For Immediate Release – March 19, 2006
Olivier Said and Chef MikeC. open KITCHEN ON FIRE in Berkeley’s Epicurious Garden New culinary school for home chefs slices and dices the way cooking has been taught for decades There’s something new cooking in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, and it’s not another restaurant. Author and restaurateur Olivier Said has partnered with well-known culinary instructor and caterer Chef MikeC. to launch KITCHEN ON FIRE – a cutting-edge new school designed to teach food lovers how to cook and entertain like a professional. Built around their shared philosophy that learning should be fun, KITCHEN ON FIRE doesn’t even look like a school. Rather, you’ll think you just stepped into an upscale downtown San Francisco loft. At one end, floor to ceiling sliding doors open onto a balcony with a birds-eye view of bustling Shattuck Avenue. The front half of the 2400-square foot space features a state-of-the-art kitchen where hands-on classes, demonstrations and lectures will be presented by a changing repertoire of executive chefs from top Bay Area restaurants, visiting culinary celebrities, food-related experts, and the owners themselves. Among its unique offerings will also be culinary tours throughout the region, corporate team building workshops, in-home classes, classes for kids, and private instruction and other events. Ingredients will feature organic and natural products as much as possible. A complete schedule will soon be posted at www.KitchenOnFire.com, where students can register online and gift certificates can be purchased. KITCHEN ON FIRE occupies the entire second floor of the just-opened Epicurious Garden, located in the 1500 block of Shattuck Avenue. The area has become a world-renowned Mecca for foodies, since Alice Waters revolutionized contemporary cuisine through her landmark Chez Panisse Restaurant, just two doors down.
Across the street is the definitive Cheese Board, with its curded milk pleasures from around the world. Next door is the César Tapas Bar, one of the Bay Area’s most popular watering holes – which Olivier Said helped build into local fame as a managing partner. Around the corner is the original Grégoire Restaurant, which has been at the forefront of re-inventing traditional takeout. There’s also numerous fine wine shops and other specialty businesses ideal for discriminating tastes. KITCHEN ON FIRE’s gallery-like environment has been equipped with high-end KitchenAid built-ins and small appliances, Analon cookware, Furitechnics professional cutlery, and BonJour hand tools, among other accessories. About Chef MikeC. Chef MikeC. who has led over 1500 classes to date on every culinary topic imaginable. A graduate with honors from the California Culinary Academy, he joined Sur La Table’s staff in early 2002, then spent the next two years helping manage and lead their Bay Area cooking schools. He also served as a frequent visiting instructor at their Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and San Diego venues. One of the leading authorities on knife skills, MikeC. serves with Rachel Ray as a national spokesperson for Furitechnics, based in Australia. An expert on home entertaining, he founded Party Lifestyles in 2003, and is the former co-owner of San Francisco-based catering company, Xfusion, which created the concept of turning private parties into exciting cooking events that guests could participate in. As well, he has led corporate team building cooking events for myriad companies, including GAP, Yahoo, Microsoft, Adobe, GE Capitol, and Charles Schwab. About Olivier Said Born and raised in France, Olivier Said is a 5th generation restaurateur who began working in his mother’s Paris restaurant as a teenager. During the last eight years, he served as a managing partner at César – and at the same time co-authored two highly-successful books – CÉSAR: Recipes from a Tapas Bar, which was selected as one of the Top 10 Cookbooks of 2003 by Food & Wine magazine, and THE BAR: A Spirited Guide to Cocktail Alchemy, published last November. In the late 1980s, Said owned one of the most successful restaurant nightclubs in Paris, called Texas Coyote. *** MEDIA CONTACT: Foggia+Associates PR – (661) 259-6561 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Chef MikeC. Co-owner/Executive Chef Few know as much about the art of teaching cooking as Chef MikeC., who has led over a thousand classes to date. A graduate with honors from the elite California Culinary Academy, MikeC. joined Sur La Table’s staff in early 2002, then spent the next two years as a resident instructor and manager of their in-store culinary program. He was also a traveling guest instructor who appeared frequently at their Portland, Los Angeles and San Diego venues. The secret to his teaching technique? “I break things down into real world terms,” he says. “I always explain the science behind everything. If you understand the why and something goes wrong, you know what it is. You can adapt, you can make things work – if you understand it. Those are the times when I see those twinkles in people’s eyes. When they truly understand it, they’re like, wow, that was cool!” Regarded as an authority on home entertaining, MikeC. founded Party Lifestyle in 2003, and is the former co-owner of Xfusion – one of the originators of the concept of turning private parties into exciting cooking events that guests participate in. He also has also led countless corporate team building cooking events for myriad companies, including GAP, Yahoo, Microsoft, Adobe, GE Capitol, and Charles Schwab. Even though he hailed from a long line of scientists and engineers, it’s not surprising that MikeC. chose the culinary arts. After all, how many kids were preparing full meals by the first grade. Raised in Rochester, NY, he spent every Sunday afternoon with his family, who glued themselves to the TV set from mid-morning until evening, watching back-to-back cooking featuring such celebrated chefs as Julia Child, Graham Kerr (“The Galloping Gourmet”), and Martin Yan (“Yan Can Cook”). “Mom and Dad got us into the kitchen as soon as we could stand on a stool,” he recalls. “I was taught all the basics by the time I could see over the kitchen counter. We had to have at least cooked a meal by the time were five or six.” Growing up, while other boys worshipped sports stars, MikeC. most admired Chef Martin Yan. “He was my big inspiration. I screamed I would work with that guy one day. He was the one who taught me one of the biggest rules that I live by – it has to be fun and it has to be funny,
