If you want to see a few moments inside our class, and hear why we do what we do, take a look at Nopalize’s video interview (click on the picture below).
I’m speechless and super thankful.
Thank you Nopalize!
Today’s task before College & Career Day started (which was another success!) was to build a table centerpiece using only the items given to them in a bag. The students only had about 20 minutes. All of the centerpieces were festive and I enjoyed this one in particular, surrounded with each student’s individual wish… World Peace, Opportunity, Creativity, Passion, Tranquility, Teamwork, Mutual Respect… Gourmet Cooking!
May your Holidays and New Year be filled with all of these and more. Wishing you all the very best!
We’ve survived the first week of school, a student tidal wave of nervous excitement in seeing friends and renewed energy to get schoolwork done. But even on that first day, every student who had a summer internship with a restaurant stopped to mention to me how much they valued their experiences – and that they want to do more. That’s pretty amazing given the size and format of our school.
We have many industry people and businesses to thank for their involvement with Heat of the Kitchen and this year, we hope to keep expanding our student interactions with the amazing people in food (and the food itself) that we have in San Francisco. When you eat outside the Bay Area (like I did over the summer) you are reminded of just how lucky we are here.
Here is a quick list of restaurants, organizations and people who have stopped everything to help us, and we don’t want the rush of the new school year to let this get away for a moment more. Look for more in depth reports on these involvements in the future.
NOPA: for always, always being there for us, whether it has been donations to our Long Table Dinner Events, letting us visit and interrupt their busy schedule and supporting our latest student in his job shadow with Anna Lee – and for patience and thinking outside of the box with our garden challenges.
GGRA: for the cookware that still looks like new and works beautifully, for visiting our classes and helping with speakers, for the scholarship opportunities that have been lane changers for our students and for connecting us to restaurants like Pacific Catch & La Mar.
Pacific Catch: for understanding our students before even meeting them and giving them great experiences, from interviews to job shadows.
La Mar: for jumping in 110% with our student intern and supporting him so professionally.
De Young Museum Cafe – for fantastic interview experiences for our students and for going the extra distance with meetings and cookbooks as we prepare to work more together.
BiRite Market Divisadero: for featuring us in their monthly donation and for being so understanding about our calendar of chaos that is school life.
Alexander Ong and Betelenut: for extended interview experiences with our students and your ever present generosity and smile.
We’ve been so lucky to have this kind of involvement, thank you so much! Now to help a new batch of students get themselves ready to work – they are already eager!
We’ve been visiting restaurants this last week, it is something I always put aside as a special perk, until I realize how much value even the briefest time is to our students. Both chefs, Laurence Jossell of NOPA and Alexander Ong of Betelnut, reminded us again of that word: source. Getting the flavor right demands having a connection to the original ingredient, the source. Even to know what a good carrot tastes like, as Laurence puts it, becomes important. And the pairing of flavors at Alex’s restaurant obviously share that sentiment.
The flavor of an ingredient may sound trivial to some, but what we heard was the connection to that flavor. Which made me think even more about the actual process of connecting to what we do.
So much of what we deal with in daily life is surface oriented. Getting to this text, getting to that email (or if you are an educator, there are a host of acronym-filled tasks to choose from) — real connection to our lives, drifts off. We see this in our students when we ask them about planning for their future. In the race to get that diploma, what happens afterwards can become a thought that easily drifts away.
What I love about our class is that our students make a connection to what it feels like to work under pressure, to accomplish a delicious achievement, to connect to a variety of new experiences using all of their senses, from their hands to their tastebuds. They are starting to know what that kind of carrot “tastes like”, and better yet, they can actually begin to describe it in real, working terms. When students get to that source, that connection and value to their potential, then amazing things can happen.
Thank you Laurence and Alex for your generosity! Time to start planning our next Long Table Dinner.
This is so new, many of our students aren’t aware of it, or the amazing potential for all of us to grow and connect. We are looking forward to getting more involved in the weeks ahead. NOPA, we may be speechless in our appreciation at the moment, but get ready for some fun with us in the future! Thank you so much for your efforts!
Thanksgiving Bliss = preparing and serving a Thanksgiving meal to 200 of our closest classmates and teachers, most of whom I have a feeling skipped breakfast. But it was a special moment to watch our Culinary Arts students roll with the last minute changes and crowds of people wondering what was going to happen next. Lately I’ve been noticing this “what will happen next state” as not only the justifiable state of mind of a teenager, but also the state of mind for most of us in today’s world. Adaptability is now more important an attribute to have under one’s belt than ever before. Our Culinary Arts students showed how well they can adapt, and with eagerness.
Some quotes from them as they were serving:
“I want to do this for real”
“I love the smiles from people when you give them something good to eat.”
All that and more. There was a great write up in the San Francisco Chronicle about our program – THANK YOU EVERYONE who helped make that happen! As a result, we are now getting an increased interest in our job shadowing/ internship program from restaurants, hotels and caterers, which is very exciting. Now if only we can adapt as quickly as our students!
|dark caramel flan|
|chicken mole, enchiladas, nopales|
|kuri squash, cauliflower & green bean curry over rice, tomato chutney, naan with zaatar|
|Visiting with NOPA’s Pastry Chef, Amy Brown|
|time for intersession…|
|intersession = 31 hungry & eager students.|
|intersession = delicious: chicken sausage meatloaf, salad, leek & potato soup, banana pudding with home-made vanilla wafers|
It is the last week of classes and our garden at school has been bursting into bloom: poppies, artichokes, cauliflower, chard, parsley, nasturtium. Just in time for the bees in our new beehive to feel welcome.
We picked some of the chard on a rainy Monday, a few edible blossoms, the mint and a few herbs, trying not to strip the plants on one hand or harvest too little to allow everyone to taste on the other.
We headed inside and made some fresh mint tea, delicious! And started another harvest, talking about what worked this year in our Culinary Arts class, and what didn’t work (of course while keeping our hands busy making a filling for empanadas with our harvest). Here are some of the responses:
Curriculum Keeper #1: That meal we cooked last week:
They liked it for its ease and deliciousness (“We could make this at home”). I was stopped for a quick review on the spot, a double-check on how to cook chard this way.
Curriculum Keeper #2: All the pastas, and our housemade chicken sausage that went into the tomato sauce. Extrusion and mortar & pestles are cool. They have been cool for a very, very long time.
Curriculum Keeper #3: Pastel Tres Leches – and this was from those new to this classic but was also chorused by those who already knew this dessert. After our weeks of making desserts for events, I was surprised they chose this easy, refreshingly sweet cake.
And when we got into the don’ts, it was hard to pin down a specific item not to make again. A few students mentioned a recipe that they may not have liked personally, only to find the person next to them loved it. It was great to be able see all the smiles through this – now that we were all speaking with some authority, it remained an enjoyable discussion.
The next day I received a thank you note from one of my students:
Dear Ms. Chef Cravens:
I thank you for your kind help in cooking class. I have discovered that one does not have to be born with a skill to make delicious food. It comes from the love you put in the food – and I built friendship with people I thought I’d never talk to.
Perhaps I’ve received the best harvest of all this year. Have a great summer everyone!
This may not be the most appealing picture to most of you, but it is definitely appealing to us! My students have been patiently upbeat about the way we have been cooking in here, using a rice steamer to boil water and a convection oven to heat pans hot enough to simulate sauteeing. But we all know that those aren’t ways to cook regularly. Thank you, THANK YOU, to all the people who have made it possible to take this next step into real cooking. The students are noticing.
To see our wish list of initial items we need, please click here.
Soon we will be able to use the range and expose students to more “normal” ways to cook which helps in two directions – the timing and understanding of a range for a professional chef in one direction, and how to cook healthier food choices using your stove at home in the other. What will we cook first???