6 reasons to take a cooking class

I don’t generally spend Saturday night’s in the kitchen unless its to forage in the fridge for chocolate or make some microwave popcorn, but last week I headed to the The Golden Pig to celebrate my dear friend Nell’s 40th.

Tucked away in a converted warehouse in Newstead, The Golden Pig is a Brisbane cooking school, cafe and retail store all rolled into one and the result is a feast for the senses.

For those who are new to Blonde Ambition (or haven’t had the pleasure of dining at my house), it’s not that I can’t cook, I just don’t cook and that is a very big distinction.

Despite this, I relished the idea of getting skilled up on all things culinary. This is because I like to brag about the things I have cooked, such as the Chicken, bacon and mascarpone love pie which I baked in 2009 (and have never cooked again).

I figured it would be handy to learn some new recipes because currently if I cook dinner for anyone more than three times, my offering starts to repeat itself. Slow cooked chicken tacos, anyone?

When it comes to the kitchen, owner/head chef–and in our case, people wrangler–Katrina Ryan is undoubtedly queen.

Her CV features stints as Head Chef at Neil Perry’s Rockpool, personal chef to Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise and a role at Spirit House Cooking School at Yandina, where she co-authored the Spirit House book, Hot Plate.

It’s fair to say, she knows more than three recipes.

After drinks in the lounge/bar area, Katrina divided everyone into four groups to prepare, cook and plate up a range of shared entrees.

It was like being on Masterchef, if Masterchef contestants never shut up, constantly wandered off to see what the other groups were doing and frequently paused for photos and drinks.

The entrees were Flat breads with baba ganoush; Beef Koftas with tahini sauce; Seasonal Green Vegetable salad with lemon, haloumi, mint, roasted hazelnuts and harissa; and Snapper, chorizo and red capsicum kebabs with smoked paprika mayonnaise.

Tony, Andrew and I were in charge of making the salad and conversation flowed as we chopped, sliced and grated.

That’s one of the great things about cooking classes, there’s always something to talk about it, even if it’s just about how best to prepare a snow pea.

Here are six reasons why cooking classes are one of the best activities you can sign up for (especially on a date):

1. The recipe is given to you. Have you ever tried to follow a recipe while your phone keeps going into sleep mode? It’s ridiculously annoying and stressful.

2. The ingredients are supplied and often portion controlled, saving you from performing what I believe to be one of adulthood’s worst tasks–grocery shopping.

3. You learn new things. Hurrah for knowledge.

4. Everyone looks sexier when they’re cooking or even wearing a cooking apron. Add to the mix a mortar and pestle  or a smudge of flour on your face and we may as get married right now. Why else do we say, “What’s cooking, good-looking?”

5. You get to have a wine or a beer while you cook. I know you can do this at home, but still … alcohol!

6. You don’t have to clean up. This is by far my favourite because I tend to create a mess, leave the kitchen to eat, feel all happy and chilled out and then re-enter the kitchen to discovers it looks like I’ve been ransacked by a raccoon, killing all those post-feed happy feelings.

With our entrees plated–even Matt Preston would have been impressed–and ready to share, it was time to hang up our aprons and enjoy the birthday festivities.

Katrina and fellow chef Sarah took over the kitchen to serve a delicious shared main course of Tea smoked salmon salad with fresh figs, labneh and walnuts; Lamb shoulder with cumin and tomato with yoghurt sauce; Quinoa, spinach, almond and preserved lemon salad; and Roast tomatoes with basil and olive tapenade.

The night was topped off with a magnificent Perisan Love Cake, served with oranges and a dollop of fresh cream, and an impromptu dance to Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

Then everyone was home by 11pm because we’re not 18 anymore.

The Golden Pig hold a variety of four hour hands-on cooking classes for $165, as well as wine workshops and other food, wine and beer events and I highly recommend adding it to your list of things to do this year (or your Christmas gift list).

Their fully licensed cafe is open Monday to Friday selling breakfast, brunch and lunch as well as coffee and cakes and I have it on good authority that the Bacon and Egg Burger with tomato jam, rocket and mayo is phenomenal.

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