I got into sushi when I lived in Edinburgh and my flatmate was such a fan. She used to take me to Sushiya on Dalry Road and we made sure we wore elasticated trousers (not even kidding!)
I recently had 3 weeks between jobs, during which I set up this blog, went on a mini road trip of the UK, and enjoyed being free from responsibility in the big smoke. And what better way to max out my “lady of leisure” title than to go on a cooking course!
I found cooking school L’ateliers des Chefs online. They have a wide range of courses to choose from, including cuisines from all over the world as well as specific skills such pastry making. Prices range from £15 for a 30-minute “Cook, Eat & Run” course up to £144 for a 4-hour masterclass.
If you work near to either of the L’ateliers shops in St Pauls or Oxford Circus you could pop out for the Cook, Eat & Run in your lunch break – so that would be £15 for tuition and a great lunch! I know I would if I didn’t work in the relative middle of nowhere.
To make the most of the experience, I wanted to choose a type of food that required specific guidance rather than a something I could easily make at home with a recipe. So I chose sushi, as this is certainly a cuisine I had never attempted to make before and wouldn’t know where to start!
The course was 2 hours for £72, and this included all ingredients and tuition. You can purchase drinks while you cook and eat – my course started at 2pm, which, as post-midday, I deemed a acceptable time to have a glass of wine. After the course, you can stay and eat at your leisure with the rest of your group. They send you the recipes from the class via email and you have the opportunity to set up an online personalised recipe book, where you can access many more of the L’atelier recipes.
So, what’s on the menu?
The chef started by demonstrating how to perfectly cook sushi rice seasoned with rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt, as a basis for the sushi.
Maki roll with sea bass and pickled cucumber
A classic maki roll (or makizushi). These are the small ones with seaweed (nori) on the outside.
Temaki hand roll with salmon, shallot and bean sprouts
This is a cone of nori, with the filling spilling out of the wide end (or both ends in my case; I struggled with this one).
California roll of crab and avocado with wasabi and sesame seeds
The California roll is a type of makizishi, and is sometimes called an “inside-out” roll, owing to the fact that the nori is on the inside and the rice is on the outside. These are bigger than the classic maki.
Our chef was Fabricio Cano, a lovely Peruvian man with Michelin star experience, who freelances for L’ateliers and runs Fab Cooking, “bringing Latin style and colour to private and corporate cookery events.” With just 4 other people in the class, I really felt we were making the most of Fabricio’s expertise. He gave very clear instructions and stepped in when needed (i.e. when trying to roll the temaki, see above). The methods/recipes were all simple enough for reproduction in the home, and, need I say it, the sushi results were delicious.
The other members of my group were all a good laugh (George was a professional comedian; he had us laughing until there was nori-turn [soy sorry; on a roll!]), so the class was relaxed, friendly and non-competitive.
Give it a go!
Booking is done online, where you can browse the courses by type, length and location. You can only book the classes 4 weeks in advance, which does make it quite tricky if you want to book a weekend class (these seem to fly off the shelf as soon as they become available). Gift cards are also available – you can purchase with a set amount of money, and the recipient can choose the course and day to suit them, adding more money if needed (tightarse). What a great present!
How to find…
Oxford Circus branch:19 Wigmore Street, London W1U 1PH 0207 499 6580
St Paul’s branch:10 Foster Lane, London EC2V 6HR
0207 796 0110