Food, food, food. We all love it, we all need it.....but do we all know how to cook it? Do you ever find yourself at a restaurant or friend's place for dinner and wonder how they manage to make everything look, smell and taste so good?
Do you feel that unbelievable pressure when your having dinner guests over to live up to restaurant quality standards with all the ease of a duck to water? Well you are not alone.
I have often wondered if it was some secret society of foodies who gathered together in the moonlight to exchange their knowledge and keep the rest of us in the dark cooking our tinned baked beans on toast.
Lucky for me I was to find out otherwise! When I was invited to attend the Chifley Hotel, Wollongong for one of their Big Kids in the Kitchen series of cooking classes I immediately said yes! At last I was going to be privy to the secrets of preparing a meal fit for a king.
The class I was attending was entitled 'My Kitchen Rules' and was aimed at beginners wanting to know the basics of the kitchen. It would include techniques and information on knife skills, buying food and ingredients, fundamentals of cooking sauces, meat, pasta and little tricks of the trade. I was intrigued to say the least.
On arrival at the Chifley Hotel, Wollongong I was shown in to a private room where I was to meet my fellow foodies for the day. Much to my delight there were several attendees who were regular 'Big Kids in the Kitchen' attendees. They had not only attended many of the classes on offer in previous years but they had also attended many classes more than once. There reasons were simple - they had fun!
After a refreshing breakfast juice it was straight into the Chifley commercial kitchen with Head Chef Peter for some interactive discussions and demonstrations. Firstly, let me just say that a commercial kitchen is impressive! I found it fascinating to see where the food is actually prepared. It is definitely a 'well oiled machine' that keeps a top quality restaurant running. You gain an appreciation for how and where your food is prepared.
Chef Peter introduced us to cooking products and food I didn't even know was possible for a home cook to use. I mean I have seen these products listed on a menu and they all sound and taste so good but it didn't even cross my mind that I could use them in my own kitchen. Smoked sea salt, liquid smoke, micro herbs and truffle salt were now quickly becoming a part of my shopping list. Best of all I now know how to use them.
We then moved on to how to make our own sauces from scratch. Now for me this has always seemed like an enormous task but not anymore. Once you know how to do it and what to add it's only a matter of minutes before you have a delicious pesto, fish sauce and even gravy. No more bottle sauces served at my table!
Moving on to the secret of the perfect pork crackle - yum. Who hasn't spent absolute hours trying to get that perfect crackle up only to be bitterly disappointed. Those days are now gone for me thanks to Big Kids in the Kitchen. Of course I would love to tell you the secret.......but then it wouldn't be a secret! You will have to visit Chef Pete for that answer.
I always get confused when I go to the butchers with the varying cuts of meat and remembering which cuts to use in which circumstances depending on what you are cooking.
And just how do you tell if what you are buying the freshest meat you can get. Chef Peter was able to show us all how to discern by the colour of a cut of meat as to how fresh it may be and how to pick the best cut for a magnificent end result. I am certainly looking at my cuts of meat a bit differently in the weekly visit to the butchers.
We finished things off with a pasta demonstration including an easy pasta dough and how to cut or make the various pasta shapes. A great big bowl of fresh pasta is the best comfort food and so simple to make.
The time in the kitchen had come to an end but I was walking away with a feeling of renewed confidence and a bursting desire to get home and cook up a storm in my own kitchen. I found the kitchen experience completely interactive with time for questions and answers and some highly enjoyable tales from Chef Peter.
Back into the dining room and we were treated to a demonstration on how to make Sangria. It is honestly the easiest thing to put together and absolutely delicious. Perfect for dinner parties or when you have guests over. It will truly impress.
It was time for lunch! We were served with a mouthwatering fish meal complete with accompanying wine and of course the Sangria. I was in heaven. It was without a doubt a absolutely delicious and totally went above my expectations. The conversation around the table of relative strangers flowed and quite honestly it felt like we were old friends sitting around the table for a catch up.
I couldn't imagine things getting any better but I was so wrong. Out came the salted caramel slice. Absolutely to die for. I have to admit that I had 3 pieces with one (or three!) on the way out the door. I could eat that for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Big Kids in the Kitchen series runs throughout the year and offers a variety of classes including Chocolate Appreciation, Take me on a Journey to Italy and so much more! Click here for a full list.
Discuss, ask questions, get involved and learn with a passionate professional but most of all have fun! Whether you do it solo, with a friend or in a small group you will not be disappointed.
Big Kids in the Kitchen Series - $65* per person. Includes: Talk, interactive demonstration, recipes, grazing and beverage.
For bookings call 02 4201 2111 or email: email@example.com
Classes fill fast so don't delay and book today.