San Francisco Cooking School is the anchored institution for culinary and pastry arts education in San Francisco.
At the core, SFCS offers career-training Certificate Programs, in Culinary or Pastry & Baking Arts, designed to prepare aspiring food professionals to jump-start their new careers after six intense months (or twelve if enrolled part-time). Our programs are contemporary, relevant and driven by an eclectic and evolving lens relevant to what’s happening in restaurants and bakeries right now across the globe.
In addition, SFCS also offers home cooks the largest program of recreational cooking classes on the West Coast for cooks at all levels.
“The best thing a culinary school can do is to train their students to be smart cooks.”
Daniel Patterson Chef/Owner, Daniel Patterson Group
Dean, San Francisco Cooking School
San Francisco Cooking School was founded in 2012 by Jodi Liano in response to chefs who were underwhelmed with the graduates being churned out of culinary schools. Most chefs complained that students were “recipe robots” who “were not prepared to work in a commercial kitchen”. Many chefs even went on record saying that young cooks should skip culinary school altogether.
With the help of notable working chefs who signed on as Deans and Advisors, SFCS developed an updated contemporary curriculum designed to restore integrity of professional food training.
The resulting Certificate Programs are distinguished by offering an attentive private school experience with no more than 14 students enrolled in a class, and a contemporary and relevant curriculum that is entirely hands-on. Classes are taught in a state-of-the-art kitchen where students learn and cook in a fast-paced commercial environment, just like a restaurant.
“San Francisco Cooking School fulfills a critical need for a modern-day curriculum that reflects how the best chefs cook, in America and San Francisco.
No more stodgy aspic classes, no more salmon en croute, no more ice sculptures. We are living in a global age of cooking.”
Sara Deseran Editor at Large, San Francisco Magazine
In addition to career-training, SFCS offers the largest program of hands-on recreational cooking classes in the Bay Area. Classes are offered to home cooks of all levels year-round in our 5,200 sq ft. facility centrally located in the Civic Center neighborhood of San Francisco.
The building which houses our campus at 690 Van Ness Avenue was erected in 1910 and stands as one of the earliest auto showrooms on the historic “auto row”. In 1988, chef Jeremiah Tower transformed the building into a restaurant as his follow up to the legendary Stars, and named it Speedo 690 in homage to the building’s previous tenant, Speedo Carburetor Shop. Along with Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck, Jeremiah Tower is widely recognized as a founding partner of “California Cuisine”, so the building’s food history makes it a natural home base for today’s next generation of chefs to train in San Francisco.
Robin Rodriguez Chef Instructor, Pastry Arts
A graduate of the Tante Marie Part-time Pastry Certificate program, Robin Rodriguez began her career at the Palo Alto Baking Company as a cake decorator. She then transitioned into the fast-paced restaurant world at Hawthorne Lane in San Francisco under the guidance of Pastry Chef Nicole Plue.
With a desire to further her knowledge, she continued to work alongside other top local chefs like Emily Lucchetti of Farallon, Nancy Oakes of Boulevard and Heidi Krahling of Insalata’s. She has spent the last ten of her 22 years of pastry experience leading the pastry team at Paula Le Duc Fine Catering and Events for Executive Pastry Chef Marilyne Mitani.
Robin is a seasoned professional who is passionate about sharing the knowledge and techniques she has acquired over the years. She believes that hard work, attention to detail and a strong grasp on the fundamental elements of baking and pastry are the keys to a successful career. Her goal is to give students the confidence to find their place in the culinary world and to love it as much as she does!
Jodi Liano School Director and Recreational Instructor
Prior to founding SFCS, Jodi Liano spent 15 years as an instructor at Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco. She is also a veteran of food media with experience ranging from working the kitchens of the Food Network in New York to recipe development for Bon Appetit magazine to writing multiple cookbooks for Williams-Sonoma, including the popular COOKING FROM THE FARMER’S MARKET.
As a former recruiting executive, Jodi made a career-switch into food and is thrilled to be realizing her dream of operating a cooking school in San Francisco. Having made her own decision to “go back to school” and become a culinary student, she understands what drives the career-changer to explore the world of food. The demanding and challenging educational experience at SFCS readies students for today’s food business, and Jodi is constantly motivated to keep the programs relevant and engaging.
Kirsten Goldberg Director of Culinary Arts and Chef Instructor
Growing up in the Bay Area, Kirsten was exposed to an extraordinary array of foods. This early exposure instilled in her a great curiosity and passion for regional cuisines, food sources, and culinary arts.
In 1998, Kirsten studied cooking under the tutelage of Catherine Pantsios before working in restaurants such as Mario Batali’s famous Babbo in New York’s West Village and Nancy Oaks’ Boulevard in San Francisco. Kirsten has worked in restaurant kitchens in Europe and traveled extensively in Southeast Asia where she took cooking courses and spent as much time as possible in the food markets of every city she visited. Kirsten has been an instructor at San Francisco Cooking School since it opened, and has also managed a thriving Bay Area personal chef and catering business.
