Chef Phoebe Schilla The Studio of Good Living

Chef Phoebe Scilla. Photo: Melissa Vogt

Chef Phoebe Schilla is the founder and owner of The Studio of Good Living in San Francisco, which operates as both Phoebe’s family home and also a community kitchen where locals get their hands dirty and learn how to cook a variety of delicious food. Local community members who attend are given the recipes and instructions they need to take the reins and create a meal with group members during the class. After the cooking is finished, everyone enjoys the meal together!

Phoebe was encouraged to experiment in the kitchen by her mother and aunt when she was just a little girl. This upbringing led to her passion for food and the motivation to attend culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, when she was only 19 years old.  Since then Phoebe has cooked in a wide variety of restaurants, and honed her craft even more at The Culinary Institute of America. Since 1999, she’s settled down in the Bay Area and is currently spreading her passion for culinary adventure with locals.

The Local Dish was lucky enough to attend the Italian Small Plates class and learn a few things about Italian cooking! Explore cooking tips and recipes with us below.

with fresh ricotta and farmer’s market tomatoesThe menu featured these wonderful traditional Italian delights:

  • Lemon parmesan risotto and arancini (breaded risotto balls)
  • Fresh alfredo pasta and rigatoni with spicy ground chicken bolognese sauce
  • Artichoke heart caponata
  • Spinach sformata

Participants are split up into groups and then given guidance by Chef Phoebe throughout the preparation of the meal. Everyone is encouraged to try new things and not be afraid to make mistakes. Phoebe offers tips she’s learned throughout her professional career to the class to guide beginners in the right direction. Some helpful guidance:

Tips from the Chef

  • Place a wet paper towel underneath your cutting board to prevent it from sliding around when you’re using it.
  • To pit an olive, smoosh it and then the skin just slides off.
  • Never put oil in a cold pot. Since oil is very viscous, it will spread out more easily over a hot surface, allowing you to use much less.
  • The trick to making a good risotto is stirring. The Italians say you need to stir in a figure eight.
  • When trying to crack an egg with one hand, if you get a shell in there, just use a larger part of the shell to get it out.
  • You know pasta is al dente when you bite into it and it feels like you’re biting into a stick of gum.

Of all the dishes we made and sampled, the fresh ricotta was by far the simplest recipe and very gratifying. “Fresh ricotta is a completely easy and delicious thing to make. You will impress all your friends at your next dinner party,” Phoebe says with a smile.  She’s definitely right! All you have to do is stir equal parts whole milk and buttermilk together over high heat at a constant rate and you will have fresh ricotta in about ten minutes. Once the ricotta cools, you can add a pinch of salt and maybe even some fresh oregano or basil from the garden.

“I think everybody should learn how to cook and live a healthy lifestyle,” Phoebe says.  Her classes are just one good way to do exactly that.  She holds classes on a regular basis in The Studio of Good Living, and is looking forward to meeting more community members at future gatherings.

To see what kind of classes she’s holding in the coming months, you can visit the event calendar on her website. Sign up, join in, and learn the art of cooking and good living!

Try a few recipes from the class at home:

Lemon Parmesan Risotto with Arancini
Fresh Pasta with Spicy Chicken Bolognese Sauce