Cook With James, cooking teacher

Cook With James

Cook With James

location_on SF, San Francisco

local_activity classes: Italian CookingCooking

5.0 (77)
Instagram followers23k

James grew up on a 50 acre horse farm near the Salinas Valley. His great grandfather emigrated from Yugoslavia into the Central Valley and started an apple farm. His grandfather later moved to the very fertile Salinas Valley and started one of the first produce companies. It was called Sun Harvest. My mother raised us mostly on local fruits and vegetables though there was still the occasional cooking “out of a can” given the generation. Canned beets! The one thing we always had was a bowl of fresh fruit, cut up and put into a bowl for us before we went to bed.

James earned a masters in Spanish literature and linguistics through Middlebury College and lived in Spain for two years. He later entered into the technology business and worked at various advertising agencies in San Francisco over a 12 year period. Along the way he started cooking as "therapy" for his corporate day job. CookWithJames was created 15 years ago as an underground supper club. James would prepare multiple course regional Italian and Spanish dinners in his home for guests and friends. James staged at Quince restaurant after they opened in 2004, and has also lived and cooked in both Italy and Spain. After leaving his day job in advertising in 2009 James launched CookWithJames as a full-time business, offering private sit-down dinners as well as cooking class parties for all occasions.




Heather Randol Jul 2024

We had a wonderful time with James learning how to make gnocchi! We each were able to do hands-on work. You can do as much or as little as you like. He explained and demonstrated each step with care. He shared where he purchased the fresh and delicious ingredients. He had a wonderful spread of cheese, truffle salami and pâté for us when we arrived as well. Dinner was served in his beautiful home at the dining table where we enjoyed our meal and chatted with the other attendees. Overall it was an excellent experience and we feel confident we can make this again at home!!

Deanna van Buren Jul 2024

We Loved cookin' with James. It was just the right amount of convo, cooking and conversation. His home is lovely and he is a great host with a lot of culinary knowledge!

Scott Williams Jul 2024

great place to have a group dinner, participated as much or as little as we wanted to by person.

Catherine Laureano Jul 2024

I learned how to make paella with chef James. It was such an amazing class and informative up to the small details. It was worth it. I like that it was a small group of class. We were able to take turns on doing hands on work. The food that we prepared was really good. We were also served with salad and dessert.

Doug Ridgway Jun 2024

James did a very good job in presenting the class making it both nformative and fun.

Teacher's response

Thank you, Doug, so much for coming over with your lovely family. I had a great time with all of you! I look forward to seeing you again in the future.

Until then happy cooking!



Olga Prakapenkava May 2024

We had an absolutely fabulous time at our team outing, all thanks to James! He’s such a blast to be around—super friendly, incredibly fun, and a true professional. His place is gorgeous, and his kitchen? It's a culinary masterpiece! The quality of the ingredients he provided was top-notch, and our pizzas turned out absolutely mouthwatering.

What made the experience even better was learning about the technology, recipe, and history of Neapolitan pizza. James made the whole process super engaging and fun. We all left with new skills, full bellies, and huge smiles. We can’t wait to come back and do it all over again! Highly recommend this amazing experience to everyone!

Mehmet Ihsan Orgut May 2024

It was great class! James was very helpful and supportive. We learned the tricks of the pizza making thanks to him. House is in a superb location and a great place for this type of an event.

Courtney Lopez May 2024

We had a great time! Best paella I’ve ever eaten! Thank you so much for a fun time!

Jhanvi Patel Mar 2024

James gave us all a very warm welcome. We all enjoyed making our own style of pizza. Being a bigger group the refreshments that James provided helped keep everybody busy. And the set up was just perfect for us all.

Lisa Mayerson Feb 2024

We had a team cooking class with Chef James and it was amazing! Everyone had a blast and was raving about the food. James' house is also incredible! We definitely recommend taking this cooking class and would come back in a heartbeat!

Marissa Rea Feb 2024

Had such a great time with James! The food, new friends, experience…unforgettable! Definitely doing it again!

Spanish Cooking Class: A Night in Spain review by Marissa Rea - San Francisco

Darlene Ordonez Feb 2024

This class was so much fun! james was a warm and welcoming host. Our team learned alot and already want to book another class!

Kyle von Seeburg Jan 2024

Fantastic teacher and great guy to spend a night with cooking. Beautiful kitchen, overall fun night.

Edmund Yau Jan 2024

James was a great host and teacher! Great communication and lots of knowledge and stories to share. Would highly recommend!

