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Fire + Fish + Beer Recap

5 Jun


Skill Exchange! One of the best things to come from organizing these events are the new friends and collaborators I’ve gotten to know. I single-mindedly focused on the student-side of things when I first started Skill Exchange, but one of the most rewarding parts has been this growing network of teachers and makers. For every stressful moment, there seems to be a creative counterpart– a good conversation, a shared resource, a new idea. Fishmongers, photographers, makers, printers, chefs– I’ve learned so much and had so many opportunities to grow my practice and work with inspiring and challenging makers. James Tucker, of The Aesthetic Union is one of the those makers. We met through the Skill Exchange network a few years ago and now frequently collaborate on client projects as well as personal ones. James is a pressman that uses just the right combination of humor, know-how and hard work.

During the planning process back in early May, James offered to help out with a special print project to share with students during our May event. He suggested letterpress menus, for our grilled lunch– and within about 48 hours, I sketched some illustrative bits, Edible SF Editor Bruce Cole put together a summery meal of grilled fish and seasonal vegetables. I handed the menu file off to James– no nit-picky color, additional plates or other requirements (I’m good at that part, you can ask James). I told James to go for it, and this is was his contribution to the project. Beautiful splint fountain, and wonderfully textured paper with a raw edge, and some serious printing skill. Its not often that I can comfortably close my eyes and hand off a project to someone else– but working with James is a delight.

Fire + Fish + Beer Skill Exchange
I also worked with the amazingly talented Kimberley Hasselbrink, photographer, author, food blogger and all around San Francisco lady-business powerhouse. Kimberley shared a recipe and tasting at the May event, but she also worked throughout, documenting the day for Skill Exchange. It is a real pleasure to hand off the responsibility of documentation to someone as talented as Kimberley. I am frequently the organizer/host/photographer/micro-manager during all Skill Exchange events — its a task I take on because I for the most part, like all of those things, but its sometimes hard to step outside the roles in the moment to see and experience the events with fresh eyes.

During a workshop, I’m frequently thinking ahead to what needs to be lined up or prepped, or whats missing, or what might go wrong– so I often miss out on small moments. Receiving the event photos from Kimberley was like Christmas, I was seeing so many sweet moments for the very first time. Honestly, look at these faces below! Serious determination to shuck that oyster in the foreground and total delight in the background as one of our students plucks his first oyster out of the shell. This stuff makes me feel almost weepy!

Fire + Fish + Beer Skill ExchangeFire + Fish + Beer Skill ExchangeFire + Fish + Beer Skill ExchangeFire + Fish + Beer Skill ExchangeFire + Fish + Beer Skill Exchange
Who am I kidding here, I DO feel very emotional looking at all these photos. If you’d like to see more photos by Kimberley, the whole set is now available on the newly redesigned Skill Exchange website,


$100 goes a long way

7 May

The unofficial mantra of Skill Exchange is quite simple: Share skills, have fun, learn something new. Repeat. Easy, right? Skill Exchange is all about breaking down seemingly complicated skills into manageable parts and sharing those parts with eager, but sometimes uncertain beginners. We work with passionate makers who are excited to share their craft with a curious audience. We want to make sometimes under-appreciated and under-practiced hand making skills more approachable for those who don’t have much experience or background knowledge.

The ticket price of $100 may seem a bit high on first glance, but it includes 6+ workshops, tastings, demos, a printed resource guide and a complete grilled lunch of local salmon, vegetables, and other treats prepared by our teachers. Many of our workshops, like this one are one-off events, never to be repeated.  Spots are limited in all our workshops to maintain an intimate and casual atmosphere, where its easy to ask questions and connect with the material.

Tickets $100 per person for the full day of workshops, tastings and picnic OR buy two tickets and save $10.
Tickets available at:


11AM Welcome + Introductions

The Year in Food  | Kimberley Hasselbrink
To kick off the day, Kimberley will share a recipe from her forthcoming cookbook Vibrant Food. We’ll taste Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing -a refreshing tangle of noodles made from summer squash, tossed with a bright and zesty yogurt-based Green Goddess Dressing, and garnished with fresh herbs, pine nuts and shaved parmesan cheese. It’s perfect outdoor eating!

