Baking and Desserts · Cooking · In The Kitchen · Uncategorized

The Re-Inspired Home Chef: A case for why every home cook should take an amateur cooking class

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Today’s post isn’t a DIY-walkthrough or tutorial. Instead, it’s an encouragement to go seek one out, in order to revive your creativity and whet your appetite for self development!

Last year, my sister-in-law, her sister and I all received gift certificates to “The Dirty Apron“, a cooking school here in Vancouver. Nestled in a historic part of downtown, the school offers a variety of single-day classes, including hands-on 4 and 2.5 hour classes in which you view a demonstration, cook a meal, and then sit down with your fellow classmates and a glass of wine to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

My sister-in-law and I were very lucky to receive a 4-hour class gift certificate from our family, and after hemming-and-hawing for quite a long time (read: months) over the enormous variety of amazing classes, we finally decided on a seafood class, as we felt it was an area of cooking we didn’t know much about. The class was entitled: “Ocean Fling: The Ultimate Seafood Class”, and the read-up on the site promised we would learn how to make the following: “White Soya and Sesame marinated Yellow Fin Tuna with pressed Avocado and Yuzu foam, Pan-roasted Halibut Cheeks with Olive Oil-poached Prawns and Saffron Aioli, and seared Arctic Char with Lemon Confit and Nage of Summer Vegetables with crushed Potatoes” (The Dirty Apron, 2016).

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Now, I don’t know about you, but the last time I attended anything resembling a cooking class,  I was in high school, surrounded by fellow 14year-olds, amidst the scent of burning casseroles and the sounds of squeals over not wanting to touch a gooey raw egg. Based on this past experience, my imaginings of what a cooking class would be like involved a stern older woman peering over my shoulder as I cooked, ensuring that the recipe was followed to a tee, barking instructions, with not a whole lot of room for creativity. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this, but was excited none-the-less.

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Now this post isn’t meant as a walkthrough of my class, or a direct review of The Dirty Apron – this is, after all, a DIY, Home and Lifestyle blog, and my aim with anything I write here is to inspire creativity and to encourage people to really get into enriching their home through hands-on creative activity. But I’m hoping by describing a bit of my experience, that it might spark in you an interest in branching out to find something similar.

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The morning of the class, the staff at The Dirty Apron greeted us with warmth, took our coats, and sat us down at a long table with the rest of our classmates. We were given a choice of coffee, tea, or a mimosa while we waited for the class to begin. The decor in the building is gorgeous, and it was fun just looking around, taking in the gorgeous chandeliers in the dining area, and the raw-edge wooden table we were seated around. When the teaching-chef arrived, we were all ushered into the kitchen to sit around the demonstration area, a long counter and cooking area with large mirrors hanging from the ceiling, angled perfectly so that the chef’s actions on the counter top were easily visible from where we were sitting.
Chef Takashi, the teaching-chef, was fun, professional, and not at all like the stern home-ec teachers from high school that you might have experienced. His demonstrations of the cooking techniqueurbanistaathome-com-why-everyone-needs-to-take-a-cooking-classs were infused with funny personal stories and useful tips for re-creating the dishes at home. He demonstrated cooking the meal in front of us, allowing for our questions as they came up. Then, we were set up in pairs at cooking stations around the periphery of the room, with each twosome sharing a stove and counter top. Our pre-measured ingredients and all needed tools (which were pretty top-notch tools) were set up for us at our work station, so we could concentrate on perfecting the preparation and  cooking techniques, rather than fiddle with the finicky details of measuring out spices and oils. As we cooked, the teaching-chef walked around, giving us tips and pointers, but leaving us to experience the cooking process ourselves. He had given us some tips on plating the food in an artistic way, but we were given the freedom to arrange our own meals on the plates as we wished, which I absolutely loved doing.

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When I returned home from the class that day and it was time to cook dinner in my own kitchen, I found I had developed a renewed sense of confidence in my ability to create a beautiful meal. I felt like my foodie-creativity had been re-piqued, and that I had the energy to try out new things, rather than defaulting to the same dishes I always made. The ingredients we had been introduced to were different than the oils, spices, and accompaniments I was used to using, but they had been so easy and delicious, and I’ve found myself becoming a bit more adventurous in my grocery shopping, reaching past the canola oil to try a grapeseed oil (I know, grapeseed’s probably old hand to most people, but it was new to me!)

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One thing I’ve found, as an adult learner, is that it can be easy to fall into the idea that once you’ve been doing something a particular way for as long as you remember, that that is the only way (and indeed the best way) to do it. We close our ears and eyes to learning new techniques for tasks we already have a technique for, because the technique we’ve been using for years has been working just fine, thank you very much. Therefore, sadly, we are closed to actually learning new things, to enhancing our skill repertoire with the tools that might fit us even betters than the ones we currently use. I made a commitment to try to keep my “I already know how to do this” mindset at a minimum, and to try to stay open to unique methods and techniques to add to my skill set. I am so happy I did, because I walked away from the class with several new cooking behaviours that fit into my cooking style even better than the ones I had replaced.

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It is with this sentiment that I encourage you, fellow creative souls, to seek out an amateur adult cooking class, and to re-stir in yourselves the confidence to be creative in the kitchen. We all need to eat, right? So why not have fun doing it.

Until next time,

Urbanista At Home

 

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4 thoughts on “The Re-Inspired Home Chef: A case for why every home cook should take an amateur cooking class

  1. I agree, it was such a great experience and certainly reminded me that cooking should be about having fun and trying new techniques and foods! It is easy to lose your confidence in the kitchen when you fall back on making the same dishes all of the time. I have since pulled out some of my cookbooks and definitely want to start trying some of the recipes I have dog-eared over the years.

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