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Cabrillo Cooking Classes

Chef Beverlie Terra mentors culinary students.
Chef Beverlie Terra mentors culinary students.Susanna Gaertner

Cabrillo Cooking Classes

Sarah Pesout
Sarah Pesout Susanna Gaertner

Enrolling in the Cabrillo College culinary program has made becoming a chef a reality for hundreds of students for over 20 years. “You have to complete certain courses to advance to the next course, so the program accepts anyone who completes these programs,” says Instructor Beverlie Terra. “We get students from 18 to 58, from future chefs to home cooks looking to improve.” It should be noted that wine classes are the most expensive and you do not need these to get your culinary certificate.

The Cabrillo program differs from that of other Community College programs, according to Beverlie, “because we run a restaurant four days a week, giving students front of house, back of house, costing, and internships at restaurants in town.” You could pay upwards of $40,000 a year to attend a similar program at a traditional culinary school! Here, to a 1-2 year culinary certificate (30 units at $46 per unit) will cost around $1800 when you factor in fees; students wishing to combine this with an Associate's Degree (60 units) will pay c. $2200. There is a separate “wine and wine service” certification (18 units).

Each course lasts for 16 weeks and, after finishing their classroom ABCs, the students are put to work at Pino Alto restaurant, located in the Sesnon House on the Cabrillo campus. Class members must produce recipes, devise (a total of 8 over the 4 month semester) menus, prepare and serve the food. Rotating teams ensure that everyone gets to perform all of the tasks as well as how to play nicely in the kitchen.

The evening I visited there were 3 appetizers and 5 entrees on offer: I chose the Gyoza vegetarian potsticker with daikon salad, the former pleasingly plump and browned with no hint of greasiness. For the entree: goat cheese and mint filled beet ravioli, which I'd seen prepared moments earlier by my efficient server, Sarah Pesout, who was quick to give credit for the recipe to her colleague Dare Arowe.

The dining room is sedate and quiet, a rare and welcome atmosphere in this age of loud eating arenas. The wine choices are extensive and reasonable.

Sue Slater heads up the wine program and—NEW THIS SUMMER—will offer a six-week course on champagne and French sparkling wines. Open to all, this course will debut in mid-June; registration begins in May.

Coming up are more of the restaurant's popular themed dinners; the next one on April 11 will showcase Route 1 Farms and Guglielmo winery: 4 courses followed by a reception to meet the farmer and the winemaker. These dinners fill up, so register now at pinoaltorestaurant.org