Cookery School News

Learn to cook at your stag or hen do – who needs Prague?

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, Stag Nights often turned into weekends, Blackpool, Dublin or, more recently, Prague, becoming the destination, subject to all manner of depravity by heaving hen nights or steaming stag soirées.

However, one of the more chic activities finding popularity with both the male prenuptial party and even more pleasing for the respective bride-to-be, is the cookery class for the bridegroom and his stags. Yes, you read that correctly – single men are spending their last hours of freedom not getting an early start on a night of debauchery but learning to cook, instead.

One such cookery course is at Marmalade Cookery School, who recently hosted one groom-to-be and nine of his closest friends who hired the services of owner and hands-on operator Tatiana Bento to at least give one hapless bachelor a clue when the happy couple move into the marital home.

The guys in this particular cookery class organised the afternoon partly in a sense of fun but also because Marmalade Cookery School cater for those who have developed their own style from years of singledom and know their way around the kitchen to those who have to ask how to turn a toaster on.

According to Tatiana, the prominence of male celebrity chefs has been as good an advertisement for the cookery school as anything, although many of the male parties are still down to the best man having one last laugh on the groom. But there is another surprising statistic thrown up by this type of event.

The majority of the women, two thirds in fact, view cooking not as a past time to dive into and develop as a skill, but as a chore; more than that, one in six women who attend Tatiana’s cookery school often eat out because they are inept or rely on their partner’s prowess in the kitchen.

Tatiana started off baking her own bread, which she learnt as part of her Portuguese upbringing where women still take on the role of chief in the kitchen; subsequently, her friends encouraged her to use those cooking lessons to forge a career of her own, learning others to cook what she took for granted.

Since then, Tatiana has found her market, mainly 20-35 women, who have as much of a laugh and a chat whilst at the cookery courses as learning to cook from Tatiana’s cookery school, a world apart from her days as an archaeology student before upping sticks to Swansea, where she has moved full time to be with her boyfriend. Gower and the surrounding region has also proved to be a fertile ground for her inherent Portuguese cookery, as well as her original breads and pastries and also, that most of traditional of Portuguese dishes, sushi (?).

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Cookery Courses London News

Raw talent required for sushi cooking course in London

It’s not very often one has to learn how to cook a meal that is served raw. But the Japanese have made an absolute art form of serving sushi and its demand is surprising considering that, fifteen years ago, had you put: “raw fish” on your pub grub menu, your punters may have thought you slightly bonkers.

Such has demand changed in recent times that one of the top London cooking schools, Leiths, have incorporated a one-off sushi cookery class into their cookery course curriculum (try saying that with a gobstopper in your mouth). To be ran on Friday May 24th, May, this one-day workshop is hosted by star of kitchen and television (it’s a wonder there are any restaurants left, these days, with the amount of time celebrity chefs spend in front of the camera, rather than the stove, hey-ho) Sachiko Saeki.

Native of Japan, where she grew up learning the art of sushi cooking in at the deep end in her parents’ restaurant, Sachiko soon familiarised herself with the world’s growing loving affair with the fascinating menu and set out to be a professional chef in the discipline in her own rite. From those early days touting her trade as a budding starlet behind a wok, she has risen to one of the most renowned chefs of the dish, even tutoring Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall on River Cottage Veg the subtleties of serving sushi.

For the cookery course at Leiths, there is combination of demo as your instruction with plenty to get your hands stuck into when you have a grasp of the basics to prepare your own sushi dishes. The dishes themselves will include learning how to produce the rolled effect common to many servings (maki), Nigiri sushi and traditional Japanese salads and sauces using authentic ingredients, which will all be weighed out in advance and then presented to you once you’ve had your meet and greet over pastries and coffee.

Whatever you have made during the morning can obviously been eaten at lunchtime, which is served with either Japanese beer or wine. If you’re only there for the practical aspect an alternative light lunch is provided where no cooking has been partaken in. Any food that you prepare after your midday break can of course be taken home afterwards.

There will be other Leiths chefs on hand, as always, and all of the ingredients, lunch and drinks are included in the price of £150 for the one-day cookery course. The only thing you need to bring is an apron, notebook and an open mind. Kick-off is at 10.15, to conclude at 14.30. The course requirements are downloadable from the Leiths’ site if you want more info; you can either book online or buy a voucher as a Valentine’s Day or Easter present for that special someone who you think may fancy a present with a difference.

Cookery Class News

Japanese food not all raw fish and teryaki

If you thought that learning to cook Japanese is as easy as scaling a fish and sending it around a conveyor belt and labelling it as sushi, think again.

As with their culture, the Japanese rightly put similar passion and effort into spreading their culinary expertise as they do into projecting their national heritage. To the majority of the Western World, Japanese cooking remains a mystery and it takes teachers like Reiko Hashimoto to impart that knowledge.

In a self-styled cookery course, including beginners, home cooks, gourmet and master chefs, Reiko has released her cookery course in book format, entitled “HASHI – A Japanese Cookery Course”.

Other than the ‘gourmet’ aspect, the anticipated book follows the same structure as her cookery classes and displays a similar frenetic energy and passion, bringing a wide and varied menu to the would-be cook.

Sushi still on the menu

As you would expect, there is a section relating to sushi under the fish and seafood chapter, but this is where the book takes on a whole new tone

Stepping Stones to Japanese expertise in the kitchen

Not only does each section provide a cookery class for each recipe, but you take the lessons learnt in the former section through to the next, building your knowledge as you go.

Beginners under starter’s orders

Soups and starters really set the tone of the cookery book from the outset, taking you through a six-course meal.

With further chapters concentrating on Salads and Side Dishes, the Fish and Seafood as previously mentioned, Meat and Poultry, Rice and Noodles and Tofu you have the real Japanese cooking experience laid out for you, if you cannot get to the cookery class, in person.

Pig out with Japanese meat dishes

There is, throughout the book, a continual reference to pork as one of the staples of Japanese protein (other than Tofu), ranging from marinaded pork bellies in brown sugar and ginger to soups using the versatile ingredient with roughly chopped root vegetables.

For those who only think of Japanese food as raw fish and teryaki, this collection will open your eyes to the versatility of the Japanese kitchen.

Unusual for cook books of this nature, which stumble from recipe to recipe, this publication uses prose that flows throughout.

In addition to this extraordinary book, the London Cooking Club have long been fans of Reiko’s recipes – you can discover more about them and how their past successes in “Demystifying Japanese Cooking”, online.