because that’s how you capture their attention.” Indeed, almost two decades later, MikeC. would finally work with Yan at Sur La Table. MikeC.’s father, a biochemistry professor (“and quite the nutty professor in the garden and kitchen,” his son laughs), was in charge of the family garden. “It was all organic, from the way he did his mulching and composting to what kind of nutrients were right for certain crops and how to rotate them. He also created his own cross-breeds and hybrids – such as chocolate jalapeno peppers – and made his own wine and beer.” MikeC.’s mother and grandmother were the Martha Stewart’s of their generation. Whatever the occasion – from holidays and birthdays to neighborhood gatherings and Tupperware parties – they were “always doing all the food and setting up the buffets. We always had a proper buffet at home,” he says with a chuckle. By the time he was a teenager, MikeC. had mastered “a nice repertoire of dishes. Towards the end of high school it occurred to me that my upbringing was pretty unique. Many of my friends hardly sat down to dinner with their families, let alone learned how to cook or entertain.” By the time, he was a junior in high school, he had decided on a career in dentistry. But when graduation rolled around, MikeC. decided to table college for a while and began working in a local natural foods store. Over the next three years, he became the bulk foods and sports nutrition manager – at the same time becoming an expert on organic and natural products. In 2000, MikeC. started his first catering business, then moved across country to San Francisco a year later to study in the elite California Culinary Academy’s Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts program. For the next year, he put in 80-hour weeks while working under some of the most respected names in the industry. It was a major turning point in his career. “When you learn food in a restaurant, you learn only the cuisine that chef serves. You don’t learn the how’s and why’s. That was the cool thing about culinary school – it was intense as hell, but you learn how to cook everything. It was definitely an amazing experience. It also helped me to understand how to translate this to other people,” he says. Following graduation, MikeC. landed a position as the coordinator for Sur La Table’s Bay Area cooking schools, hired and trained by Chef Richard Chapman, now an executive chef in Kansas City. Within months, he was given full responsibility for the program – including teaching classes and scheduling and assisting celebrity chefs visiting the region. At the same time, MikeC. co-founded Xfusion Personal Chef Services – which became an overnight sensation as a catering company with a twist. “We discovered right away that everybody wants to be in the kitchen. The guests would ask, What are you doing? What are you making? At first, we tried kicking them out. By our second job, we caught on that this is a good thing: let’s bring them in, and start teaching them what we’re doing.”
Xfusion also became a trail blazer in helping clients plan the ultimate event â€“ from parties to fundraisers and corporate gatherings â€“ from picking a theme to designing the invitations, environment and menu. ***
Olivier Said Co-Owner During the last eight years, Olivier Said has become one of the East Bay’s most popular culinary personalities, as a managing partner in Berkeley’s acclaimed César Tapas Bar. At the same time, he co-authored two highly-successful books – CÉSAR: Recipes from a Tapas Bar, which was selected as one of the Top 10 Cookbooks of 2003 by Food & Wine magazine, and THE BAR: A Spirited Guide to Cocktail Alchemy, published last November. Born and raised in France, Said literally grew up in the business – the descendant of at least five generations of restaurateurs in France, dating back to the early 1800s. As a child, he often heard stories about his great-grandfather’s country inn, the Hotel Restaurant Des Chasseurs in central France, founded by his great-great-grandfather around the turn of the 19th century. His great-grandmother ran the cafe/boucherie (butcher shop) next door. Besides its regular menu, the hotel specialized in preparing the wild game that weekend hunters brought in to dine on. Though never formally schooled in the culinary arts, Said was introduced into the profession at an early age. After a two-month journey throughout Europe with a classmate, he began working as a dishwasher in the kitchen of his mother’s successful Paris restaurant, Les Halles, at the age of 15. Before long, he was also preparing desserts and appetizers. At the age of 18, he enrolled in a flight school in the south of France and spent the next two years working a grueling schedule of double shifts, seven days a week, in a pizzeria to pay for lessons. Upon obtaining his pilot’s license, Said headed to the U.S., landing in Los Angeles, where he worked for two of the city’s top restaurants, among other stints. The first was Ken Frank’s LaToque Restaurant, a popular celebrity hang-out that was one of the first in the country to feature California nouvelle cuisine. Even though Said had never mixed drinks professionally and barely spoke English, Frank made him the bartender. Said had just one week to learn the essentials on how to make everything from gimlets, whiskey sours and margaritas to Mai Tais and Hurricanes. “That’s basically what people were drinking then, the classics. They were also discovering wine,” he says.
