At Culinary Master Class, we believe that it’s possible to learn classic culinary skills without spending thousands of dollars on culinary school. This site was developed by Chef Leslie Bilderback, CMB—a classically trained chef, Certified Master Baker, culinary instructor, and author. Culinary Master Class walks you through the techniques at your own pace, without the cumbersome tuition, dress code, or school rules.
Why should you listen to Chef Bilderback? In 1988 she graduated with honors from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco (before it was cool). She completed her apprenticeship under internationally renowned pastry chefs Robert Jorin and Bo Friberg (author of The Professional Pastry Chef). After graduation she played a major role in several of California’s most well-regarded and innovative restaurants, working as Pastry Chef of Sedona in Berkeley, Postrio and Zolas in San Francisco, and Angeli and Georgia in Los Angeles.
When it became apparent that motherhood and restaurant life were incompatible, Chef Bilderback joined the original faculty of the California School of Culinary Arts in 1995. After several years as Baking and Pastries Department Head, she became Executive Chef, leading the school as it entered into partnership with Le Cordon Bleu. In 1999 she became a Certified Master Baker, and in 2002 was a finalist on Team USA of the Coup du Monde de la Boulangerie.
Increasingly disillusioned with the quality of instruction available under a corporate banner, Chef Bilderback shifted her focus toward writing. She is the author of Salt: The Essential Guide to Cooking with the Most Important Ingredient in your Kitchen, Mug Cakes, No-Churn Ice Cream, Mug Meals, the Spiralized Kitchen, (all from St. Martins Press), nine cookbooks in the Complete Idiot’s Guide and Everything series, The 100th Year, a history of Sun Maid Raisins, and she collaborated with Pastry Chef Sherry Yard of Spago on the James Beard Award-winning book The Secrets of Baking, (Houghton Mifflin, 2003). She also writes a regular monthly column for Arroyo Magazine (Southland Publishing). Chef Bilderback has been profiled in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Culinary Trends Magazine, CookingSchools.com, Bridges USA, and Living Fit Magazine. She is ranked as one of the top 50 chef instructors in the nation on Chef2Chef.com, and in the November of 2012 she was the winner of the Food Networks pastry competition show Sweet Genius.
Chef Bilderback lives with her husband in Southern California. (The kids flew the coup.) Chef B is currently the pastry chef at N/naka in Culver City, the kaiseki restaurant of chef Niki Nakayama—Chef B’s former student! In addition, Chef B fits in teaching here and there, both for the Los Angeles Unified School District through the LAUSD Nutrition Network, and for the Armed Forces, training cooks through the US Navy Adopt-a-Chef Program. To top it off, she just completed her master’s degree in Art History, and hopes to bring culinary art the attention it deserves in the academic art world.
Chef B also created all the art for this website.
Follow her at @themightychefb