Teaching at Rancho La Puerta is always full of surprises. The guests who sign up for my classes are a diverse group of extremely accomplished people from all walks of life. But in the kitchen, we’re all equals, because in the time we have together there is one aim: to cook a menu of seven recipes in two hours and to sit and enjoy the meal together. Cooking is all about the pleasures of the table and the sense of community it fosters.
At my first class, Dana Shaltry, a pediatric orthodontist, volunteered to make the dessert, a rustic French pear galette. I had demonstrated how to make the ground almond bases and pastry with a food processor, and Dana took it from there. He rolled the dough into a rough circle, cut the pears into thin slices, and arranged the fruit beautifully over the ground almonds.