It’s all in the gravy!

Today Chef Peter went over the ins and outs of roasting with the KOC cohort.  The trainees discussed everything from the importance of caramelization and trussing to oven types and when to add mirapoix.

IMG_5097And what good is roasting without gravy!  The cohort learned about how to thicken drippings using a roux, a mixture of fat and flour. Adding the fat is the difference between gravy and dumplings. Why is this? Chef Peter explained and shared some interesting facts about the process of making flour – like that flour is flammable!  If you are curious (like I was), watch the video below for the proof!

Sweet Potato Croquettes

What do you make when you have buckets full of donated sweet potatoes? Sweet potato croquettes! As Paula says: “I like [cooking in the St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen.] … It forces us to be creative, because we are working with donations.”

Below, the trainees begin the process by cutting the sweet potatoes.

IMG_2403Next, the potatoes are roasted, smashed, and chilled overnight in a sheet pan. Then, Paula cuts the sheet of chilled potatoes, dunks the pieces in an egg wash, and rolls them in gingersnaps and panko crumbs.

IMG_2413The delicious finished product was used at the Friends of the Poor Walk/Run in Hayward on October 6th!

Day One of Cohort 37 …

It’s Back To School for the new cohort of the Kitchen of Champions, which starts today, Tuesday October 1. This will be our 37th Cohort of the program, which started in 2007. There’s always an air of excitement in the Community Center and Dining Room on the first day of school — new faces, new energy, and clean culinary jackets to give out.

Just 11 weeks and 4 days left to go until graduation! Here we go …

Congratulations, Graduates!

Congrats to the 12 graduates of the Cohort 36 who graduated on Thursday, September 19! We are so proud of you and your remarkable achievement in the Kitchen of Champions program! Thank you to Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who presented the keynote address and helped give out awards.

We look forward to the achievements of the next cohort and future cohorts to come. We are all champions!

The Top Five Pictures from Cohort 36!

Cohort 36 graduates next week (on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m. in the Dining Room). Below are five pictures that capture this amazing Cohort and the Kitchen of Champions experience:

1. Good foodKOC12. Great teaching

KOC23. Teamwork

KOC34. Positive attitudes

KOC45. Success!


The Kitchen of Champions is an amazing 12 weeks of culinary education, hard work, and reward!


“What’s the most important thing you learn in the Kitchen of Champions Program?” I asked Wayne who was in the back cutting sweet potatoes while the rest of the cohort busily prepared pork ragu, garlic bread, roasted veggies and cranberry OJ for the St. Vincent de Paul’s free dining room.

admpNEh3BpeqLf0ykfYP5ugCkJbpXL1tMIcFrCyY2QdHkMwz-skrGVvDdZxAGp-5qw=w1600“Working as a team and dealing with the fast-pace environment,” he answered. “You only have 2.5 hours” to cook for the hundreds of people served in the Dining Room each day, “so you have to be fast.” That’s why Wayne is prepping for the next day’s meal. Below is the team’s finished product!


Graduation Invitation

Graduation for the 36th Cohort will take place on Thursday, September 19, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Dining Room, 675 23rd Street, Oakland, 94612. All are invited! We celebrate the achievements of our graduating Kitchen of Champions class, as well as our other job-training program, the Champion Workforce transitional employment program.

Our keynote speaker for this class will be Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, whose District 3 includes the West Oakland neighborhood that surrounds our Dining Room and Community Center.

Iron Chef!

The cohort’s last Cooking Matters class tests all their skills in a friendly competition – Iron Chef! The trainees split into teams, create a recipe, and cook it to perfection.

Below are the final entrees lined up.

TXh-gyvi9Ne5QJDsOIbV-tLgb23GjFyC_-TJrlUJJ80Curried cauliflower polenta:

5XQBc-fkp7RjLtgrBEJKhWbv9XmOEYk3GXgCbURpDhcBlack-eyed pea samosa with cucumber yogurt sauce:

v1x8bHVNzT15mktJ_maMz77YYGIKhRRc_NgpYdyR2RwGarlic noodles:

zlFrCmogQc5WwXVpzNX2Iy6UivNoPi7TuX2Z36a7oB0Grilled ratatouille:

F_jWBovSeY8DArPwhCMo3Qwf6R1poIFmHhOhZCMaotQSauteed shrimp with mango sauce:

P76CpR8CThR2oYdcxpaCyhIk_k3AryZ_44bgS2-g8XUVegetarian wheat lasagna: xqy_lxtv-Ts8_sYDT5FyZ8kl-aV8vs5kMt73nPU44fEThe trainees proudly present their dishes.

2J8jx_YYRr1VwtI6JrKchu96odsXLRtMAA_7BaJXO_0At the end, all the trainees received their Cooking Matters certificates of completion. A job well done. Congratulations!