! Thank you so much! I’m so excited to just learn as much as I can and hopefully….um, figure out my life a little, haha :) Thank you so much for following along! Means so much coming from you!

  3. Dana says:

    Steph, I’m so proud of you! I’ve been looking at their pastry program so will be very interested to hear how you like it. Best to you!

    • Stephanie says:

      Aww, HUGS to you, Dana! I will def keep you posted along the way and will let you know if I hear of any good pastry classes coming up on the recreational calendar! At the very least, we need to cook together! Maybe we can do a joint class :)

  4. Betty Wong says:

    Happy New Year Stephanie!!! Wow, sounds like FUN!!! Wishing you all the BEST! I totally enjoy your food blog — really inspiring!

    • Stephanie says:

      Happy New Year, Betty! Thank you for all the good wishes! Same to you :) Hope you are doing well!!! I love seeing you pop up here every now and again. Makes me smile :)

  5. Hua says:

    Cutest little chef ever :)

  6. Congratulations Stephanie! this is so great! Wish you all the very best as you live (y)our dream! Can’t wait to read more about your experiences. 

  7. JulieinDSM says:

    Sweet!!! Now I can live this vicariously through you!!! I’ve always wanted to KNOW what they teach in a culinary school… now I get to find out. Truly, the restaurant life is NOT for me… but I still would like to know if I do things “right” in my home kitchen!

    Congratulations, and much success!!! Keep those fingers tucked! ;)

  8. So excited for you! Can’t wait to read about all your adventures.

  9. Janice Soriano says:

    I’m super excited for you. I’m still debating whether or not I should take the plunge and go to Culinary School. I can’t wait to read all about your adventures :-)

  10. [...] hello there, long lost friends, how I’ve missed you! I have been deep in the trenches of Cooking School and I have so much to tell you. This update is super belated…I wrote it, meant to post it [...]

  11. Maile says:

    This sounds very cool. I, probably like many others, would love to go through the process of culinary school but not to become a professional chef. Purely for personal reasons (to truly learn about food and cooking, gain valuable skills, have the ability to grab random food and turn it into great meals without recipes, etc.). Most general cooking classes focus a bit on techniques and a lot on following recipes, but very few have the time to focus on learning about food (how to butcher, how to choose produce and meat, truly learn about spices, etc.). And, for a non-professional seeking home chef, these experiences (culinary school) are both too expensive and usually very time inconvenient (mostly full-day classes).

    If you would consider a more detailed post about the day-to-day activities of your time at SF Cooking School, it would be very interesting and provide a great curriculum for us to do an “at home” version of our own culinary education. A nice day-by-day blow of what you did (technique training), what you cooked (with recipe) with the food you “trained on” (such as the french onion soup example when practicing vegetable cutting) and the knowledge you learned during the ecucational portions (about fish, meat, vegetables, etc.) would make for a host of great posts to your blog.

    Cheers and congratulations.

    • Stephanie says:

      Thank you so much, Maile.

      Indeed, much of what I came away with from school was exactly what you said — having the confidence and ability to cook with intuition, without having to rely on a recipe, and also being able to troubleshoot when things don’t go as planned.

      If you are in SF, I definitely recommend checking out some of the recreational classes SFCS offers. They have a few 3-day or 6-day series courses that dive deeper into things like butchering or knife skills.

      I have no doubt that my new education will make its way into this blog :) Happy cooking!

  12. [...] addition to the culinary education choices in the Bay Area. You can read about my fellow blogger Stephanie‘s experience of the professional culinary program, which she [...]

Leave a Reply