Why Tante Marie’s?
Being able to cook, that is, to take to raw ingredients and change them, usually with the use of heat, into something delicious – is a skill that everyone can master. It is not a great mystery; in fact, if you try it over and over, you can probably develop this skill. However, if you take cooking classes or courses under the guidance of an experienced teacher, you will enhance your knowledge and develop this skill much more quickly, and have fun doing it. Eating delicious food is one of the great pleasures of life. As civilized human beings, we need not be dependent on others for the preparation of our food. Whether you graduate from one of the Professional Programs at Tante Marie’s or attend several of the Evening and Weekend Courses, you will have a skill that you can enjoy for the rest of your life and that you will be able to share with your family and friends forever. You can count on the chefs and teachers at Tante Marie’s Cooking School to give you this ability.
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When I decided to give up my job as a journalist and pursue my other passion, cooking, I researched a couple of culinary schools. However, it did not take long for me to realize that only Tante Marie's offered the program I was looking for.
I use superlatives sparingly, but Frances Wilson is the best teacher anyone could wish for. She's smart, very experienced and has a real talent for teaching. Her knowledge about all things culinary is impressive to say the least. She will teach you everything about everything from making sausages and butchering fish to delicately decorating a cake. She has truly inspired me to become an all rounder in the kitchen.
I graduated from Tante Marie's in March 2012 and thanks to the school's founder, Mary Risley, I got an internship in the kitchen at Nopa, a popular and high volume restaurant in San Francisco. Mary told me to work my ass off and I did. In fact, I still do. I got my first restaurant job at Nopa and am currently working in the pastry department. I am so grateful for every thing I learned at Tante Marie's.
I completed the Tante Marie six month culinary program in the spring of 2012. Upon entering the program my goal was to diversify my experience in the food industry. For the past ten years I was a blueberry farmer in the south of Chile. I understood how to plant, grow, harvest, pack and export blueberries globally. Upon selling my farm my foremost goal was to better understand and learn how to put food on the table - I profoundly enjoyed being a grower but wanted to develop a closer connection to the consumers as all my blueberries were packed and shipped to distant locations. I deeply appreciate the effort it takes to grow food and chose Tante Marie’s because I had heard that they also shared my deep appreciation and respect for what it takes to produce sustainable food. I was not disappointed.
On my farm I had a barbeque that was lit 24 hours a day. Most of my cooking was straight on the grill and involved copious amounts of locally sourced meat s- i.e. chewy old dairy cows from my neighbor’s farm. So I was not the most well-versed gourmand upon entering the program. Tante Marie’s opened my eyes to the delights of French cooking. The course was rigorous and incredibly complete and expansive. Some may say that the cream based sauces that form the backbone of French cooking are passé, but I strongly believe that before one can dismiss such thinking they must understand the process involved as it really is the basis for all fine cuisine. I use techniques that I learned at Tante Marie's almost daily as a cook at Kokkari, a Greek restaurant in San Francisco. In fact, without my training at Tante Marie's I would never have been able to do what I am doing now.
Perhaps the greatest gifts I received from Tante Marie's was a true sense of camaraderie that I developed with my fellow classmates whom I will never forget and a much better palate and food knowledge which has formed a base for me to build off of for all my future endeavors.
Having a great interest in cooking, I was very excited to win a trip to San Francisco with one of the prizes a cooking class at Tante Marie’s School of Cooking. Because I live in Minnesota and had not heard of this school before, I researched it online. I thought: Oh, my! What a treat I have to look forward to. Watching a few of Mary’s videos – especially her preparing the turkey – only made me more excited to see what it was all about.
The subject of the day I was there was a 5 hour cooking class on fish and fish sauces. I don’t prepare much fish, so I was looking forward to learning new ideas and techniques. And learn, I did! Chef Malcolm was so patient with our class, explaining how to prepare at least 11 different fish dishes and appropriate sauces. My head was swimming (pardon the pun) with ideas and I was SO glad we came away with the recipes for each.
I chose the Halibut with wasabi dressing recipe. Here I am proudly presenting my accomplishment ready for the oven. And also proud to say the class enjoyed it very much as we tasted each others’ final presentations.
