Tess’ Culinary Adventures: Have wok will travel

IN HIS BEST-SELLING MEMOIR A YEAR IN PROVENCE, author Peter Mayle “transports us into all the earthly pleasures of Provençal life,” and the main character is the region’s cuisine. “The year began with lunch,” the book begins, detailing a menu that included foie gras, beef en croûte, salads dressed in virgin oil, hand-picked cheeses, and desserts of “a miraculous lightness.”

Food lovers also can escape on a culinary adventure with a cooking class. The cooking classes run the gamut: The Hot Stove Society in Seattle, operated by phenom chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas; The Farm Cooking School in New Jersey, operated by two former Gourmet magazine editors; the North Carolina Barbecue Society’s “BBQ Boot Camps”; and San Francisco Cooking School, showcasing the city’s best chefs.

Our region is home to Tess’ Kitchen Store cooking classes, whose resident chef is 22-year Chez Panisse veteran Alan Tangren. Alan worked alongside culinary icon Alice Waters from 1982 until 2004, as a forager, chef, and co-pastry chef. He also worked with North American chefs Julia Child, Martha Stewart, Wolfgang Puck, Nancy Silverton and Bradley Ogden.

Tess’ is a three-story, 6,000 sq.-ft. gourmet kitchen store in historic downtown Grass Valley. It carries major brand names in cookware, bakeware, cutlery and kitchen electrics and has over 1,000 different gadgets and utensils. Tess also offers a wide selection of artisan cheeses, fine wine and craft beer. It also has a top-notch wine club. Rod Byers, a certified wine educator, selects the wines.

The cooking classes sometimes have an added dimension—combining a cooking class with a travelogue to whatever region is featured, creating a rich cultural experience. One recent example: Tess’ owner Steve Rosenthal put together a menu from his travels to Vietnam, including Mother-in-Law soup, a Vietnamese omelette and fresh spring rolls. In the class, Steve also shared a collection of photographs during their time in Southeast Asia taken by his spouse, Rachel Rosenthal.

Tess’ upcoming cooking classes include Halloween Treats on October 17; Early American Hors d’Oeuvres November 7; Thai Noodles, Wraps and Apps on November 14; Cast Iron Quick Breads on November 28; Handmade Holiday Gifts on December 5; and Holiday Side Dishes on December 12.


Tess’ has unique items for fall, including polished stoneware Jack O’Lanterns and Christmas ornaments; Bee’s Wrap (a reusable food wrap made from cotton fabric and bees wax) and Paper Shark 100 percent cotton, flour-sack towels with colorful designs (“Just like Grandma used to use”).

(Photo: Rachel Rosenthal)

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