For those wanting to thrill friends with restaurant-style culinary marvels (think El Bulli and The Square) the Michelin Star Cuisine one-day class at Waitrose Cookery School in London should inspire.
In spring and early summer cheffy techniques (which, as you might expect given the nature of the class, dominate throughout the year) are put on hold in favour of lighter dishes, forgoing the need for specialist kitchen gadgets. Techniques such as the creation of amaretto ‘caviar’, seafood foam and sous-vide cooking are reserved for the rest of the year. In their place are clean, bright recipes fusing French, Italian and Japanese influences.
Dishes such as roast loin of lamb with Madeira sauce and grilled asparagus velouté with truffled goats’ cheese are cooked, and all-important plating techniques are demystified. Though the recipes aren’t for the novice cook they’re often surprisingly quick to prepare, with plenty of tips for that perfect pea purée and lamb jus, artfully swiped across the plate. Perhaps the most involved dish is an inverted lemon tart, which involves several stages of cooking, chilling and freezing; the filling is cooked, then frozen, before the pastry base is made (hence ‘inverted’), followed by the accompanying tuiles, sorbet and fruit salad.
Your time is split between a swish ‘food theatre’ – a comfortable lecture hall equipped with cinema-screen TVs showing the kitchen demonstration from several angles – and a large group kitchen with enough ovens and work surfaces for one between two people. As you might expect, and unlike many other cooking classes that generally take place in a commercially fitted-out kitchen, all the ovens, surfaces and cooking equipment are from retail partner John Lewis and are, therefore, reassuringly domestic and easily relatable. A demonstration of each dish is done in the theatre from start to finish, before you return to the kitchen to get cooking. Don’t worry about remembering every detail or taking notes – written recipes are helpfully provided. For people who have been to other cooking classes the idea of moving back and forth between the two spaces might seem a little disconcerting, but it breaks up the day surprisingly well and means you aren’t standing over a hot stove throughout.