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Cookery Courses News

Give me ten good reasons to visit South Africa (hic!)

Yep, there’s a lot to be said for cookery courses. Heck, there are pages and pages devoted to them here on this site. But, to me, if someone was to offer me a choice between a cookery class and a wine tasting session, it would be the latter every time.

That said, as we approach two decades of democracy in South Africa – twenty years that have seen the country’s wine production increase thirteen-fold from 30 million litres in ’92 to nigh on 400 million today – a chance has come about to visit the massive expo in September, which will hope to see 330 wineries gather in The Cape to showcase their product.

Since the apartheid movement stopped getting its own way, thousands upon thousands of mile of vine have been planted across the country, giving rise to a myriad small wineries from the vineries, as well as the big players that have been around since we discovered what grapes had been invented for.

A little like the European Cup, the last Cape Wine event was staged in 2008 and September this year sees its long awaited return. Many of the young entrepreneurs now hitting the ground running with their product would have missed the 2008 show, which in itself attracted in excess of 300 wineries.

If you fancy a crack at getting down to The Cape and sampling the expected 5,000+ wines (why did an image of Homer Simpson drooling just spring up before my mind’s eye, then?), then there is a showcase event in London next week, which will provide the platform for you to be in with that chance.

If you’re free next Tuesday afternoon, take the tube down to Charing Cross and head for Trafalgar Square – you’re looking for South Africa House, if you’d not already guessed. They’re hosting a ’10 reasons to visit South Africa’ exhibition between 2-5pm. Each of the reasons is a bottle of wine from one of the regions in South Africa and will be represented by the winery that produces the bottle of plonk on show.

The details of the chance-in-a-lifetime trip will be announced around 4pm, with a reception and drinks afterwards, stretching into the early evening until 7.30pm. It is an RSVP event; so if you want to wow your peers at future cookery courses with an in-depth knowledge of the right South African wine to accompany any meal, you can e-mail [email protected] or call 0208-405-6442 for further information. If you want to brush up on this year’s event beforehand, you can read more at www.capewine2012.co.za.

Sadly, I’ll miss this one as I’ll be just a little closer to Africa than any who attend as, early Saturday morn, we head off to Tenerife for our annual pilgrimage. So please, if you attend, grab a little Zinfandel for me and I’ll salut! you from across the way with a Sangria or Estrella Damm. Buenos dias!

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Cookery Courses London News

Just desserts for those brave enough to enter dessert competition

The competition for entry into the Mõvenpick Gourmet Dessert Chef is well under way and the deadline for your chance to be considered as Mõvenpick Gourmet Dessert Chef of the Year is fast approaching. Allan Pickett, the head chef at London’s Canary Wharf Plateau, who will be on the judging panel for the live cook off event alongside a whole host of the industry’s most illustrious names, is urging more budding chefs who are perhaps hiding their light under a bushel to come forward and risk showcasing their culinary prowess for the chance to win a cookery course extraordinaire and stay at Mõvenpick’s Swiss home.

Launched in association with the Craft Guild of Chefs, the competition is not just about raising a classic dessert from scratch but also to show the hospitality trade what it’s missing out on as almost four fifths of orders from pub and restaurant menus do not, at present, contain a dessert. With a three course meal constituting main, side and a choice of either starter or dessert, there is a very real sense within The Guild that the trade is missing a trick or two by not being positive about promoting the sweets available as a healthy, enjoyable alternative to the starter as part of any fixed three-course meal.

The closing date for entries to the competition is only a fortnight away (1st May) and whilst many, many UK cookery courses include programs and one-off cookery classes for desserts and patisseries, the second call, if you like, for competitors in this year’s competition would suggest that they perhaps have not had as many entrants as they would have anticipated.

It would seem that the high glitz and glamour of the brand and its website – it’s perhaps one of the funkiest, elegant websites I’ve ever seen and I research a lot of websites – may be putting people off entering. I’m almost tempted to sign up for a cookery course myself to learn how to make ice-cream using

  • 2 x 125ml tubs Smart Price Black Cherry yoghurt,
  • 1 x Double Elmlea Cream (284ml/½ pint), and
  • 2 heaped tea-spoons (20 mg) of Smart Price instant chocolate powder
    • total cost = less than a quid, serves two

– a Black Forest Gateaux meal in a glass! I’m sure there’s a market for that in an ice-cream, if only I knew the conversion from yoghurt to the frozen stuff, I’d be on my way.

