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Cheeseboard and Kitchen on Fire

Kitchen on Fire Tools, ink & watercolor, 7x5"
Kitchen on Fire: Tools of the Trade, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

Don’t worry, nothing’s burning! “Kitchen on Fire” is the name of a cooking school in the heart of Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. We ended our sketching evening there when it got too dark to draw on the street. The chefs were cleaning up after an evening class and were nice enough to let us hang out and sketch until they finished. I’ve heard classes there are a lot of fun.

Cheeseboard Musicians, ink & watercolor, 7x5"
Freddy Hughes Band, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

The Cheeseboard Collective (PLEASE see wonderful sketches on their website here) has over 400 kinds of cheese and in the evening sells their pizza of the day to people who line up for it. They host bands who entertain the diners sitting on benches, at cafe tables or picnicking on the grass in the median strip of the street.

Be sure to watch this video long enough to see the two “Keep off the median” street signs and the guy using it as a back rest: pure Berkeley.

My first sketch of the evening was of this group of burly gentlemen below, enjoying their pizza crowded around a table in the dark, lit by streetlights and storefronts.

Eating pizza, ink & watercolor, 5x7"
Eating pizza outside the Cheeseboard, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

I had a hard time with the sketch. There were actually 6 guys but they arrived one at a time, and kept changing places at the table outside the Cheeseboard. I had a whole story going in my mind about how they were Greek or Russian furniture movers.

I thought they didn’t notice me drawing them but when they got up to leave they asked to see. I was mortified since I’d done them no favors with my rendering. They were very nice anyway, recognized each other in the picture and laughed as much at themselves as at my sketch.

Then the guy on the left told me he was an artist who loves to draw and he was very encouraging. That’s the nice thing about sketching in public. Nobody ever criticizes your work, no matter how bad you think it might be.

6 replies on “Cheeseboard and Kitchen on Fire”

Great sketches as always-I do love Berkeley and you captured that. Just the names of the places is so Berkeley!

People are nice about the sketching too aren’t they? And for all they know you meant to do your sketches just like you did! Perfect:)


Jana, I like these sketches and your story of the evening was very engaging. The link to the Cheeseboard website was also intriguing and I’ve bookmarked it to read more later. Thanks, Ambal


Wonderful sketches! I guess I’ve not done enough sketching of people in public to have someone approach me like this. So far, no one has even acted like they knew what I was up to. Wow…the cheeseboard website is wonderful! My husband and I sold our last restaurant in ’05. I’m wishing I had done something like this!


A lovely collection of sketches. I’m glad the men were polite to you.

I’ve just checked all the pages at the Cheese Board Collective and love Ann’s illustrations! Thank you for the link.


Wonderful sketches – they’d grace a cookbook any day!

The video made me smile. That’s people power for you. Who could blame them when the weather is so fine!


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