Teresa Fitzgerald Dec 2023

Thank you, James, for a wonderful Christmas Eve cooking experience with my family! The gnocchi making was a pleasure and your hospitality was terrific. We all enjoyed the delicious appetizers that you shared at the beginning, great conversation, the hands-on lesson culminating in a delicious dinner, as well as your generosity in sharing a bottle of your personal wine and the relaxed way in which we were able to enjoy the entire experience at a pace that was natural and fun. We will look to joining you for your other classes soon!

Jane Barrett Oct 2023

Chef James is a great host, his home is lovely and the pizza making class is super fun. He was also great with my 14 year old, very patient and encouraging. We had a lovely evening and I highly recommend this class.

Stephanie Gillen Sep 2023

We had a great meal and wonderful experience cooking with James! It was the perfect teambuilding event to do with my team. We look forward to the next event we can do with James.

William Xiao Sep 2023

James was great - we made a delicious meal in his cozy home! Would definitely recommend

Diana Cheval Sep 2023

Chef James was very knowledgeable and gracious with his time. This class is a memorable experience. Highly recommend.

Chloe Despos Aug 2023

We ended up having to cancel last minute, I still feel bad, but James was very understanding and kind about it. So while I cannot review the class itself, I want to say communicating with James was 10/10 and the cancellation policy was super clear from the get go so there was no confusion!

Bhavin Patel Aug 2023

Chef James hosted a fun and engaging evening for our friends - he educated us on farmers to buy produce from, had simple and easy recipes to cook from, and cooked with us a delicious meal!

Linda Guitron Aug 2023

I so enjoyed my pizza-making class with James in his beautiful Edwardian home! We started off with a lovely cheese tray. Then James explained all about how to make a Neapolitan-style pizza and we got to roll out the dough, put on tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings. (He will email the recipe for the dough to us.) Because he has a special pizza oven that quickly bakes the pizzas, we all had our fill of delicious pizza and salad. I really appreciated the friendly atmosphere and beautifully set tables of this class.

Tom Phelan Aug 2023

We enjoyed the class. Looking at another class on our next visit to the city.

Shannon McNair Aug 2023

James is not only a great teacher, he is a wonderful host who made us feel welcome from the second we arrived. The class is held in his home which is warm and inviting unlike many of those industrial kitchens that classes like these are often held in. Our team had a really great time making pasta and the meal was decadently delicious. I would absolutely recommend the class to anyone looking to do some team bonding with a great chef with yummy food.

Mario Paoletti Jul 2023

We did a pasta making class with James and had an incredible time. His house is as warm and friendly as he is and hime has deep and diversified culinary knowledge. We had an incredible time, will absolutely be going back, and would recommend Cook with James to everyone!

Anita Gormley Jul 2023

James was a great host and we had so much fun making paella with him. He has a beautiful home and is so informative. We will definitely come back!

David Cohen Jul 2023

We just had a great team building gnocchi making event with Chef James. The whole experience was the perfect tempo to give us time to get to know each other, learn to cook, enjoy a delicious meal, and all in a nice warm environment. Chef James was a great host who was a thoughtful guide throughout the entire event. I'd highly recommend this experience to everyone.

Junior Poloka Jul 2023

The market tour was really fun and James was an excellent host and teacher. I am looking forward to taking another class of his.

Johna Seo Jul 2023

We learned how to cook paella with James for our team offsite and it was a great experience! The atmosphere was casual and welcoming. We enjoyed a charcuterie board that James prepared before we started cooking. Then we learned how to cook paella and also had some delicious dessert afterwards. I would definitely recommend this experience with others who are looking for an interactive way to spend time with a group of people.

Madison Rodrigues Jun 2023

James was great! Took this class as a group of 4 and he made us all very comfortable and welcomed us into his beautiful home! All 4 of us were able to participate in the pasta making process while James cooked the sauce for us. He even provided us appetizers! Such a fun birthday activity, we would 100% do this again!

Shanna Keil Jun 2023

4 ClassBento workshops attended • 2 reviews

James provided a great experience for the ladies of my office. His home is beautifully decorated and he had a delicious charcuterie board prepared when we arrived which interesting and high quality ingredients. He was very welcoming and provided lots of knowledge about cooking and shared interesting travel stories. I appreciated his attention to quality ingredients and we had a great time making and eating delicious pizzas! It was a great and authentic experience and I enjoyed the emphasis on simple, fresh ingredients for a delicious meal. The salad was another delicious addition, and the cheesecake at the end of the night was a perfect way to finish off the meal. He even let us take home some fresh dough balls to make ourselves and any leftover pizza. We left very full and happy! It was overall a great night!

