SF’s Mission will have seven cooking schools

The Civic Kitchen, 2961 Mission Street. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Soon, the Mission will have seven cooking schools for the amateur chef. Civic Kitchen, co-founded by chefs and entrepreneurs Jen Nurse and Chris Bonomo, will take over at 2961 Mission St. Classes will start on Jan. 13 and there will be an open house for the community on Sunday, January 21 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, Chef Dan Mills’ Tinker Kitchen is scheduled to open Jan. 15 near the corner of 22nd and Mission at 3233 22nd St.

Still five other kitchens — La Cocina, The Cheese School, Thai Cooking, Young Urban Modern (Y.U.M.) Chefs and 18 Reasons — have kept the flames going in the Mission for more than a decade.

Mission Local spoke with the seven different kitchens to learn what each brings to the table.

Civic Kitchen. Opening 2018:

Nurse, a former baker, and Bonomo, a “finance guy,” have turned an empty office space on Mission Street into a cooking school geared toward home cooks.

The kitchen was scheduled to open last fall, but hit a snag in plans because of pesky ductwork.

“We did a complete gut of the space,” Nurse said. “Taking a building that was closed off to the community and remodeling it.”

The space will feature the equipment of a commercial kitchen, but with an emphasis of the home cook. A 20-foot bookcase will be filled with cookbooks and references for cooks to learn from.

Classes begin Saturday, Jan. 13 and prices range from $25 to $145.

Tinker Kitchen, Opening in 2018:

Walking past 3233 22nd St., you will hear loud classic rock and a Spanish-speaking Latino man humming the tunes to himself while he sweeps the floors of what will soon be Tinker Kitchen.

The walls are still halfway coated, and the space is filled with bubble-wrapped kitchen supplies. The Latino man, Ricardo, says he’s working as fast as he can to open up the Mission’s newest cooking school by Jan. 15 — a date set by Chef Dan Mills, a former techie turned foodie.

Mills imagines it will be a place where people make use of the high-end kitchen equipment and discover cooking on their own. Tinker Kitchen lets would-be cooks use the space $25 per day, or $125 per month.

La Cocina, Relaunched in 2005:

In English, “La Cocina” simply means “The Kitchen.” But La Cocina has an incubator program like few others in the Bay Area. The program is designed specifically for startup food businesses owned by women, especially immigrant women and women of color.

“In 2005, it was already clear that gentrification would push residents and businesses out of the Mission, without creating economic opportunity for the residents who had already given so much to their community,” said Caleb Zigas, Executive Director of La Cocina.

La Cocina has an intensive application process for applicants to the incubator program. First, they have to be low-, or very-low-income entrepreneurs as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Second, they must have a feasible business plan for their startup. Once accepted, they go through a year-long incubation process where they receive technical assistance in establishing their business.

La Cocina is having its first orientation of the year on Jan. 31 for women interested in applying to the incubation program.

18 Reasons, Remodeled in 2007:

Maybe you don’t remember the 17 Reasons Why! billboard, which towered over Mission Street before it was removed in 2002. To honor the fallen icon, Sam Mogannam, then the owner of Bi-Rate Market, named his kitchen 18 Reasons.

Since then, 18 Reasons has undergone many other changes, most recently partnering with Sarah Nelson’s Cooking Matters, a nonprofit that teaches free cooking and nutrition classes to more than 3,000 low-income families each year. Through a six-week-long series, low-income kids, parents and families throughout the Bay Area are taught how to shop for, and cook, healthy meals on a budget.

“Our goal is to get people excited to cook more at home, and teach them about home cooking from around the world,” Nelson said. “We do not try to turn our students into professional chefs, but rather passionate home cooks.”

18 Reasons offers plenty of classes: you can learn a number of new tricks, such as the basics of knife skills and the art of Shizen-Saibai on 27 out of the 31 days in January.

On the last Wednesday of every month, you can enjoy a communal dinner for $15 with about 80 fellow community members.

Thai Cooking with Sunshine, Opened in 2012:

Ranida Thammarin, who’s the youngest of five sisters, moved to the United States 12 years ago from Thailand, where she worked in finance. She moved to San Francisco to get a master’s degree, then planned to move back. Instead, three years later, she met her future husband, who gave her the endearing nickname, “Sunshine.”

Located at 439 Guerrero St., Thai Cooking with Sunshine occupies a space that used to be a church. Now, it’s where Thammarin teaches Mission residents how to cook a Thai dish and offers dancing lessons after dinner.

“My class is not about cooking as I had learned from my experience teaching more than 6,000 people,” Thammarin said. “Some people, they just came without interest in cooking, but in meeting people.”

Thammarin has degrees from Mahidol University, San Francisco State and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she learned pastry making. But it’s her classes on ballroom dancing that give Thai Cooking a unique story.

Thai Cooking offers 12 classes this month at $89 each — all focused on learning a different Thai dish.

Young Urban Modern (Y.U.M.) Chefs, Opened in 2012:

YUM Chefs, located at 1335 Guerrero St., brings cooking to kids and young adults inside the Katherine Michiels School.

The school is part of Open Mind, a non-profit focused on the education and development of children. The school teaches year-round classes on healthy and sustainable eating.

The Cheese School, Expanded in 2013:

Kiri Fisher began her career working in magazine publishing. Then, one day, she pondered what it would be like to talk to animals more often than people.

“When it was time to get out of that [magazine publishing] … my calming image was driving through the rainbow tunnel into Sonoma County to hang out with some sheep,” Fisher, Owner of The Cheese School, said.

Fisher began her career in cheesemaking on the retail side of things. But after she spent more time around food, she learned the art of cheese.

The Cheese School offers classes on cheesemaking, pizza making and wine tasting. The Cheese School is one of the most expensive of the Mission’s food schools; its three-day intensive cheese-tasting program costs $1,200.

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