Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 12:05 pm | Partly Cloudy 69º


Paul Burri: Learning to Cook, Part II (If You’re Allowed In the Kitchen)

Group classes serve as a great way to beef up skills in the kitchen

[Noozhawk’s note: This is the second in a two-part series. Click here for the first part.]

When I found myself living the life of a single man after my divorce, I resolved to learn how to cook.

I have a good friend who says, “If you can read, you can cook.” That’s not quite true because every cookbook and many recipes use all sorts of arcane terms that can cause even the bravest man to hesitate. Yes, I know how to separate an egg, but what is ghee, what does it mean to clarify butter, what are soft peaks and how do you bake blind?

So at that same friend’s suggestion, I joined her in attending several cooking classes at a local junior college. This turned out not to be a demonstration class where you sit in class and watch the cook/instructor do everything. No, this was a class of about 20 students in a classroom divided into five kitchens — four students to a kitchen. Each kitchen had its own sink, range, utensils and oven. There was a common refrigerator that we shared.

Each week the instructor would bring a set of recipes for that night’s dinner along with all the ingredients. She would then review the recipes and demonstrate any unusual or difficult procedures required. Each kitchen group would choose a menu item — the entrée, vegetable, appetizer or dessert — and we would go to our individual kitchens to prepare it.

Then we would all sit down to eat our group-prepared dinner.

It was a great way to learn to cook, and I still use many of the recipes I learned in those classes. That is, when I’m allowed in the kitchen. Read on.

As I continued to increase my cooking skills, I also started to expand my social network. Yes, I started dating again.

I soon learned that I had become a much better cook than many of the women I was dating. There were a few who shared my interest in good food and in cooking, and several of them were as good or slightly better than I was. But in all modesty, I was a better cook than most of them. Hey! Most of the greatest chefs of the world are men.

Then I met the woman who was to become my wife. She had grown up on a farm in North Dakota, had raised three boys on her own and she was a helluva cook — still is. And, yes, she was a far better cook than I. When I cook, I have to follow the recipe. She can cook without a recipe, and she can make a complete meal when “there is nothing in the house” (some of you will know what I mean by that).

And now I’m not allowed in her kitchen.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >