Everybody’s business

Karma chameleon
Chico is getting a cooking school, thanks to a partnership between chef Michael Iles and the aptly named Tim Cooke (Get it? “Cook.”) and his wife, Jill.

Cooke’s son, Tyler, was a student in the Butte Culinary Academy, which closed its location on the Chico State University campus a few months ago after the Private Industry Council decided to save money by consolidating programs in Chico and Oroville. Iles was laid off, and local restaurants bemoaned the loss of student interns and future employees.

“When I heard that the school was being shut down, I didn’t think that was such a good idea,” Cooke said. “I knew of so many kids who went to the school and kind of found themselves, like my son did. It was just something I couldn’t see die.”

Many Chicoans had come to love the experience of dining on student-conceived dishes as much as the students enjoyed benefiting from the education.

The school and eatery, dubbed the Chameleon Café, will be open in the next few weeks at 1105 West Fifth St., the site of Sin of Cortez before it moved to The Esplanade. Besides teaching students of all ages (even children) at night short- or long-term, the school will serve breakfast and sell food products made on-site. Since the school will no longer be subject to Chico State campus restrictions, it will be able to do food-and-wine pairings. Later, it’ll offer catering and a banquet room. “We chose ‘Chameleon’ because we expect it to change,” Cooke said.

Healthy are we
Now here’s a rating that will have Chicoans feeling their oats: The September-October 2003 issue of Organic Style magazine has ranked Chico 16th in a feature titled “Healthy Cities 2003.”

The magazine commissioned Robert Weinhold, author of the Rating Guide to Environmentally Healthy Metro Areas, to survey 125 cities for “environmental toxicity.” Once air quality, toxic releases and agricultural pollution were taken into account, Chico came out the top-ranked California city. (The next highest was Davis, at No. 39.) No. 1 was Santa Fe, N.M.

The magazine profiled one city in each of seven geographical regions (“culture and style” proved further defining points), but Chico was not among them. It also offered tips on how readers can improve their cities.

I think this ups our groovy factor, and we didn’t have to pay money for it like some of those other rankings I won’t mention.

Joe, Joe, your rumor is calling
Sometimes I think I exist solely to give Krispy Kreme updates and dispel rumors about Trader Joe’s coming to Chico.

As we know, Miller Mansion is being moved from The Esplanade and a shopping center is being constructed in its place. But no Trader Joe’s will take root there, according to developer Jeff Farrar, who is managing the project. “That is an old rumor. We are not speaking to Trader Joe’s at the Miller property at this point.”

The Trader Joe’s people didn’t call me back, probably because they’re tired of me bugging them every six months.

If anyone brings to me 100-percent verifiable news of the natural-foods store truly coming to Chico, and the News & Review is the first to publish said information, I will personally buy that source $10 worth of groceries there.