If you thought this was a nation of noncooking Food Network-devotees, you may want to rethink that notion -- at least here in the Bay Area, where culinary schools are booming. Here's just a sampling in the East and South bays:

French Culinary Institute: This professional culinary academy in Campbell offers courses for chefs and sommeliers, as well as "serious amateurs." Details: 700 W. Hamilton Ave.; www.frenchculinary.com.

Draeger's Cooking School: Draeger's outlets in Danville, Menlo Park and San Mateo offer a wide variety of cooking classes, ranging from Mediterranean Easter fare to gluten-free dining. Details: www.draegerscookingschool.com.

Kitchen on Fire: This Berkeley cooking school offers classes in everything from culinary basics and knife technique to paella and Moroccan cuisine. Details: Two locations, at 1509 Shattuck Ave. and 2940 Seventh St.; http://kitchenonfire.com.

Back to the Table: This new cooking school and production kitchen in Lafayette offers classes for novices and seasoned home cooks. Details: 271 Lafayette Circle; http://backtothetablecookingschool.com.



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