CIA Napa- Day 1 Class

As I walked up the steps to the old stone building, I took a long breath.  I entered the tall doors and saw a sea of future classmates.  I knew I’d shortly get my chef’s clothes …and I was ready to feel like a real — DORK!  Oh yea, full outfit, including a really TALL hat!


The day started with a “lecture” from our Chef.  It was the best lecture I’ve ever had.  Finally there were words and phrases that I not only knew but understood.  Plus there was more information that I actually WANTED to learn.  I am SO not a classroom learner. Never have been, never will be — but this class was doable!  Oh wait, did I mention that my Chef is a James Beard Award winner, and – he worked at the French laundry as the Head Pastry Chef for 6 years.  NO KIDDING.

There are 16 of us, including a lady from Venezuela and another from New Zealand.  They came ALL that way JUST for the class!  There’s a cute family of a dad and his two daughters- he’s 80!  Sweet old guy takes breaks when he tires out.  Pretty cool family trip though.  Then there are a few of us stragglers that aren’t in a group but we still feel connected because we all want the same thing.  To learn as much as we can through the class and each other.  We each come with a different background, and different experiences.

After our lecture, we moved to the kitchen— when I say the kitchen. I mean it’s 50 kitchens in a room that is the size of a football field. I have never seen anything like that before.  EVER.  The highest end appliance I have ever seen, all perfectly lined up! We were among the students who are working through a 2 year cooking program. We are all dressed the same,  really like an army of chefs. (the instructors wear black pants so we can tell who they are. It’s pretty intense, a lot of rules, no jewelry, hair pulled back, crazy tall hat on in certain area, crazy tall hat off in others.  We began our day by making pastry cream, cream anglaise, pâté a choux, crème brûlée, crème caramel, and pot do crème!  Needless to say, there is a reason that I LOVE to bake— I LOVE TO EAT!


The highlight of all of that was actually the night was DINNER.  lol At 7pm all the chefs from all the classes come together and eat what the “cooking” chefs have made though out the day.  It’s literally a 50 ft long buffet (I hate Buffets, my husband and I call them trough eating!) But this one– oh this one with its amazing spread of over 200 items (meats, seafood, tofu, veggies, starches, breads) that were all made by people who really CARE about food and presentation was PERFECT.  I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 25 years, and although I am very against killing animals I still appreciate an amazing presentation.  I literally ate like I was “PIG.”

Two things I walked away with — one was that my cheeks hurt from smiling so much.  It was so nice to be with “my” people. People who really care about SUGAR!! You know, the things that I CARE about.  And on a serious note– as a baker we weigh our ingredients, which I have talked about on this blog. (The reason we weigh is because if 10 of us scooped up a cup of flour and then weighed it – the weights would all be different even though the flour is in that one cup container)  I weigh by ounce but need to start weighing my gram, for a more accurate measurement!

Thanks for reading my note, I just don’t want to forget …

Weigh– then Bake on!

2 Replies to “CIA Napa- Day 1 Class”

  1. I would LOVE to see that kitchen. I bet it is amazing. Do y’all have to clean your space at the end of the day? The French Laundry was one of my favorite dining experiences, so I am a little jealous of your chef instructor! xoxo

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