Our (Awesome & Fabulous) Instructors

In case it's not obvious, UKSF LOVES their instructors. What about our instructors is so awesome and fabulous, you may ask? Let us count the ways...

Our (awesome and fabulous) instructors are:
  1. Experts devoted to their craft. 
  2. Great teachers. When you love what you do, you love to share it. 
  3. Committed to our need-blind mission of bringing Slow Food - themed classes to the public. 
What does this mean? Well, every UKSF instructor is on board with our policy of making classes as affordable as possible. This means we keep costs low and we don't limit the number of sliding scale participants we have in our classes. Our one exception is butchery, since the supply costs tend to be quite high - but we're working it. To date, though, no one has been turned away for lack of funds, and that typically means that our instructors' stipends are reduced as a result. 

So yeah, it's cool that they're cool with it. 

They're also interesting, witty, and good-looking, with a great sense of humor. And they love long walks on the beach at sunset. (Hey, that sounds like me!

So, without further ado, allow us to introduce our (awesome and fabulous) instructors, past and present. Troll our past classes page if you'd like to learn more about their work with UKSF - and see some great action shots. And if you happen to run into one of them, tell them that Urban Kitchen sent you! 

Vanessa Barrington, Cookbook Author & Fermentation Queen

Vanessa is a food writer and cookbook author based in Oakland. She is the author of the newly released DIY Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food From Scratch (Chronicle Books, Fall 2010) and coauthor of Heirloom Beans (Chronicle Books, 2008). She works as a consultant with HavenB Media on food, agriculture, and environmental issues. She also blogs about food policy and healthy cooking for EcoSalon.com and CivilEats.com. For recipes and current food writing go to Vanessabarrington.com.

Leslie Bennett and Patrick Rodysill, of Garden Fare

Garden Fare's focus is helping people to grow their own food in a way that is visually appealing, allowing them to replace traditional ornamental gardens and grass lawns. They provide consultation services as well as installation, maintenance and harvesting services - specializing in high-yield plantings for smaller spaces. In the past, Garden Fare's taught great classes in container gardening, traveling all the way from the Sierra Foothills to do so! 

Dave the Butcher, a.k.a. UKSF's Favorite Butcher

David Budworth, aka "Dave the Butcher," has been a butcher in the San Francisco bay area since 1989. He learned his trade over the years at traditional butcher shops such as Ver Brugge Foods in Oakland and Shoppers Corner in Santa Cruz. For the last 2 years David has been the Manager of Marina Meats. He's also been the house butcher at Avedanos Holly Park Market. In his spare time he teaches butchery classes, as well as putting on butchery events / demos around the Bay Area. Dave is a big proponent of responsible, humane, and sustainable animal husbandry.

Cheryl Burr, of Pinkie's Bakery

Teach sourdough in two hours? Make every component hands on? Sounds impossible, but Cheryl did it, and she did it with style and impeccable precision. But Cheryl is much more than a bread baker. With a passion for nostalgia and sweets, Cheryl brings whimsy and comfort into her signature breads and desserts at Pinkie’s Bakery. Pinkie’s Bakery is the culmination of Cheryl’s ambition and creativity. She has been making wedding cakes and specialty cakes since beginning her career in pastry in 2001 and is thrilled to have her own space to do it full time. Cheryl lives in San Francisco with her husband, Scott and Rottweiler, Henry.

Todd and Jordan Champagne, of Happy Girl Kitchen Co.

HGK is simply the best. They first teamed up with UKSF back in July '09 for our Pickling Party on the Pier (check out the MindfulCast podcast of the event, here). Since then, they've taught all manner of fermentation and preservation classes with us. They also host a series of more in-depth seminars in their Oakland and Santa Cruz locations. HGK's founders, Todd and Jordan bonded over a summer farming in Norway. Next came love, then came marriage ... you get the point. HGK is committed to their working relationships with the local, organic community. They have developed simple recipes and techniques so the good life of the central coast of California can be tasted in each bite!

Joshua Clever, Chef & Pesto Pro

Interested in pesto? Joshua's your man. He is a certified Natural Chef who fell in love with simple nutritional food while living in France, where he discovered the art of shopping at farmers’ markets and the value of eating seasonal, locally produced foods. He is the author of Pesto: Simples et Bons. When he is not leading culinary tours and cooking workshops in Paris, Tuscany or the Bay Area, Joshua can be found chronicling his culinary adventures in coffee shops around San Francisco.