I might just get my Ninja out and crush some ice with those ingredients and see how it turns out. And no pinching this cookerycourses.co.uk recipe, you guys! You read it here, first…

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Cookery Courses London News

Waitrose cookery courses using only the freshest ingredients

We all know the supermarkets renowned for their value ready-meals, such as Tesco or Asda or if you’re feeling flusher, for a little something extra special, Sainsburys or even Marks and Sparks, all of whom have pre-prepared meals to suit every mood. You can literally pick anything up, get home (pay for it first, AWT!) and bung it In the oven or microwave with very little effort or thought and, usually, in less than an hour, your meal is ready for you; however, there are other supermarkets gaining reputations for the food that actually goes into these prepared meals fresh, rather than the microwaveable end product.

The big-name supermarkets are all so well known that if you know your budget and your monthly menu you don’t even have to think twice about whizzing around their store or online to pick up your favourites and bung them in the freezer ready to be pinged. If, on the other hand, your are wanting to pick the ingredients yourself to attempt to learn to cook a meal you picked up from a recipe online or from watching a cookery show on television, then chefs in the know go to Waitrose. It is, if you believe their hype, the go-to supermarket for ingredients to cook from scratch; which is just as well as above their Finchley Road store in London, they run a cookery school in what can only be described as a vision of stainless sterility and a kitchen to absolutely die for, if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat.

It would be little fun attending a cookery course if all of the ingredients had already been put together for you and all you had to do was decide which Smart Price or Value box you wanted to pick out of the freezer. Indeed, the four hour cookery classes that Waitrose host above the London store, hosted by chef James Campbell, covers three main courses, a veritable pleasant diversion from your usual two-and-a-half hour session learning to cook one of each starter, main and pud, as is the wont of many cookery courses out there at the minute, especially in the capital where time is money and rent and the busy professional wants to be able to knock up three courses in time to entertain the boss or clients straight from the orifice.

The cookery class itself takes on the classic format – demonstration first, then participation, then indulge in the resultant meal with an accompanying beverage, all set in a fun atmosphere with a bit of Wham or Duran Duran in the background to help proceedings along swiftly.

Waitrose do offer a variety of cookery courses, not solely this particular one, which was targeted at chefs of all capability; however, any chef above the basic-intermediate level may have this degree of skill under their belts already. Of course, the best, freshest ingredients are all supplied to make this class a little different from others out there, underlining the fact that Waitrose not only know how to source good quality food, but put it together to make a bally decent meal or three out of it, too.

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Cookery Courses London News

Muck in with Maunika at an Indian cookery class Bombay-style

Freelancer food writer and self-styled Indian cookery chef Maunika Gowardhan is taking her culinary expertise offline and wrapping it all up in a cookery course in London, far from her adopted home town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a lot further away from Bombay, where she was born, raised and learned to cook using plentiful local ingredients and handed down recipes and techniques from her family.

Bombay offers one of India’s most diverse cross section of sub-continent styles, techniques and recipes and Maunika was fortunate enough to have the opportunity, with the assistance of her mother and grandmother, to indulge in many of the influences that give rise to the region’s reputation as a veritable melting pot of Asian delights.

It is this insight into the way that the many communities use the plethora of local and traded ingredients available in close proximity, and then blending those spices in their own unique way, that Maunika is hoping to share with the students in her one-off cookery course next month.

The cookery course is designed to be fun and interactive with Maunika very much inviting queries from the students who take advantage of this unique opportunity. As well as the memorable experience the cookery class itself promises to deliver, drawing upon over a decade of Maunika’s experience in sharing and preparing authentic Indian dishes, there will be the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labour both on the day and time and again at home with all of the cookery class menu on recipe cards that you can keep in a safe place at home ready to amaze and impress your friends and family when next you invite them around for a meal, which we’re sure you’ll be only too eager to do once you have experienced this very different, personal and traditional insight into Asian cookery with a twist.

So, if you want to know how to put all of the spices together from scratch and learn how each of the very distinctive tastes compliment or contradict another and also learn how to whip up the chutney dips and varies Indian breads so that you can justifiably call your curry, and your menu, your own, places are bookable online. The date is the evening of the 16th May, location Druid Street, London SE1. Full details at cookinacurry.co.uk.

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Cookery Course News

New Italian restaurant and cookery course opens in Edinburgh

We bring you news of a one-off deal of a cookery course, today, in the capital of Scotland. That’s right, we’re heading off north of the border to a newly established Italian restaurant and cookery school situated on the East London Street/Broughton Street junction in the heart of Edinburgh.

The whole concept of the restaurant is to bring Neapolitan fare, via a menu that rotates on a weekly basis, to the ancient city of Edinburgh through the medium of double AA rosette winning Italian chef Rosario Satore. It his direct guidance and influence that you’ll be under if you opt for this very special two and a half hour cookery class and a very real peep into the world of traditional Italian cooking.

The class itself will teach you, step by step, how to cook a three course meal with the real flavour of Southern Italy bursting through locally sourced Scottish ingredients. The cookery course will comprise one starter, the main and a classic Italian dessert, which, once you’ve prepared, served and cooked, you will then take through into the restaurant proper to sit down and mull over your culinary prowess with the other budding chefs, of which there will be a maximum of twenty per individual cookery class.

This cookery school is not just about the food, with Rosario. Yes, the ingredients stay true to the original Italian recipes but it is the fire and the passion of Italy that the award-winning chef infuses into his classes and his dishes that will make this a cookery lesson to remember.

The restaurant itself, Locanda De Gusti, literally translated meaning ‘a place where you come to taste’, is already starting to grow a reputation, not just for its cookery courses but also for its every day fare. The rotational menu encourages variety as a key ingredient to its menu, alongside which there’s the opportunity to indulge in fine Italian wines.

There is a cellar bar to boot, Serendipity, which offers a sort of tapas menu alongside what we would call micro-brewery beers, but, being Italian, they are ‘crafted’ beers – always do things with that bit of extra style, don’t you think? If you’re passing through Edinburgh and looking for a reasonably priced place to eat, their two course meal offered as a lunchtime or early evening sitting Tuesday to Friday and lunchtime only on a Saturday will set you back a mere £9.95.

And equally reasonably-priced is the cookery course – for a limited time, it is only £26 for the two and a half hour lesson instead of the usual £60, bookable through itison. For full details of the restaurant schedule and a bit more of an insight into the chef, the menu and the restaurant’s theme and conception, visit www.locandadegusti.com.

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Cookery Courses London News

US, The Med and two vegetarian – cookery courses, London

It is a strange fact of life, but some people do not eat meat, some through allergic or digestive reaction, but the majority through choice. And there are a lot more individuals choosing the carcass-free diet. As such, Leith’s of London are throwing two cookery courses next month to celebrate vegetarian cooking from either side of the Atlantic.

First up, we have the vegetarian cookery course from the North Americas, which will be hosted by Sarah Kearns and Marise Maddison. Given how huge the continent is and how many varied cultures they could have drawn upon to cobble this cookery course together, they have had to be brutal and cut much of the sub-culture dishes out. It will be a whistle-stop tour, indeed, all crammed into a four and a quarter hours over the lunchtime of Tuesday 17th April.

Kick off time for the cookery class is 10.15, but you can arrive up to half an hour beforehand. You will need an apron, or, if you want to spoil yourself with a new one for the occasion, Leith’s have them on sale in their shop, so no need to panic if you forget to pack your trusty old coverall. You may need to check with the cookery school what containers are required to take home any uneaten food in, if any.

An overview of the planned dishes for the cookery course Ojibwe Three Sisters Chowder, a native American dish, then we have other stop-offs with wild rice and cranberry salad from The Great Lakes, Big Apple sweet potato and carrot cake to top off nicely the greyhound tour of American cuisine.

The day after, Wednesday 18th April, we zip back this side of The Pond for a sun-soaked offering of vegetarian from The Mediterranean. Same time and place, and again Sarah and Marise take the reigns for another tour into vegetarian cooking, a little closer to home.

There are few other places in Europe where vegetables and fruits grow so big and plentiful and the girls incorporate a fair spread of hand-picked (literally) produce from vine, tree and bush to tempt us with. The menu utilises, in no particular order, red peppers and potatoes, pomegranate and pistachios and even caramelised Aubergine, again to complete a complete meal in one cookery course, drawing from vegetables, fruits and nuts of the continent.

Prices are £130 per cookery course and you can either book online for yourself or buy a gift for a friend, either veggie themselves or perhaps someone who never knows what to cook for their meat-free family. There are presently spaces available for both cookery courses at the London venue but, looking at the closer cookery classes on their schedule there are wait lists; full schedule and terms and conditions available from the Leith’s website.

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Cookery Courses London News

French Indian fusion cookery course for final Friday frolics

What do you get when you cross cuisine in the style of French Creole with the aromatic herbs and spices and tradition of southern Indian cooking? To sum it up quite succinctly, Chef Mehernosh Mody.

The award winning chef is hosting cookery courses on the last Friday of every month at La Porte des Indes, the restaurant name in itself a combination of the French influence using Asian ingredients and know-how to create a fusion menu that draws upon all of his experience.