Jessica Galicia May 2023

It was a great class and time to meet other people I want to do it again.

Spanish Cooking Class: A Night in Spain review by Jessica Galicia - San Francisco

Cascasilda Puente May 2023

2 ClassBento workshops attended • 2 reviews

We loved it! It was special to be in his home. My Spanish exchange student thought it was amazing. It was so welcoming like having lunch at a friends house in San Francisco!. I wish he would have enjoyed the meal with us. He just seemed to be part of our time and he was busy cleaning and not enjoying the meal that he helped us create.

we will be back!

Blanca Woodman Apr 2023

James was great! Lovely evening and really well prepared. Excellent charcuterie, wine, gnocchi lesson itself, and just a great time overall - would highly recommend!

Brent Apr 2023

James provided a great atmosphere for the event. Everyone participated in the pasta making and the sauce and salad provided by James really rounded out the meal. I would like to try some of his other classes.

Mike Griffis Apr 2023

Chef James and his private home were both very relaxing and welcoming. His pasta Making Class was informative and all if us got chances to participate in the preparation. We had a total of 6 people in the class from varied backgrounds and they were all interesting to meet and share dinner with. We enjoyed ourselves so much, we didn't want to leave.
Thank you Chef James for a great experience.

Priscilla Farrugia Feb 2023

This was my second time with James. I love the cozy and intimate cooking class. It makes it a lot of fun. In addition, James is the perfect host. One can tell he just loves hosting and creates a relax environment. Thank you James for putting up with our shenanigans and our craziness. Already looking forward to my next class.

Pirie Grossman Feb 2023

Chef James was an amazing host & chef! The food was delicious and the ambience of his home was so cosy and intimate. We had a fantastic birthday dinner at his place! No one wanted to leave! We are definitely coming back! What a beautiful gem in the heart of San Francisco ♥️

Italian Cooking Class: Rustic Meatball Supper review by Pirie Grossman - San Francisco

Priyanka Patel Feb 2023

My husband and I had a memorable date night at Chef James’ wonderful home! It was fun making pizzas and sharing them with our group over wine/ beer.
Chef James is informed and patient. Overall it was a memorable evening!

Luanne Andreotti Jan 2023

Cooking with James was a gift. I loved the farmers market scavenging to meet vendors since I own a place nearby and now can navigate better! We returned to his home - a respite from the rain with an inviting charcuterie plate to greet us. It was a new experience making pasta and the results were delightful. Next time I’d like to actually cook the noodles as well and the sauce. I will sign up again. Overall James was an ideal teacher and host and I really enjoyed the young couples in our group. I was solo to connected with a single gal to form another couple. I’m spreading the word now great this is on my social media!

Farmer's Market Tour and Cook Seasonal Lunch review by Luanne Andreotti - San Francisco

Dan Markosky Jan 2023

2 ClassBento workshops attended

James was a great host, and we loved meeting several of his favorite vendors at the farmers market. He then welcomed us into his beautiful home where we spent time learning pasta making while enjoying company with the group. Amazing day and we will definitely be booking another event with James!

Anna Iurchenko Dec 2022

I invited friends to celebrate my birthday and learn how to make an amazing pizza together with chief James. It was so much more than I have expected! James is such a wonderful host and a chief and his space is amazing!

He served us yummy appetizers at the beginning and gave us plenty of time to open presents, to mingle, to chat and just enjoy time together. When we moved to the kitchen he demoed how to make a pizza and shared all the tips on how you can achieve great results at home. All guests got a chance to cook any pizza they want with variety of ingredients and then share it with the rest.

James was very attentive to all the guest and also made everyone welcome: one of the guests was allergic to wheat and James found a way to accommodate their needs by finding a wheat-free pizza crust, that was also really yummy!

I have very warm memories about this Birthday cooking party with chief James! We just had fun learning how to make pizza and enjoyed wonderful food that we made and chief James made for us!

Neapolitan Pizza Making Class review by Anna Iurchenko - San Francisco

Priya Ryali Dec 2022

Amazing class! We loved the whole experience in making fresh pasta will be coming back!

Libby Palomeque Dec 2022

Warm, funny, and welcoming, James made every guest feel instantly at ease. And the food was magnificent Highly recomended!

