Chefs John Rutherford and Matthew Fast are pleased and honored to provide culinary classes to the local community and neighborhoods by teaching with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks at the various "Rec Centers" around town.
Rutherford has a life long passion for cooking and baking and is excited to be able to share his knowledge with children and adults.
Through programs like "Petite Bakers" and "Future Chefs" Rutherford, Fast and other chefs are able to share cooking and baking expertise with an audience that gets to take home with them the joys of cooking. "Petite Bakers is comprised of kids ages three to six and they constantly surprise me," he said. "They get an idea and they just go with it," said Rutherford as he explained the tremendous enthusiasm and energy the students have in learning the very basics of food preparation and cooking.
No knives or sharp utensils are used in the Petite Bakers class. "I teach basic skills and safety in the kitchen, noted Rutherford, like how to crack open an egg, how to weigh, measure out and combine ingredients properly. I use recipes that are fun and simple."
The Future Chefs class is for kids ages 8 to 12 who have more advanced skills. "The kids in that age group are more independent in the various skills and the recipes are a little more complicated, such as learning how to bake fish in parchment paper," said Rutherford.
In both classes for kids Rutherford focuses on more than just learning how to make something from a recipe. "I teach them the importance of healthy, safe and proper food preparation and cooking; things like how to avoid cross contamination of raw foods; keeping food prep and cooking areas clean, washing of hands, utensils; teaching them awareness about salmonella and e-coli bacteria."
Rutherford also likes to incorporate the understanding of where fruits and vegetables comes from; that they are grown in the soil and go from the farm to the market to the kitchen, and finally to the cook who prepares it for the table. He stresses how important it is for kids to learn that food is precious and should be cherished. I try and make a positive impact on the kids that they can take home and share with their families. "I was often sick as a child and I remember how my mother empowered me and gave me the opportunity to help in the kitchen when I was little said Rutherford, I got my passion for cooking from my mother," he said. Rutherford noted that learning how to cook and bake is a real self-esteem booster for a young person.
"What makes me really happy is hearing from parents that their kids now enjoy helping out in the kitchen and that making meals can be a way for families to bond in a group effort to prepare food."
A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu culinary program, Rutherford expands his culinary skills and talents to include the family pet. "I hold an A.S. degree in veterinary technology and is a Registered Veterinary Technician," he said. Rutherford believes that everyone in the family should eat healthy fresh meals and that includes the family pet. Pets do not attend the classes. Yet every pet-friendly recipe in class is designed for the canine or feline.
Not to advocate that pets should be fed people food. Yet taking the time to recognize that our pets, specifically dogs and cats should eat foods that are good for them, is important. Not all people food is good for our pets, especially sugar.
"Bow Wow Baking Class" is an initiative proposed by Rutherford to Rec. & Park, developed to teach dog owners how to make healthy dog meals and treats," said Rutherford. Many people don't know that dogs do not digest gluten very well and artificial sweeteners like 'Splenda' are toxic to dogs. “Yes, that’s true said Anthony Smith, DVM of Rainbow Bridge Pet Services. Smith has known Rutherford for 10 years. “And, things like raisins, grapes, onions and chocolate can be toxic,” he said. Smith noted that Rutherford has even created an entire product line of all-natural treats for dogs. “My dog loves John’s biscuits,” said Smith.
Cooking, baking and preparing meals and food items at home allows people to provide that extra bit of care that seems to be lacking in over processed and fast food people consume these days. "I want to help people take the fear and anxiety out of cooking and with facilities like the professional kitchen at the Richmond Recreation Center, the experience will be helpful, uplifting and fun," he said. The course is also offered at the Noe Valley Recreation Center.
Rutherford hopes to be able to offer more classes, especially to adults. Courses in home canning, which Rutherford calls "Food in Jars." This will not be your grandmother's way of canning," he said. "This is a more up-to-date method, using a hot water bath process, no pressure cookers," he said. Look for Rutherford's class schedule in next year's San Francisco Rec and Parks catalog
Rutherford is glad that these classes are being offered through San Francisco Rec and Parks because "this makes cooking classes more affordable and accessible to everyone."
For more information [url=http:// https://www.sfreconline.org/Start/Start.asp t=_blank]visit the San Francisco Recreation and Parks web site.