Culinary School: Change your Career. Follow Your Dream.

Jodi Liano, San Francisco Cooking SchoolToday we’re hearing from our own Jodi Liano. The founder of SF Cooking School, Jodi talks to each and every prospective student, many of whom are looking to culinary school as a way to change direction. As a career changer herself, she knows all about that. Here’s a look into Jodi’s own journey into the culinary world, and how she landed at SFCS.


I had a mid-life crisis. Not the stereotypical one: no fast cars, infidelity, or plastic surgery involved. In fact, to say I was “mid life” is a stretch in and of itself but at the time I was older than I’d ever been, and back then 29 seemed old.

Having worked in tech for eight years, I had a good thing going. The paycheck, great benefits, and an industry that was moving faster than I could possibly imagine were counter-balanced with working 24/7 and having a job that was all encompassing in every way possible. This was fine at first. I’d just finished college and was that student who wanted nothing more than a secure job to start the day after graduation. I threw everything I had into it, got promoted quickly, and really loved what I was doing. I stayed with one company for seven years before I was hired at a start up as the director of advertising. That start up would go on to be one of the biggest companies on the Internet but back in 1997, who knew?

Culinary School: Change your Career. Follow Your Dream. |

Cooking was something I did for myself, my friends, and with my family anytime I had a spare moment. I loved eating out and had subscribed to Bon Appetit and Food & Wine since I learned to read. So, when I took the job at the start up I rewarded myself with a one week cooking vacation with Giuliano Bugialli in Tuscany. By the time I got there I’d already spent six months in my new job. Truth be told, I didn’t love it but I certainly wasn’t looking for any kind of change.

As I sat in this farmhouse, surrounded by late summer produce, I watched Bugialli explain his method for making a perfect Panzanella salad (stale Tuscan bread, sweet ripe tomatoes, torn fresh basil) and a few more items from the garden. The light bulb went off! “Wait,” I thought, “That’s his job — teaching people how to make food? What the hell am I doing in an office?”

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Crostini with Tapenade and Goat Cheese

Crostini with Tapenade and Goat Cheese |

October is the golden month here in San Francisco. The sun is out, the Giants are in the World Series, life is good. This is the month of low-key get-togethers, before the whirlwind of holiday fun comes. Whether it’s a picnic in the park, brunch at home, or an impromptu dinner party, these easy days call for an easy app.

Our Crostini with Tapenade and Goat Cheese fit the bill nicely. A homemade tapenade of Kalamata olives, anchovies, and garlic packs a salty, briny, umami-filled punch, while creamy, mild goat cheese counters those strong flavors to balance it all out.
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Today’s Special: Korean Fried Chicken

Korean Fried Chicken |

If this doesn’t make your mouth water, we don’t know what will. Crispy, meaty, juicy, and messy in the best way possible, this Korean Fried Chicken is coated in an addictive, sweet gochujang-soy glaze and topped with black and white sesame seeds.

Dying to taste it? You’re in luck! It’s one of the fried chicken dishes we’ve got on the docket for our upcoming Killer Fried Chicken class.

Sign up for finger lickin’ goodness:
Killer Fried Chicken (Sat 11/1)

Caramelized Onion and Smoked Gouda Panini

Caramelized Onion and Smoked Gouda Panini |

Yesterday, we promised you that caramelized onions were building blocks for tons of delicious uses – well this is a prime example of how to use them to build a next level sandwich.

Yes, I said sandwich. Cooking doesn’t always have to be a long, fancy, or complicated affair. Often the most satisfying dishes are the simplest ones. Case in point: a killer grilled cheese sandwich.

If French Onion Soup and Grilled Cheese had a love child, this Caramelized Onion and Smoked Gouda Panini would be it! Sweet, caramelized onions with a touch of balsamic meld perfectly with melty, gooey, smoked Gouda to create one satisfying bite.
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How to Caramelize Onions

How to Caramelize Onions |

Properly caramelized onions are just one of those things you can’t rush.

Low and slow, and your patience will be rewarded with umami-rich, well-caramelized onions that are indispensable in their versatility. Use them as a base for French onion soup, or homemade onion dip, or spread some on any burger or sandwich to elevate them to a new level of deliciousness.

Caramelizing onions may take some time, but at least it’s dead simple.
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Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes w/Hazelnuts and Brown Butter

Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes w/Hazelnuts and Brown Butter  |

There’s something magical that happens when you roast vegetables – particularly sweet root vegetables. The natural sugars in the veggies caramelize and develop a wonderful depth of flavor.

Sweet potatoes and parsnips are a perfect candidate for this preparation. The secret to getting that crispy outer layer on them is preheating your baking sheet. The oiled baking sheet gets nice and hot so when the veggies hit the pan, they get an immediate sear.

This side dish is finished off with crunchy toasted hazelnuts, thyme, and luscious brown butter.
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Today’s Special: On the Line

On the Line |

See all those pots and pans lined up? That is not a mirror image. There really are that many things going at the same time on all those burners. And there really are only two badass students working the line.

Timing. Confidence. Skills.

This is what you learn as a culinary student at SFCS.

If that terrifies and excites you at the same time (hopefully skewing towards excitement), let’s talk.

Come to our Open House (Thurs 10/16 or Sunday 10/19) and learn more about SFCS.

Brussels Sprout Slaw with Maple-Glazed Pecans

Brussels Sprout Slaw with Maple-Glazed Pecans |

You know fall is really here when you start seeing beautiful Brussels sprouts stalks at the markets! We adore our Brussels sprouts — we roast them with bacon, make them into lemony chips, or get decadent and cook them au gratin. One of our favorite, lighter ways to enjoy this healthy brassica is in the form of this raw Brussels Sprout Slaw.

The sprouts get thinly shaved and marinated in a strong, acidic dressing of mustard, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice. As we mentioned, Brussels sprouts are a brassica, a genus of plants in the mustard family, so it’s no wonder that they go so well with a strong mustard-heavy dressing. As they say, what grows together goes together!

Maple-glazed pecans bring a sweet nutty crunch to the salad and are so good, you may want to make a second batch just for snacking on later.
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Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms

Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms |

Looking for another chicken dinner dish to add to your repertoire? Try our take on Chicken Cacciatore. Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian, so a meal prepared in the style of a hunter would be rustic and hearty.

In this version, we use mirepoix (carrots, onions, and celery), mushrooms, and tomatoes to create the sauce.

Best of all, you can make it all in one pan.
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How to Make a Pan Sauce without a Recipe

How to Make a Pan Sauce without a Recipe |

A pan sauce is one of the easiest and most versatile sauces you can learn how to make. And once you see how simple and delicious it, making a pan sauce will be like second nature.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Season and sear protein (a cast iron or stainless steel surface works best)
Whether it’s chicken, beef, or pork, regardless of the protein, when you sear it, something called the Maillard reaction happens, which is basically a fancy term for the browning or caramelization that occurs when protein-laden foods cook. All you need to know is Color = Flavor.

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