Holistic Culinary School Opens New Campus in Berkeley

by Sarah Henry on June 24, 2011 · 24 comments

in berkeley bites,food events

Bauman College's new Berkeley campus is housed in a light-filled historic building. Photo: Sarah Henry

Tonight the whole foods people at Bauman College get to show off their state-of-the art kitchens with Vulcan ranges (and, presumably, their holistic culinary chops) at the grand opening of their new location on University Avenue near San Pablo.

Visitors can check out the elegant remodel–nod to local architect Charles Kahn–of the 1949 building which once housed the Mobilized Women of Berkeley. (The Mobilized Women’s Cooperative, formed in 1917 in response to World War I, was founded on the principles of service to country and community.) Recently earmarked as a landmark site due to its architectural design and historic status, the building features vaulted ceilings, concrete grid form panels, a unique u-shape design and translucent glass blocks in a diamond pattern.

Why move? The non-profit nutrition and culinary arts program, formerly housed in a rabbit warren of a building on Grayson Street in West Berkeley, simply outgrew the space, said Sitarani Brian, the culinary program director of Bauman’s Berkeley campus, which shifted to its new digs in March.

Sitarani Brian from Bauman College. Photo: Daniel Brian

The natural chef instructor, who specializes in vegetarian, vegan, and raw cuisines, as well as macrobiotic, ayurvedic, and gluten-free diets, grew up in the suburban mid-West, one of seven kids whose parents loved all things Indian (hence Brian’s given name and her vegetarian upbringing.)

Brian, 28, has a marketing background but left corporate America to study at The Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City before landing a job at the fancy raw food restaurant Pure Food and Wine. Three years ago she relocated to San Francisco with her ethically omnivorous husband to open her own personal chef business. Her first client, ironically enough, was a chef who was too busy with her own catering business to fix her own food.

Brian missed working in a communal setting, so jumped at the chance to come on board as a natural chef instructor for Bauman College. We spoke yesterday on the eve of preparations for the opening.

 

How is it running a holistic culinary and nutrition education program here?

There’s such an elevated consciousness in Berkeley about eating healthily, locally, sustainably, seasonally, organically, and ethically. It’s a natural fit. It’s like the bar is set pretty high to begin with.

How well known is Bauman College around town?

Sometimes it seems like we’re the greatest thing you’ve never heard of. But that’s changing. A lot of our graduates go on to work as personal chefs or in therapeutic settings and that’s great. As more of our alumni begin working in the larger community or opening their own restaurants our name recognition will grow. Moving to this central location should help too.

Can you point to any alumni of note?

Jesse Miner, a vegan chef in San Francisco, is one of the most sought-after personal chefs in the Bay Area with a long waiting list. I knew of him before I even moved out here.

Alison Negrin is the head chef for John Muir Health and what a transformation we’ve seen with hospitals embracing a holistic approach to feeding people and recognizing how important nutrition and nourishment is to overall health. Alison has done so much great work in this area.

Many of our culinary graduates are employed as personal chefs by top Silicon Valley executives from some of the big companies, but we don’t name these private clients.

Where do you like to eat in Berkeley?

Gather offers fabulous food in modern surroundings. For brunch I recommend their soft polenta with braised beluga lentils and Bordeaux spinach. Revival has such a different feel, it reminded me of a tavern, with its subdued lighting. I like their black kale salad with bing cherries and fried almonds and the stuffed squash blossoms. 900 Grayson was our go-to spot for chai when the college was across the street. The guys who own the place are just so nice. For brunch I love their tofu scramble with kalamata olives and harissa. We took a group of visiting New Yorkers there and they just raved about the fried chicken and waffles. It’s simple food well done.

What’s lacking on the food front in this town?

I really miss Baby Cakes, the vegan bakery in New York. There are plenty of vegan bakeries here but none that I’ve found coming from a whole foods perspective. They’re all doing refined white flour and sugar. They do a brilliant job when compared to their non-vegan counterparts. I mean a Cinnaholic cinnamon roll tastes like a Cinnabon.  But I’d like to see a whole foods vegan bakery here.

A Taste of Bauman College, 1007 University Avenue (cross is 9th Street), Friday, June 24th, 6 p.m.- 9 p.m. Free. Whole foods photo from Bauman College’s upcoming cookbook Flavors of Health, courtesy of Chris Clay Bauman.

This post originally appeared on Berkeleyside.

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Berkeley Bites: Amy Murray, Venus and now Revival
Berkeley Bites: Ari Derfel and Eric Fenster, Gather Owners
Hospital Food Gets a Makeover

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie Haiken June 26, 2011 at 4:18 am

I read this post aloud to my daughter, who’s wondering if there are career prospects for her love of cooking and food. So excited to hear about this cooking school, which we didn’t know about at all – thanks!

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Sarah Henry June 27, 2011 at 10:14 am

Happy to hear that both you and your daughter found this post useful, Melanie.
Is cooking school in your daughter’s future, perhaps?

