Secrets of the chef

Posted at 8:34 PM, Apr 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-15 21:34:55-04

 If you’d like to be a better cook, but you don’t know the difference between a bechamel or a veloute’ sauce, much less how to make one, the "Secrets of the Chef" — a 6-week cooking class at Del Mar College —  was designed just for you. The Friday night classes are held in the Restaurant Management building on the Del Mar west campus. They’re taught by chef Israel Villanueva, a faculty member of the culinary arts program. Students call him "Chef Izzy’" for short.

Since this is a continuing education class, there aren’t any long lectures on food science. In fact, it’s mostly hands-on.  Chef "Izzy," says, "Here we get straight to the point, we get straight to the point as far as this is what we’re going to do today  this how we’re going to do it,  and then I’ll do a demo, and then they go at it."  On this Friday night, the focus was on making sauces from scratch for a variety of different dishes suggested by the class members.  Villanueva says, "What I want to do is, I want to try and touch on everyone’s background and everyone’s likes. I have all these requests, can I make this, can I make that, how do you do this?"  The menu that night was pretty broad with everything made from scratch. That included Swedish meatballs, Spaghetti sauce with meatballs, Amazon chicken with a cilantro sauce, broccoli salad with a sauce, beef enchiladas, and Carne Guisada. Chef "Izzy," says, "I’m trying to accommodate everyone that I can to make it a really good experience, worth the time and the money."

And while the students were only halfway thru the course, they said Chef "Izzy" had already done that. One student, Smokey Neal, told us, "I’ve hated school my entire life, this is the only school I’ve ever wanted to go to… He’s a great instructor."

The six classes are held on Friday nights from 6-m to 9-pm. They cover everything from y and sanitation, to knife skills for food prep, and the fundamentals of cooking healthy entrees, sauces, appetizers, hor d ‘oeuvres and pastas. The tuition is just $160 for all six classes, and that’s a real bargain. Chef Izzy" says he was in Chicago during spring break, and similar classes there run about $1,600. And for my money, the best part of each class is the final half hour. That’s when everything that everyone cooked is set out buffet-style, and you get to chow down and sample all of it.

For information about the classes