Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cooking Classes - Urban Kitchen & NEFF Kitchen

Disclosure: I was invited to the classes as a guest

Although I often tell people I’m not great at cooking, the truth is really, I’m not bad. I can’t make anything fancy, but I’ve definitely been getting better at working with what’s in my fridge and throwing things together. 

My problem, is that I’m getting a bit stuck in what I’m comfortable cooking (ie. curry chicken and big pots of ragu), and just need a little encouragement and guidance to see how simple it can actually be to do other things.

Doesn’t help that it wouldn’t really what I make, Brad and my brother would just inhale it anyway…so there’s not much motivation from them really!

A little while ago I was invited to check out a couple of cooking classes, which I both thoroughly enjoy…and would definitely not mind receiving as a Christmas or birthday present (just saying Brad….)

17-21 Buckhurst St
South Melbourne 3025

After we meet for a pre-cook Corona or three in the foyer (perhaps a little dangerous considering we being handling knives a little late in the evening…), we are greeted by the sight of 44 commercial-grade cooking stations upstairs in Urban Kitchen. 

It’s a seriously impressive space. 

Urban Kitchen is run by Georgie and Ben Vile, who have spent a decade running Bay Leaf Catering, so know a thing or two about how a kitchen with lots of people should work! 

This particular evening, we’re getting taught how to make a couple of South American dishes by Paul Wilson, who’s recently opened Lady Carolina, and is also the culinary brain behind Acland St Cantina and Newmarket hotel, just to name a few. 

It’s an absolute pleasure to be able to hear from Paul himself, who simply knows everything about the cuisine, the differences in the regions, the culture behind the food, and the nuances in flavour. 

We get demos from Paul, who whips up a kingfish ceviche, and carne asada, which we then go make ourselves! Knives, flames and all! I love that we actually get hands on, and actually get pretty messy, which really, is the best way to learn and it’s not long before the kitchen is smelling amazing. 

Paul also invites La Tortilleria to talk to us about how they make their pure corn tortilla’s, the old fashioned way, with their grinding stones, as we stuff our faces with their delicious corn chips as well. 

After everyone finishes cooking the food, it’s all brought together to be enjoyed as a group…and if I say so myself, the results are truly delicious. I might’ve made myself 3 or 4 very full tacos that night!

We’re also introduced to Juan from Chill Bro, who make paletas, a popular Mexican ice-cream on a stick, made with real ingredients and packed full of flavour. I fall head over heels with their strawberry paleta with condensed milk filling. To die for guys! Been meaning to pop by Melbourne Central to try more of the flavours! 

Urban Kitchen’s upcoming schedule of classes is diverse and exciting, with some very reputable names taking the lead. Daniel Wilson’s burger masterclass sounds delicious, as does David Baron’s (from Ironbark BBQ) American BBQ class! Check out the schedule on their website

Stall 90, South Melbourne Market
Cecil Street
South Melbourne 

The South Melbourne market cooking school has had a beautiful facelift, following it’s partnership with leading Germain kitchen appliance brand NEFF Australia, to create the NEFF Market Kitchen. 

It’s beautiful, clean and crisp, and also very intimate, with space for class sizes around 10 to 15 people. 

We’re in for a treat this night, with Jesse Gerner from Bomba and Green Park, taking us through how to make some delicious Spanish dishes. 

Our class is a little more demo and less hands on (although I volunteer to expertly skewer the lamb skewers), but there is lots of questions and interactivity, as Jesse tells us of his favourite places in Spain, the history behind the dishes, and encourages us to smell and taste the three very different paprikas he is cooking with! 

Tapas, beautiful and simple clams, insanely delicious lamb skewers, a squid ink seafood paella and to top it all off, Jesse’s Pedro Ximenez ice-cream…it makes for an absolutely delicious and enjoyable evening. It’s definitely a space for story and experience sharing, and really getting to know the minute details in making a dish…and having the opportunity to taste what it should be like! 

Like Urban Kitchen, NEFF Kitchen also has an amazing line up of chef’s and classes, which all do sell out quite quickly (Adrian Li’s taste of Tokyo in November would’ve been amazing, but it’s all sold out!), so make sure you get on the website and check out what’s on offer. 

Sure I haven’t quite gotten around to recreating what I’ve learnt at these classes yet…but it’s definitely on the cards in the very near future! 

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