Valentine for Bonnie

Everything is relative.

Cooking school means one thing to the would-be professional chef, and another to the home cook. Bonnie Stern’s School of Cooking is one of the latter. She opened it in 1973, long before there were foodies, foodtv or molecular gastronomy. She was a pioneer for selling the city on the idea of cooking classes long before we got the choices we have today. She also gets kudos for lasting as long as she has. There’s a lot of to be said for constancy, and she’s a great example of that.

Because my training was for the professional kitchen, I knew little about Bonnie, until now. I was going to be in New York for a few days, so I looked into which celebrity chef would be cooking at James Beard House. The Greenwich Village home of the father of American gastronomy is a culinary destination. And there was Bonnie, doing a Saturday workshop and cooking a Sunday brunch during my stay there. I quickly signed up for both, and in the meantime made an appointment to interview her here before watching her in action away from home.

I met with Bonnie on Valentine’s Day, ostensibly to talk about her school from a business point of view, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Which is not to say she didn’t give me a warm welcome. She certainly did. She put on a friendly pot of coffee, laid out some cookies, set me down in her dining/classroom, with the kitchen at one end, where two women were doing some prep for an upcoming class.

But she didn’t want to talk about business, no matter how I approached it.

“For me, it,s all about food and cooking,” she says. “I’m passionate about it. I love it.”

Happy Valentine’s, Bonnie.

More on Bonnie to come.