Eric Denman, of Mission Gastroclub

Eric Denman has been brewing for over 7 years...he started with a 2 gallon "Mr. Beer" kit in college and has steadily improved his brewing setup to his current 10 gallon, all-grain setup.  He enjoys crafting new recipes and pushing existing style guidelines to create interesting and delicious brews.  He uses most of his homebrew to fuel the pairings of his beer dinner group: Mission Gastroclub.

Travis Flood, Chef & All-Around Mozz & Ricotta Guru

Travis is our Resident Cheese God. His formal training began at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. After graduation in 2002, he worked at the Black Cat and then at the Fifth Floor, under Chef Laurent Gras, whom he credits as a mentor. Learning the intricacies of management, sauces, butchery, and exotic fish and game preparation, Travis was able to master all aspects of a successful working kitchen. In 2004, Travis traded the professional kitchen for the home kitchen when he became the private chef to Peter Thiel, creator of PayPal and CEO of Clarium Capital. For the next two and a half years, Travis created delicious, health conscious menus for all of Mr. Thiel’s personal and business meals. In 2007, under the desire to return to the pace, demands and thrills of a restaurant, Travis left Mr. Thiel and became the executive chef at the famous North Beach restaurant, Moose’s, during its final year of service. The timing was just right when Moose’s unfortunately closed for Travis to return to his mentor in Chicago in the spring of 2008, where Chef Laurent was opening L20. In the summer of 2008, Travis returned to his home of San Francisco, when he picked up the reigns at Piccolo Teatro. 

Robert MacKimmie, of City Bees

Robert MacKimmie of citybees.com has been an apiarist for 14 years and has been fermenting wine, mead and ale for nearly two decades. He utilizes natural beekeeping methods and provides great attention to his bees in order to produce exquisite microclimate honeys from individual San Francisco neighborhoods. He suggests equally high standards when producing fermented beverages of all varieties.

Joshua Muscat, of the SF Botanical Medicine Clinic

Joshua is the Original Urban Kitchen Instructor, teaching our first class - Kombucha! - back in June of '09. Joshua has over 16 years of experience in clinical practice, and he has been formally studying herbal medicine for the past seven years. Joshua's education in the art of herbalism includes studies at the Pacific School of Herbal Medicine, studies with Chuck Garcia (a Curendero), studies with Herbalist Karyn Sanders, studies at the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine, several college courses on subjects such as anatomy physiology nutrition and botany, independent studies in whatever subject seems applicable, and much time spent sitting with the plants themselves. The SF Botanical Medicine Clinic is a San Francisco based organization devoted to providing affordable and effective health care through the modality of western herbal medicine, as well as being an information resource for people interested in the use of botanical agents as medicine.

James Stolich, of Cook with James

James makes a mean stock. He launched CookWithJames last year, after leaving the digital advertising world. James specializes in regional Italian and Spanish dishes using the best organic ingredients from local farms. His services include catering, small private sit-down dinners & cooking class dinners. James lived in Italy and Spain for several years where he developed his love and passion for these country’s cuisines. He also did an unpaid stint at Quince Restaurant in San Francisco in 2004 to further hone his cooking skills.

John Tormey, Chef & King of Gnocchi

John is our pasta & gnocchi man. A New York City native, he's been in kitchens since 1987. He got his professional start at Mesa Grill in '88. In the Bay Area, he's worked as a sous chef for Mccormick and Kuletos, sous chef and production manager for Mecca, and chef de cuisine and private dining chef for Scalas/ the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. 

Minh Tsai, of Hodo Soy Beanery

Minh is the Founder of Hodo Soy Beanery and Tofu Master. His passion for freshly made tofu is palpable - he started Hodo Soy Beanery with the simple goal of making great tofu and yuba.  Minh was inspired by what he couldn't find: fresh tofu, made with care, in all of its variety.  In 2004, he started selling his organic tofu at a local farmers' market.  Over the years, Hodo has added market locations and chefs have brought them into their restaurants and onto their menus.  In 2009, Hodo opened The Beanery, their new home in Oakland.

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