There’s a not-insignificant number of people in the food world with extensive education, often advanced degrees, who arrive there after finally giving in to the irresistible call to cook. Orange County native Heidi Ristau is part of this fine tradition—she has a political science degree from UC Berkeley, an MBA from USC, a successful marketing career, and now, Chefschool cooking school.
“I’ve been passionate about cooking as long as I can remember,” says Ristau. “My mother and grandmother were great cooks, and many of my happiest memories include my large family crowded around a table, laughing and eating—and usually talking about whatever amazing things we would eat next. I also traveled extensively, which opened my mind to new tastes and textures, and inspired me to try new dishes. With this love of great food and a desire to improve my cooking skills, I went to culinary school intending to become a full-time chef. Instead, I fell in love with the school itself and decided to open my own.”
Chefschool is based at The Hood Kitchen in Costa Mesa, where Ristau and co-chef Carol Cotner Thompson teach a variety of classes, from basic knife skills to vegan cooking, including special classes for children and teenagers. Check out the full roster of upcoming classes here.
And in the meantime, you can test-drive Chefschool and simultaneously get some holiday inspiration when Ristau and Thompson give a free cooking demo at Bloomingdales South Coast Plaza on Saturday, Nov. 19. From 2 to 4 p.m. the chefs will prepare holiday dishes and showcase kitchen tools. You don’t even have to RSVP—just appear at the Bloomingdales demo kitchen on the lower level of the store, and see if you don’t leave in Holiday Mind.