The 5 hours absolutely flew by. I wondered what in the world would take 5 hours to talk about - - - well, now I know. From the explanation to the preparation to the cooking and the tasting - - oh, and did I mention the wine accompaniments? After looking around Mary’s kitchen, I wanted to go out and buy everything she had and start cooking all kinds of various dishes. Although I live in Minnesota, I am CERTAIN I will be back soon in San Francisco and CERTAIN that I will land in this wonderful kitchen once again eager to learn everything and more about other kinds of food and their preparation.
Thank you, too, Mary, for stopping by to check on us – and with a special guest: Chuck Williams of Williams-Sonoma. You two were a real treat.
What a fun, fun day!! I was sorry to have it end.
My very best - Nancy Keyes
Thank you again for my time at your school. It really did change my life. I am now a sous chef at a Cajun fine dining place here in Madison WI. I am also heading to California next month to see my dad and start making a push for my own place featuring porchetta, Madison needs a place where I can bring a touch of San Francisco flare too. I have been working with sides of pig again at my current restaurant and have been enjoying it immensely. I will keep you posted.
I wish I could have stayed in San Francisco to continue to have Tante Marie's in and around me more but I want you to know that I carry your, Frances's, and my time there with me in my heart every day I walk into the kitchen.
Bert graduated from the Six-Month Full-Time Culinary Course in March 2010
Our week with Malcolm Jessop at Tante Marie was a fantastic Mother-Daughter experience! We doubled our education by sharing what we had individually learned as we seldom worked on the same recipe. We would walk home and swap stories and tips about what we had made, and in the evening we read through the recipes we would tackle in class the next day.
Who would believe me if I said that it was the best time I had ever had learning something new? How do I explain what fun it was to meet so many wonderful, interesting, enthusiastic people who also enjoy learning? It doesn't matter if you have never stepped foot in a kitchen or if you've been cooking for your family for thirty years. Malcolm is a gifted teacher who demonstrates many basics skills and tricks that perhaps we never had learned - be it the proper use and care of our knives, boning round and flat fish, properly trussing chickens, drying meat before cooking, learning how to balance the sweet, sour, salty, and spicy, making souffles, gougers, salads, soups, sauces. Suddenly, the most basic elements change your cooking and make it better. This course inspires confidence in everyone.
As my daughter, Courtney, has been living abroad, this time together, just us, doing something we both enjoy...learning, cooking, eating, and meeting new friends...nothing could have been better! I just wish we lived in San Francisco to take more classes at Tante Marie's. We will return!
Everything about this school is fun, friendly, and intimate. I couldn't ask for a nicer group of people to be learning with, and our teacher, Jodi Liano, has not only given us a good start with basic cooking techniques, but also has provided us with a low-stress, good-energy environment for learning, and a wealth of tasty recipes to take home and try out on our friends. I have been having little dinner parties since the class began using the recipes we make in class, and the response has given me the confidence to get more and more adventurous in my cooking.
There are 12 of us in this class, and two fully equipped kitchens, large enough for us to work in in groups of one and two and yet as cozy as Mom's kitchen back home. We are a sight to behold, scurrying around and chattering away while we gather ingredients, slicing and dicing and bringing all the elements of a dish together. All the while Jodi is moving through each kitchen, offering tips and advice and even a helping hand as needed.
By the end of the evening we have usually made an appetizer, 6 or 7 main course dishes, and one or two desserts. We sit down with wine at the two tables set up in the front kitchen, enjoy the fruits of our labors, and Jodi goes around the room and has us talk about the dishes we were responsible for making, often adding extra information and useful tips.
I can't think of a better investment of time and energy than learning a skill with such a great payoff as being able to cook good food for yourself and your friends. I can't think of a friendlier environment for making yourself a better cook than Tante Marie's Cooking School. Thanks, Jodi (and Mary)!
Follow your bliss! Tante Marie's Cooking School has been one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. My only question is why did I wait so long?
After an unexpected lay-off, I debated whether I should jump in to the Pastry Program. I began the course in September with chef/instructor Cindy Mushet. The course is more than fantastic. If you are passionate about baking as I am, regardless of your final goal or intention, the program is outstanding. Chef Cindy is simply brilliant. She is a wealth of information, a serious and professional instructor who offers clear and concise lectures, guidance, critiques and demonstrations. But much more than that, Chef Cindy and the atmosphere at Tante Marie are warm, inviting, professional without being off-putting. My fellow students are a joy to be with. What better way to spend my time than with like-minded bakers!
