Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kitchen on Fire Launches West Berkeley Location

By Jesse Hirsch
Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Every few months I stumble on a photo of the wacky owners of the Kitchen on Fire cooking school in Berkeley, mugging with ludicrously oversized knives or sticking weird objects in their mouths. Positioning themselves as bad-boy outsiders of the culinary community, they’re about as edgy as a mash-up of Guy Fieri and Penn and Teller. The taglines write themselves: They’re crazy….about cooking!

But classically trained chefs MikeC (his legal name) and Olivier Said (former co-owner of César Berkeley) have shown a surprising amount of endurance and growth in their six years running Kitchen on Fire. This month they launched a second Berkeley location that’s twice as big as the first. And whether or not you dig their goofy antics, these dudes have clearly tapped into a sharp business model.

MikeC and Olivier Said
  • Kitchen on Fire
  • MikeC and Olivier Said

“We do comedy skits and use bullwhips to explain how proteins are denatured, but that’s just so you don’t fall asleep,” says MikeC, sounding like a kid who thinks school is a major drag. “Professors can be so boring; we’d hate for you to run out of the class screaming.”

Classes range from making perfect batters to sushi and nigiri prep. They aren’t cheap — $70 for a one-off or $800 for twelve-week sessions — but they sell out regularly. The new location, a few blocks from Berkeley Bowl West, will enable Kitchen on Fire to add many new classes and private corporate team-building sessions. Said also reports that they are hiring more cooking instructors; no professional background necessary.

Oh, and about that tagline: MikeC says they’re “Seriously funny, but also serious about food.” Ooph.

Kitchen on Fire, 510-548-2665, KitchenonFire.com
North: 1509 Shattuck Ave., # A, Berkeley
West: 2940 Seventh St., Berkeley

Comments? Tips? Get in touch at Jesse.Hirsch@EastBayExpress.com.


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