Jean Nelson-Rodriguez Dec 2022

I did this class with a couple of girlfriend. The setting was in his house, which was lovely. James is a well traveled chef, which his stories added to the experience. I've been making bouillabaisse for Christmas the last few years and I hadn't found a recipe that seemed restaurant quality. The bouillabaisse James made was delish and I am excited to recreate it at home. Of course he made everything seem so effortless! I highly recommend cooking with James.

Amanda Jones Dec 2022

Excellent experience all around. James is the real deal. He knows his way around the Farmer’s Market and the cooking experience was warm and informative. We are already planning our next adventure with him. Such a fun experience!

Cooking class review by Amanda Jones - San Francisco

Brent Stapleton Nov 2022

James was great, he was very knowledgeable, friendly, and had a beautiful kitchen. The paella we made was a very accessible recipe, and the resulting meal was delicious.

Anne Gamino Nov 2022

We absolutely enjoyed this cooking class with Chef James! He was personable, professional, and he gave us lots of tips and answered all our questions. The class format was relaxed and intimate. The entire experience exceeded our expectations, and we look forward to signing up for another class with Chef James again soon!

Jon Ezell Sep 2022

Che James was a great teacher and host. Beautiful setting, relaxed atmosphere, great pizza, great fun!

Glen Fisher Sep 2022

A wonderful experience - James was great to work with and provided an engaging (and delicious) experience for my team of 10 colleagues.
Jame's hospitality, hands-on teaching and the venue (a turn-of the-century Edwardian home) made it feel like we were visiting a friend's home for dinner! Will definitely do it again and recommend to others.

Rachael King Sep 2022

James was an excellent teacher, incredibly knowledgeable about Italian and Spanish foods. The class was in his beautiful home and he made us feel welcome. If you’re looking for a hands-on class, you might try the pizza class. The saffron risotto with prawns was more of a demo class but it made for an excellent date night as dinner afterwards was delicious! My date said this was the most fun he’d had in ages!

Michael Cott Sep 2022

James did a great job! Friendly, informative and knowledgeable. He made everyone feel at home and we all really enjoyed the paella

Christa Guevarra Aug 2022

Chef James was absolutely amazing! He was so informative about what we were doing and about a lot of other things. Provided little snacks & gave us recommendation of where to find certain ingredients! Great experience & highly recommend him for all your Italian cooking needs!

Florence Lockhart Aug 2022

Our evening with Chef James was inspiring. We learnt not only about the art of making risotto ( which was deliscious) but also how to create a fantastic meal for friends with a charcuterie board, a starter, risotto, salad, and dessert, using gorgeous fresh ingredients , from farm to table! Chef James has a tastefully decorated historic home which was spacious and the perfect environment to enjoy our 5 star meal in comfort. Thank you for inspiring us to repeat the experience in our own home and share what we’ve learnt with family and friends Chef James ! Florence and Roger and Wes

Cooking class review by Florence Lockhart - San Francisco

Steven Tran Aug 2022

James was courteous and accommodating for our group. We had an amazing time and enjoyed our workshop making pizza where James provided education as well as an opportunity for everyone to create our shared meals.

Daniella Schepps Jul 2022

Our evening with Chef James was unforgettable! His house is stunning and the most perfect vibe for an evening of cooking and fine food. James was informative, interesting, and it was the best paella any of us have had. He made for a really special for me family and me.

Cooking class review by Daniella Schepps - San Francisco

Kelly Fitzpatrick Jul 2022

We had a great time with James! The food was delicious, wonderful Spanish wines. Very homey & in a fun part of San Francisco.

Christina Cowan Jun 2022

We had a wonderful time! James was an amazing host and gave us a night to remember!

Shannon Shelby Jun 2022

Had a great time. Very interactive and informative. Great atmosphere, will definitely sign up for another class.

Italian Cooking Class: Rustic Potato Gnocchi review by Shannon Shelby - San Francisco

Becki Cowan Jun 2022

James was organized, relaxed and knowledgeable. The atmosphere in his home was beautifully appointed and inviting. He let us settle in and began when we were all ready to learn. He shared bits about his journey and passion for Spanish and Italian cooking and was a good listener when one of us wanted to share our own culinary experiences. We got to take turns using our hands to prepare the dough and create the gnocchi. We all enjoyed the entire experience from the delicious charcuterie ready when we arrived to dessert and chocolates after the salads. I would definitely encourage my friends to take these classes

Luke Taylor Jun 2022

James was great, very hospitable and welcoming us into his home to cook an amazing meal. Raw ingredients were excellent and led to the best paella I've ever had. I think the class could be improved slightly if the students were able to be more hands on and take the lead cooking with guidance by James, but we still learned a lot and will be trying to make our own paella at home soon. Thank you!

