Cooking up a storm in Canberra
Keen to improve your cooking skills this winter? Take inspiration from our ACT blogger Mick as he discovers his inner MasterChef and learns a thing or two from one of Canberra’s best chefs. Warning: may cause feelings of hunger!
With the plethora of reality TV programs and celebrity chefs around, cooking as a pastime is as popular as ever. The thing is, some of us don’t know the difference between a jus and a gravy, or even how to tell when a steak is cooked just right.
Luckily, there is 3seeds cooking school, located in Fyshwick markets in Canberra, where you can be taught how to create everything from French dinner parties to Thai banquets. I was lucky enough to test it out first hand, and learnt all there was to know about soups, sauces and stocks….and believe me, there is a lot to know!
The evening starts with a casual wine and chat with the chef, Andrew Haskins, our teacher for the night. Suitably relaxed, our group of 10 – armed with a cooking knife and apron – get ready to get our hands dirty.
With an impressive résumé of numerous local and national restaurants including Pod Food in Pialligo, Andrew Haskins has a relaxed and informative way of teaching us how to make the basis for what can be an impressive dish. We learnt how to expertly break down a chicken; how to de-bone and skin a fish and how to slice an onion without bursting into tears. This was all within the first 30 minutes!
The expert knowledge of our teacher came to the forefront as he explained how important a good stock is as the basis for many sauces and soups. Student participation was encouraged, and I volunteered to skin and de-bone a fish that was to be baked and converted into a delicious fish curry.
The detailed, yet remarkably simple instructions from Andrew helped when attempting to perform the tasks ourselves. We were all encouraged to write notes down to help us when we eventually reached that point in our own kitchens.
The activities were, at time, frantic in the kitchen as multiple stocks, sauces and soups were prepared over the following three and a half hours. A delicious beef stock was used to create a sauce for some pork belly which would become an appetizer to devour as we learned.
A French onion soup was prepared with home-made croutons.
A fast Thai fish curry was prepared and we all given our own portions to enjoy as we continued the demonstrations.
Taste-testing as we learnt was definitely an added bonus to the class!
The opportunity to ask an experienced chef those burning questions you’ve had about preparing your own dinners is priceless, but it was the anecdotes and stories that Andrew had of working in the restaurant and café industry that I found equally as invaluable. The conversation flowed throughout the night, not just with the chef, but also with the fellow cooking aspirants.
The finale of the night was some perfectly cooked eye fillet, mashed sweet potato and vegetables along with a choice of sauces that we’d help prepare ourselves.
We all sat down together, enjoyed the meal that we’d help produce, and finished the evening with enjoyable company and lively discussion. It was definitely a night to remember and with so many great recipes to take home as well as my hand-written notes and experience, the night is worth a lot more than you pay.