School's in

August 2010

It’s all over and it’s safe to turn on your television sets again. This is a self-confessed MasterChef sceptic talking. I watched it for 10 minutes (I was usually cooking when it was on) and decided: first, it was Big Brother in the Kitchen; second, it had little to do with food and a  lot to do with winning and losing and false tension (that music!); and third, what do I know because 70 billion people watched it and loved it every week? One thing I do know. [Other members of the Sydney Eats team do not necessarily think 10 minutes is a broad enough experience to cast judgement]. Cooking is a lot harder than watching people do it on television. You can see someone cook duck and then race out and buy duck — but what kind of duck: Peking Aylesbury? Grimaud? Muscovy? And how well has it been farmed? Is it fresh or frozen? Is it organic? Cooking is a life-long learning experience, and it helps to do a few lessons with people who know what they’re doing along the way. Here are three cooking schools, one you‘ll have to save you for and two you can access and afford easily.

schoolsinGo Mexican. If you think your local Taco joint is Mexican food, think again. A lady called Cat Brown was recently in town and she runs a Mexican cooking school in the beautiful village of Puerto Morelos on the Rivera Maya Coast. She writes, “The secret of Mexico’s memorable cuisine lies in the subtle interplay of the earthy and the pungent mixed with simple, fresh ingredients.” She goes on to say it’s a paradox “complex yet completely unpretentious”. You’ll be taught by the likes of Claudia Garcia Ramos de Celis (pictured) whose CV is most impressive. And what a great excuse to go to Mexico!

In slightly less exotic Bondi Junction you’ll find lessons in another fascinating cuisine. Here Norma Dakhoul teaches Lebanese cooking and at the next class, Sunday August 28, you can learn to all about fatoush, baba ganouj, kafta, batata harra and baqlawa. Or Norma can come to you.

And, finally, everybody’s favourite, and a lesson with a real master chef, Giovanni Pilu (pictured) of Pilu at Freshwater will be giving a class at the Barilla Cooking school in Annandale on August 17.

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