This is a simplistic style cookery class in the form of demonstration, rather than hands on participation, but that in no way means the budding chef will be left feeling short-changed for the experience, and all for a very reasonable £45 asking price. Especially when you consider that the cost includes a three-course meal and a welcome drink as well as a myth-shattering behind the scenes insight into Indian cooking at the London restaurant-hosted cookery course.

At the heart of any Indian meal is a foundation knowledge of the herbs and spices that give them their delicate flavour. Every chef who’s had to learn to cook Indian food from scratch probably has a tale or two of over-indulgence in one spice or another, culminating in the odd gallon of water for the unfortunate victims at the trial and error stage. One of the key aspects of this cookery course is the exploratory demonstration of those spices, not only in the punch or twist they can deliver but also the preparation of them, from their initial roasting right through to the grinding and pounding stage so that they’re usable in the powder or flake form we are used to.

These shared secrets come after a guided tour of the kitchens of La Porte des Indes, part of the Blue Elephant group of restaurants, where Chef Mehernosh and his talented, dedicated team make the magic happen on a regular basis. And that magic not only extends to the food. Within the package, there also comes an overview of what wine to mix with the various Indian dishes that chef will be preparing. Up here in the West Midlands, Indian = lager; we’re obviously missing the expert tutelage of the refined French palate to add to our Asian-influenced cultural heritage, so any lesson teaching us how to put the vino into vindaloo wouldn’t go amiss.

And the cookery course doesn’t end at the restaurant. The tour, masterclass and demonstrations themselves are over in the blink of a lunchtime eye, lasting from 12 noon to 1.30pm, when you sit down to eat the three course meal you have watched being so diligently prepared. However, you do get a copy of the cook book used by the chefs at the London restaurant, as well as your participation certificate and, more importantly if you want to have a crack yourself at home, a spice mix to compliment what you have learnt and the tome you take home.

There is a full schedule of the end of the month cookery courses on the La Porte des Indes website, the next one being, obviously, Friday 30th March. The lesson can be booked per individual or, as is the en vogue team building exercise of the decade, as a corporate package. The £45 includes vat, however, a 12.5% service will be tagged on to your final bill. See the website for full listing of terms and conditions.

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Cookery Class News

Cookery class in the heart of curry-land – Birmingham

Today, our cookery course is set in the heart of traditional Indian cuisine in the UK – Birmingham. England’s second city has housed Indian restaurants since the end of WWII, although historians are split between which was precisely the first Indian cafe, whether it was The Darjeeling in Steelhouse Lane or The Shah Bag on the Hagley Road, both officially opening their doors to the public in 1945, almost a decade before Indian restaurants became popular in many of the other larger cities in the UK.

In more modern times, as ethnicity of the West Midlands has become more diverse, you cannot walk along any town’s High Street without a waft of Asian spices greeting you on the fragrant air from any one of a multitude of influences, from Bangladeshi to Pakistani. For those offering cookery courses competition is fierce; with a large population density in its mostly-urban townscapes, the market for those who want to learn to cook Indian food is potentially huge .

As testament to that, we bring you news of a fantastic cookery class deal, ideal for the individual or couple who are looking to take their understanding of Indian cuisine further than a jar of Patak’s tikka masala for a midweek treat.

The Spice Trade, based at The Rajdoot Tandoori on George Street, have not only identified this need, but also come up with a cracking cookery class for those working in and around Birmingham on Monday and Tuesday evenings. You book the cookery course online, which is essentially for a two-course Indian meal. For £24 per individual or £42 for a couple (the maximum, unless buying as gifts for others), you get the attentions of one of their top class chefs to guide you through a demonstration in the first instance and then get to have a go, yourself. You also get a drink thrown in, so you can literally sit down and eat the friuts of your labour once the two and a half hour (7 – 9.30pm) cooking lesson has run its course.

That is just one of the offers at The Spice Trade Indian Cookery School, to give it its full name, founded by Anita Sharma-James, of Good Food Show fame. In a similar guise to the two-course set up, they can cater for group events and the growing trend of corporate team-building cookery courses that are taking over from outdoor pursuits in favour of an exercise they can use at home, rather than bringing back a pile of muddy clothes after a wet weekend in South Wales.

This offering is a true insight into how to cook Indian, with a few tips of the trade brought back to the UK from the sub-continent. As you can imagine, this amazing deal is only open for a limited time; for full details and t’s & c’s (there are restrictions, such as age, maximum numbers, etc.), head on over to The Spice Trade.

