Team building, cooking events, catering, parties, and classes in the San Francisco Bay Area

October-November in the Kitchen

October 14, 2016

Come Play in the Kitchen!

The kitchen sparkles for the holidays, with warm decorations and fairy lights. Come join us for an equally sparkling holiday party — we have lots of choices for you!



We can collaborate with you to design your ideal event, with options ranging all the way from full catering, to you and your group doing all the cooking, and lots of in-between “hybrid” ideas. For instance, we have one party coming in December where we’ll provide the hors d’oeuvres and dinner, but the guests will get to visit a special cookie-baking table, form, bake and decorate several types of delicious cookies, munch on some, and then take a box home as a gift from the host.

As well as tailoring the food, we can also transform our kitchen’s decor, from seated dining for up to 70, to a cocktail party atmosphere with high-boy tables, and room for up to 100 guests. If you want to forget you’re even in a kitchen, we’ll roll the prep tables out of the way, drape the kitchen so you can’t see it, and create the ambience you want.

Whether it’s a cooking party, a cocktail party where you munch and socialize, or a catered and served dinner, we’re your place to enjoy the holidays. Just book early, to get your date!

An added plus: For cooking parties, we also offer the option of making an extra meal for the Emeryville Senior Center, to feed their group for lunch the next day.

In the Meantime…

We still have lots of openings for you early-bird groups that want to get the partying on before the holidays, or for that matter, do some serious culinary team-building, or hold a meeting in a congenial atmosphere with great catering. Or, all of the above!

Besides our usual team cooking events, we have lots of clients who use our kitchen for meetings. It’s a private place that can seat up to 70, with a clean white wall for projecting, and, of course, great food for breakfast and/or lunch. We’ve had groups book the whole day, starting the meeting with freshly brewed coffee and breakfast, taking a lunch break, and then starting to cook an early dinner mid-afternoon, to enjoy before hitting the road. It’s a great opportunity to focus, and then put what you’ve learned to use during the cooking part of the event. Just as we are at the holidays, we can be very flexible in designing an event with you the rest of the year.

How To Book An Event

It's easy! Just click on the Schedule an Event form, fill it out, and we'll get back to you right away. 

Tracy’s Great Article

OK, I know…but I gotta crow. Tracy’s wonderful article on cooking with your children,  in Cook’s Cook blog is pretty impressive, and great advice for moms! Check it out and see if you agree with me.

Classes for Adults — We’ve got lots!

New teacher Kaori Becker has three classes on the schedule, and we’d love to see her get enough people to run them all! Starting with Homemade Udon Noodles on October 19th,  then a Date Night class on Indian Food on October 26th, and finally, Mastering Japanese Hot Pots on November 9th. 

Rosetta Costantino will be back in the kitchen after leading two tours of Italy, to give you a great primer on pasta making October 21st, with Homemade Pasta from Calabria, her home region. Fall in Southern Italy is a Saturday class, on November 5th, and takes advantage of the produce you’ll find in the market. A night of Pizza making will thrill you on November 18th, and amazingly, there is still space in Christmas Eve in Calabria, her 13 course feast, December 3rd.  Last, but far from least, on Sunday, December 18th Rosetta will run a workshop on Holiday Desserts from Southern Italy.

Need to sharpen your knives for all the holiday chopping and carving? Want to gift someone else with the skill to sharpen their own knives? Eric E. Weiss, our intrepid sharpener and teacher, will host his quarterly Knife Sharpening class on Monday, November 7th.  A lifetime of experience sharpening by hand, and over 40 classes at the kitchen teaching small groups the skill, makes this a class I highly recommend.

In the Market

Grab your pluots and figs while you can, and stock up on some berries before they are gone. With the days shorter, and rain starting, there will be some serious shifts in availability. We are moving towards a wintery palette of flavors, as summer squash gives way to winter varieties, cold weather enhances the flavor of hearty greens like collard and kale, and apples, pears, persimmons and pomegranates replace our summer fruit. If you have tomatoes in the garden, you may soon need to make some fried green tomatoes, or risk having them rot before they ripen. I’ve seen Brussels sprouts already, and highly recommend buying ‘on the stalk’ as they keep very well, and will be far sweeter than buying them snapped off in a bag. Lots of great potatoes, plenty of cabbage, carrots, celery, rutabaga, parsnips, celeriac, kolrabi — the season for soups and stews is upon us, for sure. In our kitchen garden, it’s time to tear out the cucumber vines and basil, and plant for the winter. If you have even a little garden plot, as long as it’s well drained, you can put in wintery herbs, quick-growing radishes (what’s more rewarding than pulling them up after only a few weeks, and enjoying the crunchy fresh bite?). The nut harvests are in, and chestnuts are also beginning to show up. And, the summer fruit has been dried and is on display at many of the stands.  One final favorite fruit of the season: Quince. Never had it? You’re missing out! This is supposed to be (so I hear) the ‘apple’ from the garden of Eden…but we’ll never know for sure. Grown on a thorny bush, it is ripe now and in the market — maybe not the farmers market, but certainly stores like Berkeley Bowl — and you may want to check out my recipe of the month to see what to do with it. One thing for sure, don’t try to eat it raw. Quince must be cooked to be palatable. If you’ve ever enjoyed membrillo, that’s a paste of quince — available to buy at most cheese counters, and wonderful, especially with manchego, it’s classic Spanish pairing.

Holiday Gifts

These days, you can find recipes for just about anything if you hunt online. Nothing is better, as a gift, than something you’ve made yourself, so that's the direction I've headed in this year. I will probably make something with nuts, as well as two versions of Mostarda. This Italian condiment is often made with dried fruit, and I'm finding it is also a wonderful condiment made with fresh varieties — or a combo for that matter. It's a magical accompaniment to dress up a cheese platter, plus great with salumi or fois gras torchon (Yeah, we can get it in CA again!) — I made a little from my figs, which were not the best crop this year, but I got enough to make a few half-pint jars.  I’ve decided to try making some with the delicious pluots I got at Saturday’s market, too. If it works, I only hope there are more in the market after this rain. These products require you to can, meaning, jar it up properly in sterile jars, and then boil for 15 minutes. Because there is so much acid (vinegar) they are quite safe. They are a bit of magic to pull out of the cupboard for serving guests, and you can get nice small canning jars, label them, and even, if you want, send your own list of compatible cheeses and other savories as part of the package. Just keep some for yourself, too. You'll love it!

I bought strawberries to make some quick jam, too, and will add that as a Quick Bites recipe — made easily in the microwave, believe it or not — in a day or two, after I've made and photographed it.

The News Archives have all my newsletters from years past, and it's worth it, if you're hunting for some less expensive gifts to buy, to check back through them. 

Recipe of the Month

Simple sweets make me very happy at the end of a meal. I always love some fruit element, and quince gives you a fantastic one. Inedible raw, it cooks up like magic with some water and sugar and lemon peel to a pale pink, succulent translucent beauty. Once poached, it can be served with ice cream, in a tart shell, on top of a simple cake (gingerbread with quince is awesome!).  Here’s the basics, and then you can figure out a direction to take it. Yes, it’s simple. But like many simple things, the reward is great!