Olivier Said Biography -2Several years later he became a bartender at the L.A. jazz club, the Nucleus Nuance, then spent a year as a waiter at Le Dome, where he regularly waited on Hollywood icons like Elizabeth Taylor, Elton John and California’s now governor when he was just the “Terminator.” In 1987, Said returned to Paris and opened his first restaurant, Texas Coyote. It was such a success that he had to move the operation to bigger quarters to house its three bars and late night club. In 1994, after several years trying to fight the city’s then-corrupt legal system, he was forced to close it. Left with nothing, he went to work for a friend in a Taqueria stand for $40 a day until he could earn the $800 necessary to return to the U.S. “It was interesting to go from owning two well-known restaurants in Paris to a taco stand cook,” he reflects with a laugh. “The hardest part was when a old client would recognize me and ask what are you going to do next. I had to tell them they shouldn’t worry, I have a plan. I just didn’t know what it was!” Once back in Los Angeles, he got a call from his old friend, Richard Mazzera, the former manager at LaToque who had gone on to become the business manager at Chez Panisse for 13 years. Mazzera invited Said to become a partner in an innovative new tapas bar – to be called César – that he was starting with two other Chez Panisse alumni. Said leaped at the chance and headed up to Berkeley. To his surprise, the place had yet to be built. Indeed, he would spend the next four months helping convert a former dry cleaning shop into the Mediterrean-style tapas bar that would become one of the Bay Area’s celebrated restaurants. Located next door to Alice Waters’ culinary landmark, the tiny 60-seat restaurant was an instant hit with both Berkeley foodies and food critics who loved its truly unique Spanish-style menu and world-class wine-and-spirits list. The San Francisco Food Lover’s Guide hailed it as “one of the greatest bars in the world in terms of quality of spirits, selection, and mixology.” Among other accolades, it was voted one of the best restaurants in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle for five years in a row, and featured in such national publications, as Gourmet magazine. In September 2003, CÉSAR: RECIPES FROM A TAPAS BAR was published, written by Said and James Mellgren with César chef Maggie Pond. Among other accolades, it was named one of the Top 10 Cookbooks of the year by Food & Wine magazine. The popular cookbook features more than 50 tapas recipes and 50 mixed drinks (including the restaurant’s signature cocktails, the Lucky 13, the Marius, and the Three-Citrus Margarita). Always on a quest to perfect the César experience for its legion of devout fans, Said began working on a definitive handbook for its bartenders and waiters to help answer customers’
Olivier Said Biography -3questions about the over 500 liquors from around the world served by the bar. The result was the just-published book, THE BAR, co-written by Said and James Mellgren. Both books were released by Ten Speed Press. ***
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 28, 2007 – Berkeley, CA
Kitchen on Fire® Launches New MTVstyle DVD Series for Home Chefs “Mastering Knife Skills” to debut in early December View Trailer Take a big scoop of the absolute essentials that time-stressed cooks really want to know. Sprinkle in a dollop of zany humor to keep it light and lively. Mix it up with a fast-paced buffet of special effects for those who would rather be doing anything but learning how to cook. Then bake one hour or less. The result? A new series of MTV-style DVDs from KITCHEN ON FIRE® designed to inspire more 18- to 35-year-old’s to tie on an apron, while giving technique-obsessed kitchen divas plenty to chew on. Debuting in early December, the first release – “MASTERING KNIFE SKILLS: CuttingEdge Tips, Tricks & Techniques Used by Professional Chefs” – features one of the West Coast’s most popular cooking instructors, Chef MikeC., with appearances by his KITCHEN ON FIRE partner, award-winning cookbook author Chef Olivier Said. One of the culinary world’s fast-emerging media personalities, MikeC. was recently selected by Meyer Corporation – the world’s largest distributor of cookware – to host Circulon’s “Hungry Bytes,” the first-ever cooking webisode series; two live broadcasts, for KitchenAid and Anolon, on Macy’s national satellite network; and an Anolon training video for Macy’s employees. Recently hailed as “Food Network-Ready” by San Francisco magazine, MikeC. has also been a frequent guest, including with Said, on the hit television show, ABC7’s “View From the Bay.”