The Pastry Course schedule offers great flexibility - so while following my bliss I've been able to launch my own philanthropy consulting business! Tante Marie's is, hands down, the best school in San Francisco - allowing students to learn and explore the culinary world in a supportive and intimate program.
Merry Christmas to you and all the instructors. I hope to take more classes in 2011...I have a binder devoted to the printed recipes that are handed out with each class. Through the years I have been inspired by my visits. One afternoon after a class several years ago I went to Cost Plus and saw a row of work stations with butcher block tops and storage that reminded me of something at the school. When I returned to San Diego I found a floor sample at one of their stores for sale; this has become the most perfect item in my small kitchen! Thank you for the inspirations that go beyond the classes...visits to farmers markets, wineries, newsletters, recipes...
The professional culinary program at Tante Marie's is everything I had hoped it would be, and more. After researching schools throughout the U.S. and abroad, I selected Tante Marie's for a whole host of reasons:
- high caliber chef instructors and alums
- diverse student make-up, use of exceptional ingredients
- a welcoming learning environment in a world-class city
Through my research online, I was encouraged to discover that there are scholarship opportunities available from a variety of organizations for culinary students; I applied for and received a James Beard Foundation scholarship to put toward my tuition.
I moved across the country from Chicago to attend Tante Marie's - and I'm so glad I did. We are learning serious French technique along with other ethnic cuisines. Each week is divided into both cuisine and pastry classes, providing a well-rounded, in-depth study of both. We explore all that is happening in the world of food, including important historical and contemporary chefs, contemporary culinary philosophies, and the exciting food and wine scene in California and throughout the world.
The kitchens at Tante Marie's are filled with natural light, tables are set with white linens and fresh flowers every day, and the kitchen classroom becomes a true learning community. Our chef instructor, Frances Wilson, is well loved by her students because of her remarkable breadth and depth of culinary knowledge and experience, along with her approach to teaching that brings out the best in her students.
Tante Marie's enjoys an outstanding reputation, and rightly so-students graduate prepared to enter any professional setting, with the confidence to pursue whatever their culinary goals may be. And just as important, they leave having had a wonderful time!
When Mary asked our Pastry Class if we would like to write a review of Chef Cindy Mushet, of course I wanted to do so, but I thought how odd to review your current teacher, and I didn't have a clue on how to express it. I found a way to sum up my experience and give folks an idea of what this Pastry Class under the helm of Chef Cindy Mushet by telling you about Jane Wertz.
Jane Wertz was one of my advertising professors in college. This woman was fun, kind and personable (she hated that I rode a skateboard to class...I might hurt myself!). And let me tell you, she knew her stuff - and loved it! But the most fantastic thing about her is that she taught with all these traits combined; it's a powerful and positive influence. Jane is who taught me my current craft - media planning in advertising. In fact she was SO inspiring that I took off to New York knowing no one and got a job in the media department at one of the biggest advertising agencies. Over 22 years later I still enjoy and am quite a success in my field.
Chef Cindy Mushet runs her class the same way Jane ran hers. First, she really knows her stuff! We learn not just what we are baking, but what's its origin is and who created it, why it's named what it is... We are learning the science of baking (when do you use powder v. soda??). Chef arms us with the basics of baking and "traditional" ways to make things, which our class tends to want to challenge (we know you want to make it chocolate, Megan!). Chef ensures that those times we do "create" we know exactly HOW to create, and why. It could be as "duh"/obvious as replacing liquid with like liquid in weight/viscosity, or more complicated tasks like measuring and processing for the different types of yeasts - we'll have to know!
And Chef Mushet obviously loves what she does! It comes across in every lesson, every delicious perfection and every "learning" flub. Demos are as entertaining as they are informative - and very engaging for the entire class. Chef encourages every skill level and demands perfection ("you better know how to make roses!"). Our mistakes are lessons. Our successes lauded.
Chef gets to know all of us individually - we all have our different quirks and challenges and she uses this knowledge to help and encourage our specific needs along the way (yes, Chef, I"m practicing my piping!).
