This week, I started cookery school! From 9-5, Monday to Friday, now until July 2014, I’m doing the Leiths Diploma in Food and Wine. I can already tell it is going to be an exhausting 3 terms with a huge amount to learn, but I’m excited to share my progress with you here at the end of each week alongside my normal posts. So, what happened in week 1?
· The first day felt like Christmas. Brand new knives with my actual initials engraved, loads of new equipment, new full chef’s whites to try on – the works. All our equipment was blobbed with nail varnish so we know whose is whose. I’m fully addicted to painting my nails and buying nail varnish, so the bare nails rule at cookery school is a challenge (I now paint it on as soon as I get home on Friday and take it off last thing on Sunday evening). So, getting to bring in a bottle to mark all my stuff made me embarrassingly happy. Also on the embarrassingly happy front – using my new peeler. It’s just so satisfying.
· We cooked in the morning and had demos in the afternoon (although this swaps order every week). In my first proper cookery demonstration I was stunned by how much information we learn. Who knew there was that much to learn about eggs?! (And I get a strong feeling that we really only touched on the subject). It was so interesting though – a jam packed three hours of learning techniques, facts, figures and 8 different recipes. If you ever need to know the percentage of protein, fat and water in an egg yolk is or how to prove a frying pan – I’m your girl. · There was a great moment in our second demo when our teacher casually asked ‘Does anyone watch Great British Bake Off?’ The whole room, that’s 48 of us, immediately chorused ‘YES!’. Our teacher laughed and said ‘Okay, have 2 minutes to talk about it’ and I have never heard the room so buzzy as everybody immediately turned to their neighbour to vent about the latest results, the bakes, the contestants – everything! It was very hard to bring us back to concentration again – definitely a great bonder in cookery school!· One of my most interesting experiences this week was making hummus. I’m not normally a big fan of hummus so tasting as we went along was tricky as I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for! When our teacher tried it, she added a hefty pinch of salt and told us to try it again. It had made such a difference! Whereas before it had been fairly bland, suddenly you could taste all the other flavours we knew we’d added such as cumin and cayenne pepper. She added another pinch and we tasted again and again it was completely transformed! Seasoning is definitely going to be an on-going lesson and salt may become my new best friend. Arranged fruit salad on mango & passion fruit coulis · I once read someone describe Leiths as feeling like the safest place in the world. Whilst I can’t quite say that yet (mainly due to insanely sharp new knives and searingly hot metal saucepan handles) I can definitely say it is a bubble. After spending the day there – cooking all morning, talking about what you cooked all morning all lunch break, and then in a demo all afternoon about what you’re going to cook all morning tomorrow – it becomes pretty easy to forget that there is a world outside where perfect food is not the centre of the universe. I sit on the bus home and look at people in business suits or school uniform and I'm like what? You mean you haven’t also just spent 3 hours batoning veg? Your carrots are still round, not in perfectly 1cm square x 6cm long batons? I don’t understand? Bring on week 2.