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Opera Singing Chef offers home cookin’ lessons, laughs

ENCINITAS — “A Taste of French Cuisine” cooking class will be presented by Chef Elizabeth Podsiadlo — aka the “Opera Singing Chef” — at the San Diego Botanic Garden from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 6.
The event is just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Students are invited to come solo, or accompanied by their sweetheart, and learn how to prepare continental favorites such as blue cheese gougeres (cheese pastry), easy vichyssoise (potato soup), coq au vin (chicken cooked in wine), and a pissaladiere (onion tart).
Recipes and tastings will be offered for each dish.
Chef Elizabeth is a popular guest at the gardens known for serving up savory cuisine, opera and comedy.
“I’m a home chef and I teach home chefs,” she said. “I’m enough of a comic that students feel if I can do it, they can do it. There’s no wrong way as long as you are willing to eat it. You always learn from your mistakes.”
She encourages prospective students to arrive early and enjoy the gardens before class starts.
“The fee covers the cost of admission,” she said. “Sometimes students bring a bottle of wine. It’s a real chance to spend quality time with people like yourself who want to learn.”
Chef Elizabeth says she is inspired by the people who enroll in the class.
“They are very intelligent,” she said. “We have a Marine who, when he’s home, drives down from Ramona with his wife. Whenever he comes we spoil him by doubling his samples.”
For entertainment during the class, Chef Elizabeth will sing “Visi D’arte” from Puccini’s “Tosca” and another romantic selection.
“I’ve been teaching at the gardens once a month for five years,” she said. “They’ll leave with knowledge but they’ll also have a lot of laughter.”
Chef Elizabeth has been a personal chef since 1994. Her cooking classes have been offered at the Natural History Museum in Balboa Park and through OASIS, a senior enrichment program at the Macy’s department store in Mission Valley. She has also taught at the Macy’s and Great News cooking school. Through a sponsorship of the Healthy Dining publication, she appears in the fall home and garden shows, children’s expos and events at hospitals, libraries and corporations. 
Chef Elizabeth also cooks once a month on San Diego Living on Channel 6.
She is the author of two novels inspired by her love of opera and cooking. “Talking Pictures” and “The Last Aria” will be available for signing and purchase at the class. Books are $20. A companion CD for “The Last Aria” is $15 or the book and CD can be purchased together for $30.
Tickets for the cooking class are $25 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Pre-registration is required.
The San Diego Botanic Garden is located at 230 Quail Gardens Drive. For more information, visit or call (760) 436-3036, ext. 206.
Chef Elizabeth studies under renowned opera singer and instructor Pandeli Lazaridi. She invites those interested in opera to attend an opera soirée held the last Sunday of the month at the PB Women’s Club at 1721 Hornblend St. in Pacific Beach where singers of all ages and vocal levels “air out” arias and art songs for competition, audition and for study. For information, e-mail
For more information about Chef Elizabeth, visit