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Kerry Dexter June 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm

interesting interview as always, Sarah. thanks.

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Sarah Henry June 30, 2011 at 7:37 am

Pleasure, Kerry.

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Living Large June 30, 2011 at 6:40 am

Wow, the photos of the pots and food are beautiful. I love them. Good interview. Love the idea of a holistic cooking school.

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Sarah Henry June 30, 2011 at 7:38 am

Thanks Living Large, and I think if I were to go to cooking school I’d want to go to one with a holistic approach to food, since that’s how I like to eat.

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Alexandra June 30, 2011 at 7:42 am

Okay, I’m putting out the call. Hi, Berkeley folks who read LEK. Greetings from Wellfleet, MA. Are you looking for a place to practice your new vegetarian cooking skills? How about moving across the country to beautiful Cape Cod? The Outer Cape, where the real ocean is, is sorely lacking in vegetarian eateries, as I wrote on my blog today. Here you would only work four or five months per year, six max, and have the rest of the year to spend back home in the Bay Area. I run a green B&B and often have guests who need vegetarian food. Make it gluten-free and that’s even better. A real business op. for someone out there with $ to invest in a restaurant ….

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Sarah Henry June 30, 2011 at 7:48 am

Sandy, you’re too funny. Who knows, maybe someone will jump at this opportunity. Keep me posted.

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NoPotCooking June 30, 2011 at 9:23 am

I love the idea of holistic cooking! Wish it would take off in my area! I’ve so got to come out and visit your area…

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Sarah Henry June 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Remind me again where you are, NPC? Perhaps you could get something started in your area. By the way, I met a fellow food lover this week who was intrigued by your parchment paper cuisine, so I sent your link her way.

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Sheryl June 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Serious food envy here. We are barren culinary land compared to what is going on in Berkeley!

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Sarah Henry June 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Don’t even get me started on Oakland and San Francisco, some food folks in these towns consider Berkeley culinary old news in comparison.

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Jennifer Margulis June 30, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Whenever I read this blog (which is often), I’m soo impressed by how much is happening on the culinary scene in Berkeley!

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Sarah Henry July 2, 2011 at 6:59 am

Come back for a visit, Jen.

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MyKidsEatSquid July 1, 2011 at 4:57 am

Interesting that her love of food started with her parents and their fascination with Indian food. We’re lucky enough to have some great Indian food/grocers in our area.

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Sarah Henry July 2, 2011 at 7:00 am

Yes, in particular vegetarian Indian cuisine. Apparently all the kids from her family, I think there are 5 or 6 if I recall correctly, have remained non-meat eaters.

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shilpa July 1, 2011 at 6:57 am

Thanks for this great interview, Sarah! I am in holistic nutrition school in Toronto and enjoying the last few weeks of my classes, but wish there was a holistic cooking school to build upon cooking skills in the area.

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Sarah Henry July 2, 2011 at 7:01 am

Welcome, shilpa, and thanks for offering a perspective from outside the area.

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Jane Boursaw July 2, 2011 at 7:51 am

Living in a farming/tourist area in the upper Midwest, I often feel like we’re missing out on some of the forward-thinking restaurants and food philosophies. We had an organic restaurant open in Traverse City a couple of years ago, but it closed down in short order. I don’t know if it was the food so much as the atmosphere. We ate there, and — ok, I don’t really remember the food, which doesn’t bode well — but the atmosphere seemed a little dead. People need to figure out how to get the whole package to make diners come back. I know if we had a great organic or holistic eatery in town that had a nice ambience and awesome food at reasonable prices, we’d be there all the time.

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Sarah Henry July 6, 2011 at 11:46 am

Such a good point, Jane. If the right vibe isn’t there a place isn’t going to thrive. And not every food joint needs to have a groovy atmosphere but some sense of self and a welcoming feel regardless of genre (hipster hangout, hole-in-the-wall, fancy pants restaurant) is crucial. My favorite food places evoke the sensibility of the folks who own and run it.

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Donna Hull July 6, 2011 at 7:14 am

Wonderful interview with great photos. Berkeley must be the center of the food universe. It seems like it from your posts. So many inventive ideas are coming from your area.

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Sarah Henry July 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

Uh, funny you should say that Donna. I am delighted to showcase cool food news from my hometown. Truth is, though, equally interesting stuff going down in Oakland and San Francisco — not to mention further afield — but it just so happens I write a food post for a site called Berkeleyside every week, hence the spotlight on that town’s edible enterprises and food artisans.

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jeanine barone July 6, 2011 at 8:27 am

Good timing on this post. (A well-crafted interview, I must say.) There’s a holistic cooking class that I’m thinking of signing up for here in NYC.

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Sarah Henry July 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

Thanks, Jeanine. Look forward to hearing about the class in NYC. As a nutritionist, you can offer both your personal and professional opinion.

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