Rajan Ladhwa Jun 2022

Chef James is just amazing! Do yourselves a favor and book this experience. James is an excellent host and we had a ridiculously good time with him. Far and beyond our high expectations!

Thanks James for hosting an incredible team cooking session and dinner!

Michael Langbein Jun 2022

Enjoyed this class a lot and will make much better gnocchi now. Thanks a lot!

Ameya Borwankar Jun 2022

The class was quite educational! James is a great teacher and gracious host. Throughout the class James peppered useful cooking tips and tricks that helped us while cooking gnochi. He has an intimate dining space as well, where we enjoyed all of the food, which didn't take long because it was so delicious!

Italian Cooking Class: Rustic Potato Gnocchi review by Ameya Borwankar - San Francisco

Suvita Viswanathan May 2022

It was a great class. We absolutely enjoyed our evening of learning and eating great food!

Chetan Verma May 2022

We went to James' place as a team and make Neapolitan pizzas with them. James is a great host and we loved the time we spent there. He makes sure the vibe is relaxing and fun and is great with engaging in conversations and sometimes letting people chat among themselves if it's a private group. The food was delicious and we learnt many tips and tricks for making pizzas! Definitely worth the time and the money, will recommend strongly!

Mark Ciopyk May 2022

James was unbelievably kind, fun to talk to, and very informative. I look forward to not only trying the recipe at home, but reserving our next time with him.

Claudia Guerra Apr 2022

Great experience with chef James. We were a small group of 4 people and we felt at home during the class and experience. We learned how to cook paella over great conversation amongst friends. If you would like to have an amazing intimate evening immersing in the Spanish food and culture, I absolutely recommend it.

Cooking class review by Claudia Guerra - San Francisco

Sarai Gallegos Mar 2022

Delicious, knowledgeable, and such a fun time. This was a great way to celebrate my fiancé’s birthday. Chef James made us feel so welcomed and we learned so much!

Amanda Priest Feb 2022

Chef James was the best! We prepared a delicious gnocchi in his adorable kitchen. He provided delicious nosh to start before we dove right in. He was super interesting and fun, would highly recommend anyone check out his classes :) they're well worth it!

Christina Vailas Feb 2022

This was a super fun evening in a beautiful setting. The food was delicious and Chef James was very welcoming and a great host!

Marissa Pardini Jan 2022

This experience was great! James was extremely knowledgeable. I went with my Dad and we had a blast. The food was delicious and it was really interesting to learn about the background and history of the food.

Spanish Cooking Class: A Night in Spain review by Marissa Pardini - San Francisco

Lauren Williams Jan 2022

We had a wonderful experience learning how to make gnocchi and preparing and eating a delicious meal with James. We felt right at home when we walked in and were greeted with a lovely appetizer spread. James was a delight to talk with, and we enjoyed his company and learning about the food we were making. He had a lot of interesting knowledge to share. We will definitely be back to take another class with him in the future and will recommend this to our friends.

Michael Poole Jan 2022

thanks Chef James for a super fun evening of pizza making/eating in your lovely home! Learned a lot and looking forward to putting new skills into practice. Highly recommended! MP

Lorenzo Calvani Dec 2021

We had a great time making pizza with James. He is extremely knowledgeable and he's an amazing teacher. Love his passion! A+

Aileen Appe Dec 2021

The class was fun and Chef James was very personable, knowledgeable, and made everyone feel included. He also prepped a delicious spread for us to start the evening, a really nice touch!

Mein Roger Jul 2021

Chef James was amazing, being hosted in his charming home we immediately felt like family. His kitchen was an excellent workspace for our hands on cooking instruction.
Chef James started us off with an variety of appetizers including cheeses, and charcutier board. We brought some wine, and Chef James also provided some wine. Great way to start this adventure into Italian cooking.
Every step of the way in making our main dish of ravioli Chef James guided us. It came our as one of the best meals we have had in a long time, it was extra especial in this stetting. We really enjoyed our evening and we highly recommend this experience. I am sure we will return to try another dinner with Chef James.

Italian Cooking Class: Rustic Potato Gnocchi review by Mein Roger - San Francisco

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