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 PattersonChef/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 stogy aspic classes, no more salmon en croute, no more ice sculptures. We are living in a global age of cooking.”
Sara DeseranEditor 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 homebase for today’s next generation of chefs to train in San Francisco.
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.
Catherine Pantsios Director of Culinary Arts and Head Chef Instructor
Catherine Pantsios mentored SFCS co-founder Jodi Liano in the late 90s, when she taught the professional cooking program at Tante Marie’s Cooking School. Prior to teaching cooking, 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 for nine years. Most recently, Catherine was the culinary supervisor and test kitchen chef at Ketchum Communications, a PR firm with a broad portfolio of agricultural commodity and ingredient clients.
A career chef and instructor for 25 years, Catherine shares Jodi’s passion and talents for imparting knowledge in the kitchen through teaching and mentoring.
Nicole Plue Director of Pastry Arts and Head 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.
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.
Kirsten Goldberg Chef Instructor, Part Time Culinary Program
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.
Jessica Sullivan Chef Instructor, Baking & Pastry Arts
Jessica Sullivan came to SFCS off a hot career path where she was Executive Pastry Chef for the Delfina Restaurant group and, prior to that, was the Executive Pastry Chef at both Boulevard and Prospect restaurants in San Francisco. Her work at each restaurant was routinely heralded by critics.
Originally from Minneapolis, Jessica is a graduate of the University of Montana and the California Culinary Academy, Jessica has spent her career as a pastry chef in both Portland and San Francisco.
When not teaching at SFCS, Jessica sits on the board of Sprouts Cooking Club where she helps educate young kids about food and cooking.
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, Coi
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 Pastry Chef, Absinthe
Bill Corbett is a nationally lauded pastry chef who has 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. Jui’s
Pastry Chef-Owner, B. Patissiere
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.
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