Just like Jane Wertz, Chef Mushet combines her knowledge, passion and person to teach class with inspiration. I'm glad to have the honor of being in her class because I know the next 22 years will be as great and successful in Pastry and the last 22 have been in advertising. Thank you, Chef Mushet!
My time in the professional pastry program at Tante Marie's Cooking School was nothing short of extraordinary. I had the privilege of being taught by Chef Cindy Mushet. Everyone has had a teacher they will always remember and look up to, whether its from kindergarten or college. I found mine in pastry school. I am so grateful for the passion, knowledge, and inspirations Cindy Mushet gave me week after week! Her teaching makes you wish for class everyday! We learned the basics and foundations for so many things; my 3" three-ring binder literally cannot fit one more recipe! Each one has become a favorite!
People of all different ages and backgrounds fit right in here. It was so great to be surrounded by people who are so different, yet share the same passion for pastry as I. Each person's unique style and personality really came through in everything we produced. Creativity thrives!
What sets Tante Marie's Cooking School apart from the others is the personal attention you receive and the investment the chef puts into you. This isn't a cooking school 'factory' where they recruit and enroll as many people as they can only to get them through the program as quick as possible! You will never feel like just a number at Tante Marie's. Both Chef Cindy Mushet and Mary Risley WANT you to have a successful career with food in a field that is right for you and they will help you get there!
Pastry School at Tante Marie's has given me the courage, confidence, and ability to follow my dream career in food! Enrolling in the professional pastry program is one of the best decisions I've made and it was an experience I will hold dear to me, always.
The full-time culinary course at Tante Marie's gave me the skills and confidence I needed to pursue the food writing career of my dreams.
For anyone who loves to cook, the schedule is a joy: half-days of cooking, a sit-down lunch and an afternoon demonstration by first-rate chefs and instructors. Through total immersion in hands-on training, I learned quickly how to be an efficient and exacting cook who never takes shortcuts. The talent and integrity of Frances Wilson, our full-time instructor, continues to inspire me in the kitchen every day.
The course teaches classic French technique you could never learn from reading a recipe. Additionally, we were instructed in butchering, cooking grains and legumes and contemporary California cuisine with a focus on organic, local meat and produce. I was especially pleased with the significant amount of time devoted to learning pastry.
Founder and owner Mary Risley is well-known and respected in the culinary community, and she helped connect me with people in the publishing field after my graduation. I am so glad I chose to attend Tante Marie's, and I am eternally grateful to the staff there for turning me into a knowledgeable and competent cook.
Karla J. Carreiro (Graduated from Tante Marie in 2009)
Why Tante Marie’s? Well, why not? If anyone would have told me I’d become a restaurant critic-turned-food writer, I would have attended this “gem of a school” much earlier than I did. Rated one of the “Top Ten Cooking Schools,” their professional program gets you off the seat and cooking. It exposes you to various flavors, ingredients and a host of food pairings. The instructor, Frances, teaches you a treasure chest of techniques and speed in the kitchen. I can still hear her words, “Degrease, Deglaze” when I make a pan sauce.
The gastronomical experience in San Francisco was incredible; I was 59 years old, living in Cape Cod Massachusetts, when I donned the school’s chef jacket with two careers tucked under my belt. Although standing on the front line in a kitchen wasn’t my dream job, Mary Risley’s school, fueled my passion to cook and later write. Word of advice: practice your knife skills and do the internship at the end of the program. You’ll have the confidence to take on the culinary world. Not to mention, you can post it on your resume.
It may have been 27 years ago( !!! ), but I will never forget our Thanksgiving celebration at Tante Marie's. Prepping the bird and all the fixings, the wonderful walk to Coit Tower, and coming back to the school, to the smell of the turkey. One of my fondest memories.
My year at Tante Marie's was truly an amazing experience, and you really did teach us "how to fix our mistakes"! How to be brave, adventurous cooks, but not fool-hardy. How to "never apologize for your food"! How to be disciplined without being rigid. And how to remember always that "cooking is fun!" I have passed this knowledge onto many fledgling cooks I have helped along their way, and the greatest compliment I ever had was when the daughter of a close friend was watching me cook at their home,and said,"Now I know why Mom cooks the way she does--you taught her!" Well, I learned from the best.