Is It Getting Hot in Here?
The classes are definitely not boring at Kitchen on Fire, the new cooking school in Epicurious Garden. The school’s founders, Olivier Said and MikeC., are a young, energetic pair who used to tend bar at Cï¿½sar, the tapas place adjacent to their new school. Jokes fill the demonstrations, and while the instruction is sound, the atmosphere is never serious.
Kitchen on Fire’s lighthearted approach is amplified on Singles Date Night, a cooking class for singles looking to meet someone interesting while learning how to julienne and deglaze. When Diablo visited a singles class, the room was at first awash in wholesome-looking thirtysomething women. “It happens every time,” admits Said with a wince. “More women sign up than men. But we always make sure there’s a balance.” Indeed, as the class’s start time approached, more men trickled in: a late-twenties keyboardist named Matt with long, dark, curly hair and a mellow demeanor; a couple of well-groomed fortysomething men; and a tall fireman in his thirties with dark brown eyes. All are friends or family of the owners, but they are, in fact, single. With the gender ratio in better balance for the straight set, the class got under way.
MikeC. and Said teach recipes in the singles class that would make appropriate wooing food, and the menu has a guiding theme, such as French fare. You might learn to make, for example, Provenï¿½al mussels or a dessert of apple-and-goat-cheese tarts.
After the two instructors demonstrate each recipe, school assistants—energetic Kitchen on Fire groupies who volunteer for the job—head up stations for each recipe being prepared, and students are free to make any dish they like. As each recipe is finished, MikeC. or Said announces the dish and invites students to dig in.
“Last time, things got a little crazy, and we had to kick everybody out and go over to Cï¿½sar and close them down,” says MikeC. True to his prediction, the room was soon a din of students, assistants, and instructors all kibbitzing over green beans and game hens. Although Kitchen on Fire has yet to claim a match made in heaven, our whole gang seemed to enjoy the ride. And sure enough, at class’s end most participants headed next door to Cï¿½sar to drink a nightcap at the communal table.
Kitchen on Fire, 1509 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 548-2665, www.kitchenonfire.com ; Singles Date Night class, $60.