Thank you Elizabeth Prueitt

Dear Elizabeth Prueitt:
You don’t know me, but I’ve stood in line and enjoyed your pastries at your bakery, Tartine, on 18th & Guerrero enough times to be eager to buy your cookbook.  Now I teach high school students in San Francisco. I told them about your delicious desserts and showed them this book. Both of my classes wanted to make your lemon meringue cake and here is what we found out:
  • Chiffon cake is really fun to make, particularly beating the egg whites separately with a little sugar so that they “poof up into a cloud.”  More than one student wanted to dive into that bowl, it looked so much like a cozy blanket.
  • That caramel layer?  Man, I don’t know what we did, our caramel ended up hard and chewy – and yummy.  We warmed it in a double boiler the next day to soften it, and even though we weren’t completely in on the idea of caramel and lemon, that caramel layer? IT MADE THE CAKE.
  • I’ve never seen so many students smile here as we blow-torched the outer meringue.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for your contributions to the world of desserts and for making your recipes accessible.  I know a few students of mine will now be looking for your shop and will tell their friends when they see your lemon meringue cake, “I made that,” and their voices will be full of pride.
All My Best,
Chef Cravens

It’s A Hood!

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???

Thanksgiving 2009

A school-wide Thanksgiving feast has been a tradition at Ida B. Wells for years.  The kitchen becomes a kitchen again in a different sense and we serve up a classic fare for the student body.   Teachers brought in cooked turkeys, hams, mashed potatoes and salad.

This year, my students contributed a few pies, and did much of the prep work.  While many of them were suspicious of the pumpkin pie we made, there is a magic pride that happens when you see your efforts put on a plate and served to others – and then see them enjoy it.  I had a few students come up to me and say how good it was too.

And this apple pie?  I had to fight people off so those who made it could at least see the results!

Thank you to Mrs. E. & Mrs. J. for carrying the responsibility for this feast for so many years and for sharing those valuable pearls of wisdom into this year. We hope you will be back in full force next year.

Visiting NOPA

Laurence in his kitchen as we work.

One Tuesday at the end of last quarter we were able to visit Laurence at NOPA restaurant for our 5th period afternoon class.  Laurence Jossel, one of the owners of NOPA and Nopalito restaurants, has been a wonderful support to our cooking with teenage youth.  From letting us forage in their walk-in to jumping in over the summer with over thirty interested teens without any warning, he has a magnetic way about him and a contagious passion about food and cooking.
I was amazed as he spent a few hours with us that afternoon in his restaurant as we peeled garlic together for one of the spreads used on pizzas.  Amazed at how much value to cooking that could transpire as the students continually peppered him with questions.  I wish I could have taped the conversation. He made peeling garlic a pleasure and the students loved the fact that we were making something people were going to pay for and enjoy, while a number of NOPA chefs made a point of coming over to admire our work.  Our walk back to the high school was full of that excited talking after a wow experience.  “He is a really nice guy,” was the unanimous refrain.
How do you measure the value of this afternoon?   We know in our hearts that coming together around food is valuable and when we take it this direction, where community and food can connect with working practice, it opens unmeasured doorways in one’s mind.  Thank you Laurence for keeping your door open with a smile.