KITCHEN ON FIRE Announces New DVD Series -2-
A must for every home chef, “Mastering Knife Skills” is the first DVD to demystify the arcane art of using a knife, based on a system so simple that it can be applied to literally anything edible on the planet. An action-packed 45 minutes, divided into bite-size chapters for easy navigation, the content has been vented through hundreds of knife skills classes taught by MikeC. since 2002. A sell-out wherever the class has been presented, it was named by San Francisco Magazine in June as one of the best-ever for “honing your inner chef.” “Mastering Knife Skills” will be launched with a penetrating national publicity campaign, supported with a multi-city appearance tour featuring Chef MikeC. Both the strategy and implementation is being provided by Foggia Public Relations LLC., the firm responsible for the ground-breaking campaign that launched the daytime television show, “LIVE With Regis & Kathie Lee,” and a key member of the marketing teams on over 75 major motion pictures. The initial wave of consumer publicity will target food editors and writers at over 2000 daily and weekly newspapers, monthly magazines, radio and TV shows and Internet sites and forums during December. VIEW TRAILER
Distributors and retailers can contact KITCHEN ON FIRE Productions at email@example.com.
PRODUCT DETAILS “MASTERING KNIFE SKILLS: Cutting-Edge Tips, Tricks & Techniques Used by Professional Chefs” Featuring Chef MikeC. with Chef Olivier Said KITCHEN ON FIRE® The Basic Series Running Time: 45 minutes Suggested Retail Price: $14.95 Contents 1: Types of Knives
7: Bell Peppers
2: Holding the Knife
3: Sharpening & Honing
4: The Cutting Station
5: Cutting Techniques
6: Slice, Stick, Cube
KITCHEN ON FIRE Announces New DVD Series -313: Herbs
15: Knife Safety
16: Cleaning & Storing
ABOUT KITCHEN ON FIRE® Founded in early 2006, KITCHEN ON FIRE quickly became a Mecca for food lovers on a quest for the essence of a professional education without the drudgery or expense. They found it in the school’s sizzling roster of hands-on classes, presented in its zen-like loft space within footsteps of Alice Waters’ worldfamous Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. “The classes are definitely not boring at Kitchen on Fire,” Diablo Magazine reported after observing one. “Jokes fill the demonstrations, and while the instruction is sound, the atmosphere is never serious.” For more information, visit www.KitchenOnFire.com. An honors graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Chef MikeC. is one of the Bay Area’s most popular instructors. After beginning his professional career in the mid-1990s in upstate New York and moving to San Francisco in 2001 to study at CCA, MikeC. co-founded Xfusion Personal Chef Services - one of the originators of the concept of turning private parties into exciting cooking events for guests to participate in. While still in school, he was also hired to co-manage and teach at Sur La Table's San Francisco culinary school. Within months, MikeC. was put in charge of the program, which included assisting such visiting celebrity chefs as Martin Yan, Jamie Oliver, Alton Brown and Michael Chiarello. In 2003, he founded Party Lifestyles and taught international cuisines at cooking schools and retail outlets up and down the West Coast. At the same time, he became the official spokesperson for Furi Knives, appearing at trade shows and culinary fairs around the country to demonstrate proper knife skills. Over the years, MikeC. has led countless corporate team building cooking events for such companies as GAP, Yahoo, Microsoft, Adobe, GE Capitol, and Charles Schwab. Born and raised in France, Chef Olivier Said is the descendant of at least five generations of restaurateurs in France, dating back to the early 1800s. After beginning his career at the age of 15 in his mother’s Paris restaurant, he moved to Los Angeles in the early 1980s, and worked at Ken Frank's LaToque, one the first restaurants in the country to feature California nouvelle cuisine. In 1987, Said returned to Paris and opened his own restaurant, the popular Texas Coyote, which included three sprawling bars and a night club. After returning to the States in the late 1990s, he joined the management team at Berkeley's César Tapas Bar, founded by three Chez Panisse alumni. Said has co-authored two notable cookbooks: CÉSAR: Recipes from a Tapas Bar (named one of the year’s Ten Best by Food
KITCHEN ON FIRE Announces New DVD Series -4-
and Wine magazine in 2003) and THE BAR: A Spirited Guide to Cocktail Alchemy. He also writes a regular column for Trump magazine.
MEDIA CONTACT Lyla Foggia Foggia Public Relations LLC (503) 622-0232 firstname.lastname@example.org