Nicole Plue Director of Pastry Arts and Chef Instructor
Los Angeles native Nicole Plue began her restaurant career in San Francisco where she led the celebrated bread program at Hawthorne Lane before jumping coasts to New York when Danny Meyer recruited her to be the pastry chef on the opening team at Eleven Madison Park. While on the East Coast, Nicole also opened Terence Conran’s Guastavino’s and was tapped by Martha Stewart to develop recipes for the pastry and baking segments for Martha Stewart Living Television.
In addition to her 2010 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef, Nicole’s accolades include being named Pastry Chef of the Year 1997 by San Francisco Magazine and Rising Star Chef by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Nicole brings formidable experience and contemporary knowledge of today’s world of pastry into the classroom.
Marc Baltes Chef Instructor, Culinary Arts
Marc graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, then was so impressed with the food on a visit to San Francisco that he decided to make it his home. He worked in the kitchens of Zuni Café, Quince and Pizzaiolo, then became head chef of Boot and Shoe Service in 2011, a position he held until 2017 when he joined SFCS full time as a chef instructor.
Catherine Pantsios Culinary Arts Director Emeritus
Catherine Pantsios is the founding director of the culinary arts program at San Francisco Cooking School. A 30 year veteran of the industry, Catherine was instrumental in pushing forward the farm to table movement in northern California.
Catherine developed her extensive culinary knowledge over many years in restaurant kitchens, including Zuni Café, Hayes Street Grill, the Ritz Carlton in Chicago, and the Quilted Giraffe in New York. She was also chef and co-owner of the critically acclaimed Zola’s Restaurant in San Francisco,
While Catherine retired from our teaching kitchen at the end of 2017, she remains involved in ongoing curriculum development and makes regular appearances as a valued guest instructor.
David Groff Lead Recreational Cooking Instructor
David Groff wears many hats teaching and managing the vast program of recreational cooking classes offered at SFCS. After leaving a corporate sales career behind to attend culinary school, David’s foray into food led him to notable San Francisco kitchens such as Zuni Cafe and Gioia, as well as work as a personal chef and cooking teacher before joining the opening team at SFCS.
David’s food knowledge and passion for teaching is continually rewarded with unwavering loyalty and praise from his students.
Craig Stoll Chef-Owner, Delfina
Craig Stoll has been the chef/owner of the Delfina Restaurant group since 1998. He combines his love for Italian cuisine, fostered in the early years of his career, with the best that the Bay Area has to offer, creating restaurants that offer not only exceptional food but a true sense of place.
Craig was named Best Chef: Pacific and Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation, as well as Best New Chef by Food & Wine. Never one to rest on his laurels, Craig is consistently focused on ensuring that the next generation of cooks is being trained to really understand the ways of the kitchen. In his regular appearances in the SFCS kitchens he tells students that while the kitchen is “hot and hard”, there are things to learn everywhere you look. Craig is a stellar example of a chef who never stops learning.
Daniel Patterson Chef-Owner, Daniel Patterson Group
Daniel Patterson exemplifies the modern version of California Cuisine. Having nurtured the careers of the some of the Bay Area’s best chefs at his restaurant Coi, Daniel is driven by pursuing the how and why behind how things work in a kitchen. He is intensely curious and uses this curiosity to continually be learning and teaching others.
Having been named Best New Chef by Food & Wine, Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, and Chef of the Year by San Francisco Magazine, Daniel never stops striving for more. He recently opened several outposts of Locol with Los Angeles chef, Roy Choi, where his fine dining roots transform into creating wholesome ”fast food” in underserved areas of California.
Bill Corbett Executive Chef, Salesforce.com
Bill Corbett is a nationally lauded pastry chef who, prior to becoming Executive Chef for Salesforce.com, spent his career as the executive pastry chef of the Absinthe group, pastry chef at two Michelin-starred Coi, and pastry chef at Michael Mina. Bill was named San Francisco Magazine’s Best Pastry Chef in 2011.
Having worked with some incredible mentors, such as Lincoln Carson, Sam Mason, and Daniel Patterson helped Bill develop his own inclination to constantly be teaching young cooks. His patience combined with his vast knowledge makes him an exemplary pastry chef who has built a reputation for training some of the best up and coming pastry cooks in the business.
Board of Advisors
Chef-Owner State Bird Provisions & The Progress
Executive Pastry Chef, Michael Mina Group
Editor-at-Large, San Francisco Magazine
Chef, 25 Lusk
Chef-Owner, 4505 Meats
Chef-Owner, Mr. Jiu’s
Pastry Chef-Owner, B. Patisserie
Kitchen Science Writer
Chef-Owner, Frances & Octavia
Chef-Owner, Craftsman and Wolves
What type of student attends San Francisco Cooking School?
Passionate, talented, curious individuals who pursue a variety of different food careers. Here’s a small sampling of who they are and what they did after graduation.
San Francisco Cooking School is centrally located in the Civic Center neighborhood of San Francisco.
- Six Blocks from BART (Civic Center Station)
- Multiple Bus Lines (2,3,5,19,21, 47,49)
- Easy Street Parking & Two Garages Available.
Now Accepting Applications
Enrollment is Open for Full-Time and Part-Time Certificate Programs.
Fill out the form to request admissions information.