Sometimes things just present themselves to you with such force that to deny them would be futile, if not plain stupid and short sighted. I found myself in that position a few months ago when my husband opened the Artisan Baking Center inside their bakery distribution company warehouse in Petaluma. The space is big, gleaming and brand spanking new. The first time I walked into that room it cried out to me - dirty me up! Splatter oil and slice onions and spill on my butcher block counters. While I may have never taught a cooking class before, I certainly know how to muck up a kitchen a bit and breath some life into it.
The Artisan Baking Center was built to be a R&D workshop for Central Milling and their customers. In times when the space is not used for that it hosts professional baking classes taught by some of the best teachers around, including Craig Ponsford and Peter Reinhart. Lucky me because right next door to that huge space is the lovely room mentioned and pictured above, perfect for small cooking and home baking classes. Two weeks ago I broke it in, and man did I have more fun than I ever would have expected.
We cranked up the tunes, poured wine and just cooked together. I was able to answer all kinds of questions, from simple to more complex depending on the student's knowledge base. I was taken aback by everyone's enthusiasm, and by how much fun it was for me to share what I have learned over the years. After a few hours of making sauces, roasting vegetables and grilling lamb chops, we sat down for a huge feast. Honestly, you could have fooled me that I didn't cook all of the food myself. That felt like the biggest accomplishment of all, my recipes worked (mostly) and the team excelled in adjusting the flavors to really nail it.
I have just launched a culinary program of four classes over the next month and a half, with topics ranging from what do to with those bits of bread lying around the house, dubbed The Baker's Wife, to a tamale making workshop co-taught by my friend Karina Carillo. The classes are capped at ten students for a uniquely intimate classroom experience. I hope to see many new faces to share in the joy this new space aims to bring to the North Bay.