1788 Garnet Ave.
"It's just a cooking school for the curious home chef that wants to improve their skills," explains Alison Sherwood, director of Pacific Beach's Great News Cooking School. Located in a strip mall on Garnet Avenue, Great News has been teaching people to cook for 10 years, imparting a range of techniques, starting with the most basic.
It starts with the basic of boiling water," says Sherwood, "Making pasta, making a couple of pasta sauces, steaming a fish. And then the next class is a grilling class, then the next is a braising class-it's a series of five classes-the last one is a sauce class."
Take all five classes and you're ready to move up the gourmet ladder.
More than a cooking school, Great News is also a retail store dealing in high-end cookware, kitchen tools and gourmet ingredients. As you might expect, all of the classroom kitchen equipment is sold there.
"The cooking school is a great place to learn cooking. It's [also] a marketing tool for the retail store," says Sherwood candidly. "It's like a showcase for all the products that we sell." Great News gives students a 10-percent discount for the duration of the class, so it's not surprising to see students returning from the break with bags of merchandise.
A cynic would assume the classes exist solely to push product, but the fact is that the teachers are highly qualified-either instructors who teach at local cooking schools, out-of-town guest instructors or executive chefs from local restaurants sharing their secret recipes.
Great News' classes have included trips to 99 Ranch market to learn Asian cooking ingredients, basic knife skills, a sushi class taught by the Sushi For Dummies author, pre-prepared comfort foods and baking basics. I attended the latter two classes to get a feel for what the school is like.
Having a fair amount of kitchen experience under my belt, the comfort foods class wasn't really for me. I found the recipes and techniques a bit too basic for my skill level, but it would be a good class for those new to cooking.
The baking class, on the other hand, was right up my alley. Not having spent much time baking, and having had my share of baking disasters, it was great to see an expert demonstrate techniques necessary for making flaky pie crust and tarts using a methodical step-by-step approach, something that can be hard to learn from a book.
Classes cost roughly $45 per person and include samples of the food prepared. Some of the classes, such as the 99 Ranch shopping trip, will sell out, so it's a good idea to plan ahead. Weekday classes are offered both in the evening and during the day, and there are weekend classes, as well.