Tag Archives: Kitchen on Fire

Three Squares benefit to help free cooking class program

Three Squares volunteers with Kitchen on Fire chef Olivier Said. Photo: Sarah Nelson
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For the past three years Sarah Nelson has run free cooking classes for low-income families under three different names. While working as a special projects coordinator for the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market she brought the program then known as Operation Frontline to the Bay Area.

That effort, a national initiative sponsored by the nonprofit Share our Strength, changed its name to the more apt Cooking Matters in October 2010. Last August, when Nelson left the farmers’ market, she took the cooking class concept with her and now heads up the non-profit organization Three Squares, which is holding a fundraising brunch at UC Berkeley’s Pauley Ballroom this Sunday.

Name changes aside, the core concept of this program remains the same: six weeks of cooking instruction that focuses on kitchen skills, fresh foods, and meal planning for those in need. Three Squares is a lean operation: in addition to Nelson, 31, the staff includes three AmeriCorps members and relies on 400 volunteers to teach about 15 classes a week in the Bay Area, typically two each week in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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LifeLong Medical Care: Helping community for 36 years

Alison Roberts doing an ultrasound on Kwanjir Pupairoj at Lifelong Medical Care clinic
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The pain in Gordon Loncz’s mouth one Friday afternoon in February was intense. A tooth was so tender that touching it sent spasms through his mouth. The filling had fallen out, leaving Loncz’s root exposed.

It had been three years since Loncz had seen the dentist; his last cleaning had been in 2009 before the state of California cut Medi-Cal funding for dental work. But Loncz, a disabled senior who lives in north Berkeley, knew he had to take action. And he knew where to turn: the dental clinic at LifeLong Medical Care.

For the last 36 years, LifeLong Medical Care has been providing high-quality medical, dental, and other services to Berkeley’s most vulnerable residents. Started by the Gray Panthers as the Over 60 Health Clinic in 1976, LifeLong has now grown into nine different facilities around the Bay Area, with most centered in northern Alameda County. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Closing: Magic Gardens
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VIDEO NO MORE After 22 years in business, Video Maniacs at 1482 University is shuttering its doors at the end of the year. Owner Henry Bhukhan said rentals are half what they were two years ago because of Netflix and online streaming. The closure leaves only two freestanding videos store in Berkeley – Five Star at 1550 University Avenue, and Blockbuster at 2390 Shattuck (near Channing). And, as we reported last month, the latter is scheduled to shut down in 2012 when a branch of Chase Bank takes over the space.

COLD OUT, SPICY IN Yogurt Harmony at 2259 Shattuck Avenue (between Allston Way and Kittredge) has shut its doors. Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen, which “brings the flavor and atmosphere of a New Orleans neighborhood restaurant to downtown Berkeley,” is filing for a permit to expand into the 1,013 sq ft space, which is located next door to its current location. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Kitchen on Fire booms during economic bust

Dishes prepared by Kitchen of Fire. Photo: KoF
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The two self-professed clowns behind Kitchen on Fire, who like to ham it up with kitchen utensils for the camera, are quite serious about their mission: they want to teach people to cook real food for themselves.

Chefs MikeC and Olivier Said launched the Gourmet Ghetto business in 2005, but it really took off during the economic downturn. That’s when a lot of folks realized they couldn’t afford to eat out as often as they wanted, and they set out to learn how to D.I.Y. dinner at home.

For those who lost their jobs, there was both a hunger and a need to learn their way around a kitchen; some hoped they might pick up skills that could lead to employment, and a cooking school seemed like a good place to do that.

Kitchen on Fire classes now regularly sell out. To meet the growing demand, this summer the kitchen classroom will expand to a second location in West Berkeley, which boasts an even bigger space.

The new kitchen will be housed in the Rocket Restaurant Resource supply store, where, this Sunday, Bay Wolf’s Louis Le Gassic and Corso Trattoria‘s Rodrigo Da Silva will battle it out in an Iron Chef culinary contest, part of a fundraiser for Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner.

Earlier this week I met with MikeC, 33, who lives in Central Berkeley, to find out what’s cooking at Kitchen on Fire. … Continue reading »

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Operation Frontline: Teaching the needy to cook in Bay Area communities

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A couple of Saturdays ago, on a gorgeous sunny day when many Berkeleysiders were likely heading out for a hike, contemplating another coffee, or barely out of bed, I stopped by a cooking class taught at Ursula Sherman Village on Harrison Street, a transitional living facility for the  homeless in West Berkeley.

Sponsored by Operation Frontline, a national program that offers cooking classes to low-income families, the class of eager kids and interested adults was the final … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Ben Feldman, Farmers’ Market man

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This weekend, Berkeley’s Saturday farmers’ market reaches its 20th anniversary milestone. Ben Feldman is program manager for the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, a project of the Ecology Center. Previously, Feldman worked as a market manager for the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association.

The 30-year-old lives in Albany with his wife and two young children.

The Tuesday farmers’ market began in 1987 in South Berkeley. Three years later, Saturday’s downtown market started, followed in 2004 by the Thursday market in … Continue reading »

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Nosh

Scouting Berkeley: Kitchen on Fire

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By Kim Weisberg:

I recently attended a cooking class at Kitchen on Fire (motto: “if these two clowns can cook, so can you”). Founded in 2005 by chefs Olivier Said MikeC (pictured), and located at the Epicurious Garden in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, Kitchen on Fire aims to demystify home cooking and entertaining using primarily local and organic ingredients.

My boyfriend and I had planned on rainy evening traffic and ended up arriving a half hour early, so we stepped downstairs to Mint Leaf, where we ordered drinks to take upstairs (the bartender was not fazed by our request, and simply told us to bring the glasses back after class).

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