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Cookery Courses News

Thermomix cookery demo at Middleton Cheney

The Thermomix is just one of those cook at home products that you buy with the greatest intentions of using week in, week out, but inevitably ends up in its box in a cupboard until you feel the need to impress upon someone the fact that

1. you own one, and

2. you know how to use it.

Contrary to this belief, those who have learnt to cook using this machine swear by it and those who don’t prefer it where it is, skulking next to the vegetable microwave steamer underneath your worktop.

But fear not, you would-be Thermomix magicians – a cookery course is on the horizon that will have you whipping out your wand at the drop of a witches hat to amaze, astound and impress your friends. And what’s more, it can actually make your life easier and healthier, too.

At the Pudding Pie cookery school on Weds 28th March there is a FREE demonstration of what the Thermomix can do for you in your kitchen, whilst freeing your time to get on with your life. The cookery course begins at 6.30pm on the dot and runs until 9pm, with free parking and refreshments laid on, to boot.

There is, if you’re either shy or want to take your cooking to the next level with this appliance, a chance to book a private cookery class behind closed doors and away from prying eyes. Don’t want the competition or guests to know your secret, right? You can book the private cookery class on site.

But that’s not all the Pudding Pie cookery school is all about, no!

In the late eighties and nineties we saw the popularity of outdoor pursuits for the purpose of corporate team building eclipse all other manner of company strategy for encouraging communication between staff on similar levels across an organisation.

Whether it’s health and safety or people just don’t want to give up their weekend for three days of getting stomped on and covered in mud in a valley in South Wales, who knows, but cookery courses seem to be the en vogue method adopted by management strategists to break down inter-company barriers, replacing rope bridges and DIY role-play stretchers (yep, been there!). At Pudding Pie Cookery School they have a whole host of flexible cooking classes that the employee with the (somewhat dubious) responsibility of organising the next corporate event can tailor to bring their colleagues together.

From Team Building events to simply hosting a meeting room with accompanying buffet, the culinary experts can accommodate your corporate requirement.

These are simply two niches that the Pudding Pie Cookery School cater for – there are many more on their site, from chalet maid classes, to hosting parties for the gent about to tie the knot with a Bachelor/Stag Cookery party – let’s hope the two don’t fall on the same evening; could get messy! – and the more standard fare of classes and demos you’d expect when enrolling on a cookery course.

There are still spaces available for the Thermomix cooking class, which you can book on site; the location is the Pudding Pie Cookery School in Middleton Cheney.

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Cookery Courses News

How to use what you learn at cookery courses

A question many people ask when, having recognised they have a flair in the kitchen for one style of cuisine or another and are looking to extend or certify this talent by taking a cookery course, is: what use can I put that knowledge and experience to?

Sure, it’s great cooking for dinner parties or serving up a treat for your partner and receiving the plaudits, but don’t you ever think that there could be financial gain from this culinary prowess?

Starting up a food business is a big step. Sure, eating will never be short of a market, but there are so many others in the niche that potential chefs and/or entrepreneurs may be put off by the competition. You can go on all the cookery courses you like, excelling in every discipline, but why isn’t there a course out there that combines learning to cook and how to turn that into a successful business, all in one?

Well, now there is, tucked away in The Emerald Isle in Donnybrook, Dublin. Over the first two Saturdays in March, they’re putting on a two-part cookery course with a difference, where the emphasis is not so much on the food itself, rather the food for thought that so many start-ups don’t consider enough before rushing to open their doors to the public and subsequently rarely see their first anniversary.

The Cookery School at Donnybrook Fair is not, as such, a business school by any stretch of the imagination. At its core lies a healthy breadth of cookery courses from historic and native Ireland itself, stretching across the globe. As well as offering a taste for every occasion, its cookery courses are an occasion for every taste, as their classes cater for seasoned chefs and beginners, families and children, spots specifically tailored for teens, private lessons for corporate days out and even cookery courses for men. Have they left anyone out?

Their schedule is cram packed with specialist disciplines, with cooking classes almost every day of the week, except Sunday. Many are taught by the cookery school’s professional chefs and tutors but their is a healthy spattering of guest celebrity chef appearances throughout the year, too. In March alone, Audrey Gargan is sharing her sushi expertise (7th) and Elizabeth Carty, author of ‘Shrewd Food’, follows the success of her January ‘Health and Wealth’ cookery class with a new instalment going by the same name as her successful book (27th). And no menu would be complete without cheese and wine, which Elisabeth Ryan brings us a taste of on the 28th.

In between the star spots, there are classes a-plenty covering everything from cooking bread to matching your vino with your platter. All are very reasonably priced; a full schedule can be downloaded from the home page of their site: www.donnybrookfair.ie. Sláinte!