Cooking at Kitchen on Fire

Carmen and I have reached the point in our lives where buying stuff for each other at Christmas is kind of superfluous. Stuff we need, we already buy, and stuff we don’t need aren’t the greatest gifts. What’s really valuable is the time we spend together. Toward that end, my wife Carmen used her own creativity, and signed us both up for a cooking class at Kitchen on Fire, a little place next to Chez Pannisse in Berkeley.

From their website:

Founded in 2005 by seasoned restaurateur and author Olivier Said of Cesar and popular chef instructor and caterer Chef MikeC.of Party Lifestyle, Kitchen on Fire® is located in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. Kitchen on Fire® is located in the Epicurious Garden which is an expansion and continuation of the gourmet cuisine legacy started by Alice Waters at Chez Panisse more than 30 years ago. Our classes offer a range of real skills for entertaining from learning how to throw a party on a budget to uncovering the mysteries of baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie. We also offer kitchen design consulting, corporate teambuilding workshops, in-home classes, classes for kids , private parties and events.

Our class was entitled “A Chef’s New Years Feast”, and included:

  • Spinach and Smoked Salmon Salad with Soft Cooked Egg, Radish, and Lemon Dill Dressing
  • Winter Vegetable Tarte Tatin
  • Truffled Three Cheese and Seasonal Mushroom Cheese Gratin
  • Maple Glazed Ham with Root Vegetable Puree
  • Spiced Poached Pears With Almond Brittle

The class was three hours, with the first spent just discussing the menu, and the last two hours spent prepping and eating the food. Each of the dishes was just a little bit more elegant than the version that I would attempt. I’ve done salmon and spinach salad, but typically don’t make my own dressing from scratch. Their vegetable Tarte Tatin was very similar to the ratatouille that I’ve made a few times, but over puff pastry dough. The gratin is dressed up mac and cheese (very tasty). The ham was cooked over a bed of apples, tangerines and oranges, and was scented nicely from the fruit. And the poached pears were awesome, served with a little almond brittle, some pomegranate molasses and a scoop of vanilla gelato.

We had a great time. The class wasn’t intimidating at all, and the resulting dishes were delish. We’ll probably go back for another class sometime in the future.

Here are some camera phone pics: