After several years of voluntarily managing the hot lunch program at a local elementary school, Lisa Evaristo decided to go pro. The combination of her lunch program experience and personal qualifications as a knowledgable home cook led her to open Back to the Table, a unique cooking and baking school located in Lafayette.
Evaristo’s Back to the Table partner is her sister, Leslie Pease. The two were raised in a family where shared meals were the norm and not the exception. As youth, they often cooked together from scratch using local ingredients gathered at nearby farms and items harvested from their own family garden – long before sustainability was ‘in.’
A 2001 family trip to Florence, Italy, where they participated in a cooking school, re-ignited their love of family and food. The shared experience of purchasing, preparing, cooking and dining inspired the two and they vowed to one day open their own version of their Florentine adventure.
Back to the Table is the result of the two sisters’ passion for food, family, friends and entertaining….all elements readily found within a Back to the Table cooking class. Gourmet food, check. Friends both old and new, check. Laughter and amusement, check. New techniques and increased cooking knowledge, check.
A typical class begins at the seasonally decorated table, as the highly experienced cooking instructor previews the menu. Students then work in small groups under the watchful instructor’s eye at the studio’s large prep island, and move to the commercial stove-top as needed. The atmosphere is light-hearted and festive and the instruction is suited to both novices and experts.
The finished meal, typically four dishes plus a dessert, is served buffet style; Students help themselves, and head back to the table to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The atmosphere is warm and welcoming; Singles, couples, girlfriend groups, moms, dads, sons and daughters all feel right at home. Of the fourteen students at a recent Wine Harvest Dinner Party class, most were strangers. But by the end of the three-hour instruction and dining period, friendships had been made and business cards exchanged.
Back to the Table is ideal for special events and can be reserved for showers, corporate team building, and birthday parties. Pick a theme, such as French Countryside Dining, Taste of Greece, or Vietnamese Street Food. The calendar found on their website lists all classes, including special workshops for basics such as sauces, soups and roasting. Classes for middle and high school students are popular and fill-up quickly.
Back to the Table also features a state-of-the-art production kitchen that meets the basic legal and regulatory requirements for retail food sales.
By creating Back to the Table, Evaristo and Pease aim to share their passion for good food, good times, and shared family meals. The happy and satisfied faces seen at a recent evening class are evidence they have succeeded.
Back to the Table
271 Lafayette Circle
Lafayette, CA 94549