Town Cutler | Instructor Galen Garretson
While we enjoy the tasting, Galen will teach a basic 3-step process for sharpening knives at home using Japanese Whetstones. This lesson includes a discussion on knife safety and demo of essential knife skills for every home chef. We dare you to stump this knife master, his knife knowledge will astound!

Fermenters Club | Instructor Austin Durant
Austin will teach about the joys, history and benefits of KIMCHI, a traditional Korean fermented vegetable dish. You’ll get to sample some mature AND young kimchi, then watch a live demo to learn how it’s made!

Siren Fish Co. | Instructor Anna Barr Larsen
Anna will lead us through a comprehensive lesson on what to look for + what to avoid when buying fresh fish. Anna will demonstrate some home seafood prep basics, including how to scale a fish, gut a sardine, shuck an oyster, debone a fish and more. We’ll discuss methods of seafood preservation (freezing, poaching, pickling, smoking and drying). We’ll get some hands-on experience gutting sardines, as well as shucking (and eating!) oysters!

Edible San Francisco Magazine | Instructor Bruce Cole
Edible San Francisco Magazine Editor Bruce Cole will demonstrate some grilling basics, including what fuels to use and why, best ways to start your fire as well as the pros and cons of direct vs. indirect grilling. He’ll also give us the low-down on grilling vegetables, fruits and of course, seafood. Bruce will show us how to break down and fillet whole salmon (now in season!) We’ll gather around the grill as Bruce demonstrates everything from start to finish. This workshop will transition into a full meal shared family style.

HenHouse Brewing Company | Instructor Collin McDonnell
Collin will lead a beer tasting with a focus on everyday food and beer pairing including accessible beers from the grocery store. This conversation will include matching beer intensity to your food, as well as complimentary and contrasting flavors.

Grilled Picnic  | Q & A Session
After our lessons and tastings, we’ll come together for a grilled meal served family style! We’ll sample barbecued oysters and grilled sardines, as Bruce Cole and instructors prepare a savory, sweet and spicy meal of grilled salmon and seasonal vegetables, kimchi and grilled peaches. Everyone will enjoy the meal together outdoors (if weather permits) with an informal Q&A with all our teachers. You’ll be sent home with a full belly and a resource guide, including recipes and how-tos from all of our teachers.

Tickets now on sale!

2 May


Go, go go get em! Tickets are now on sale for our May 17th event at Storefrontlab. Buy your ticket early and get $10 off while they last! ‘Early Bird’ Tickets are $90, and regular tickets are $100. A bargain at either price, I promise. 6 workshops, a hearty meal, plus up close and personal conversations with all our teachers. Only 25 tickets are available and are expected to sell out. Buy your ticket here!


Fire + Fish + Beer: New Skill Exchange event May 17th

29 Apr

Skill Exchange May 17thSkill Exchange, May 17 2014
The latest and in my completely biased opinion, greatest workshop lineup was just announced over at I am thrilled about this event– every single one of the 6 (and counting!) workshops on May 17th is on a topic that I am so excited to be presenting. These are the workshops my dreams are made of. Brand new teachers, brand new skills, and a whole new format! Instead of 6 completely separate workshops, we’ve created a whole new collaborative event. Each workshop builds on the next, with the day culminating in a shared meal of grilled fish and seasonal vegetables. Tickets are $100, and include all the workshops, plus lunch! For early risers, and early buyers, we’re offering a handful of tickets for $10 off, while they last. Tickets go on sale Friday May 2nd at 8AM. Get at em!

Night at the Museum

13 Jan


Last week we brought Skill Exchange into the new year with NightLife at California Academy of Sciences. Skill Exchange was joined by many other presenters and demonstrations, and oh, thousands of skill-hungry people. It was a very energetic and fun night, thanks to (cocktails and) our teachers.We’d been prepped by the NightLife team about the popularity of the event, but until you’re actually in Africa Hall with several thousand people with cocktails in hand, you’re really not sure what to expect. Next time, we’ll bring more backup volunteers to help us address questions and talk about the workshops, and I think we’ll bring even more teachers, because I think the crowds would have loved even more demonstrations. All of our teachers did a great job with the crowds, and were probably all a little hoarse the next day like me. Spending the evening in Africa Hall was a bit surreal, but very, very entertaining. Also, 1,000 mozzarella samples were hand pulled, then shared by Ragazza over the course of the evening. INSANE!

For a recap of the evening with more photos and information about each of our teachers, visit the Skill Exchange blog.

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