Review: Napa Cooking School

When my husband and I married, nearly 30 years ago, our videographer asked a close friend of ours to share a word of advice to the new bride and groom. “Don’t cook together,” she said with a laugh. She knew both of us too well.

Silverado Cooking School, produce
Fresh fruit and vegetables play a key role in cooking classes. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Today, neither my husband or I are comfortable in the kitchen. I prefer to make reservations rather than follow a recipe and my husband will always opt for the backyard barbeque over the stove. Yet, after a morning spent in Napa at Silverado Cooking School, my culinary skills moved up a notch.

Chef Malcolm de Sieyes learned to cook at the tender age of five. As a dual citizen of France and the United States, de Sieyes blended the best of both places. “California is the closest place you can get that is similar to Europe,” notes de Sieyes.

Malcolm de Sieyes, Liam Mayclem
Chef Malcolm de Sieyes with Liam Mayclem. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

“Good food doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive,” said de Sieyes. “I want people to feel comfortable in the kitchen. We’re not like a restaurant. We’re a commercially licensed kitchen, but I wanted this to be a very friendly place. I tried to create a space that was warm and inviting.”

His hands-on cooking classes are geared to the home cook with a typical class lasting four hours, resulting in a four-course meal. From Fortune 500 companies looking for a team-building activity to girlfriend getaways, or wedding party bonding, Silverado Cooking School is a unique way to spend time in the Napa Valley other than wine tasting. That’s not to say that wine (or beer) is not served throughout the class. Chef Malcolm and his crew aim to please and teach students a lesson, or two.

chicken soup, Silverado Cooking School
Winter wilted greens, potato and chicken soup. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Sample class menu

Our lunch menu consisted of winter wilted greens, potato and chicken soup, Santa Maria tri tip, salt-roasted carrots and turnips, sauteed wild mushrooms with creamy polenta and warm Meyer lemon pudding cake with blood orange sorbet for dessert. Our group of eight students divided into teams to prepare each course. I volunteered to chop the root vegetables and add them to a bed of salt. Not only did this dish make for a pretty presentation, it was very friendly to those watching their caloric intake.

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Spectacular proteins paired with fresh produce is the goal for Chef Malcolm de Sieyes. The majority of the produce comes from his two acre farm, augmented with produce from Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa.

Classes range from 1-12 people with $1,500. renting the kitchen and crew. For groups of 12-24 people the cost is $95. per person.

Silverado Cooking School
Lunch is served at Silverado Cooking School. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tip
As a newbie cook, I am sorely lacking in knife skills. Some of you might be familiar with “the claw.” Keep a half open fist when you hold an item to be diced or sliced. This hand position will protect your fingers from getting cut on the hand that is opposite a very sharp knife.

Have you ever taken a cooking class? What are your insider tips to share when it comes to the kitchen?

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and Silverado Cooking School on Facebook.

Silverado Cooking School
Cooking in wine country. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

If You Go:
Silverado Cooking School (707) 927-3591
1552 Silverado Trail
Napa, California 94559
Article written by, photos and video courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Silverado Cooking School while researching this article. All opinions are my own.