A cooking school simmers in the Mission


A new business is cooking in the neighborhood — in more ways that one.

Jen Nurse and Chris Bonomo are working to turn an office space near 25th and Mission streets into a cooking school slated to open this fall. Yet-to-be named, it will offer a variety of classes geared to home cooks.

A former baker, Nurse said she and fiancé Bonomo hope to contribute something positive to the neighborhood and bring more life to an often sleepy block of Mission Street.

“We’re super focused on getting people to connect with each other through learning to cook,” she added.

Nurse and Bonomo purchased the building, at 2961 Mission St., last month. They plan to leave an upstairs apartment as is, while outfitting the ground level space, previously home to a beverage catering company, with a teaching area and cooking stations. Students will also be able to enjoy a glass of wine.

The couple is working with an architect and engineers to design the space, then they will need to get a building permit approved before beginning construction, this spring, they hope. Nurse and Bonomo are happy to have one early challenge solved: figuring out the appropriate zoning. While the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has a designation for cooking schools that serve alcohol, the city does not. Because it will serve wine, the planning department ultimately decided the school should be classified as a restaurant. Their use permit was approved at the end of January.

The school will offer courses, both sweet and savory, for children and adults and touch on everything from how to cut vegetables to making a fancy meal. Taking a jab at a now-shuttered gambling den that used to operate a few doors down, Bonomo noted that some of the classes will take place at night.

“Just not at 2 a.m. like our former neighbor,” he said.

Nurse, who used to make wedding cakes and owned a bakery in Seattle, said she fell in love with teaching after being asked to lead a class here at Tante Marie’s Cooking School. Not wanting to start over in the bakery business, she decided to go back to school to get more skills on the savory side.

Nurse said she enjoys not just feeding, but helping people.

“With teaching you are with someone all the way through the process,” she said.

Bonomo, who describes himself as more of the “finance guy,” said that he appreciates how food — and cooking — can help bring people together.

“American cuisine is really a melting pot,” he added. “We love that and showing people where all the pieces come from.”

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