The Guide to East Bay Cooking Classes

Learn how to prepare authentic recipes from global cuisines and experiment with new techniques that you can use at home.


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Photo by Pat Mazzera

Chef Chaya Ryvka


The East Bay is an ethnically diverse place, a melting pot that enthusiastically embraces culinary tricks from afar and cutting-edge nutritional ideas that can add excitement to the mundane notion of nourishment. This month’s guide rounds up 11 impressive places for creative cooking and food craft in the form of classes, workshops, and demonstrations. The dynamic personalities, teachers, and staffs bring their zeal to meal-making, transmitting their experience to wannabe chefs who can carry their traditions and expertise back into their own kitchens.


Go Irish or French

It’s all hands-on cooking at Back to the Table in Lafayette. You’ll do the work as some of the East Bay’s best chefs serve as your guide. Ethnic-themed meals such as the Irish Farmhouse Dinner, the French Picnic, and the Paella Party are class favorites. You can master the basics, from stocks and soups to roasting and braising to pastries and breads in the school’s six-week essentials series. How about a cooking party? Friends and family can choose from any of the more than 200 classes the school offers for a private event. Every class ends back at the table where you enjoy your meal paired with complementary wine or beer while the chefs do the cleanup. Back to the Table, 271 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, 925-284-1120,

—Andrea Firth


Learn the Joys of Ethiopian Cooking

Are you entranced by richly spiced Ethiopian dishes, but mystified as to how to re-create them at home? In three-hour, Saturday classes in Brundo Culinary Studio’s spacious West Oakland warehouse kitchen, a balemoya (traditionally trained Ethiopian chef) will break the spell and explain the cultural significance of spice blends, while providing samples. After demonstrating how to chop a mountain of onions and fry them without using oil, the first step in many Ethiopian dishes, she will divide up the group and supervise as each team prepares a classic favorite, such as messer wot (vegetarian red lentil stew) or doro wot (chicken stewed with red pepper paste). Eaters of all stripes can be accommodated, including vegetarians and omnivores, fans of fiery spice, or those with more timid palates. Class ends with a shared feast of main dishes and salads, eaten by hand with rolls of injera (sour, crepe-like bread), accompanied by honey wine. Brundo Culinary Studio (associated with Oakland’s award-winning Café Colucci Restaurant), 1960 Mandela Parkway, Bay 6, Oakland, 510-601-7999,

 —Anna Mindess


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