First published on 7 May 2010. Updated on 27 Jul 2012.
Mention French cuisine and cue images of fluffy pastries, intricate cakes and mouth-watering macarons. In the Baroque Masterclass, however, chef and nutritionist Nathan White dispels the myth that all French food is an indulgence, and explains the real reason why French women never get fat. Run every Sunday, the courses include whole animal cooking with your choice of duck or Petuna ocean trout, vegetarian, Baroque favourites and the beloved original macaron masterclass. There is so much more to these classes than what goes on the plate: students prepare a four-course menu and learn the art of mis-en-place, ensuring more time is spent enjoying your guest’s company than preparing their meal. Along with step-by-step instruction on recipes and cooking methods, White breaks down the nutritional aspects of each ingredient. The best part of the day is relaxing and enjoying your creations with a wine to match. And remember: it’s healthy, so feel free to reach for the macaron and coffee to finish.
Sydney's fresh produce king brings you a cooking class so popular you have to book a month in advance. You usually only learn one recipe, but golly it's a good one. Classes are held roughly three times a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you aren’t confident you know your spork from your spatula, book in for an hour-long teaser class. The emphasis here is on simple recipes prepared well using fresh produce. The added bonus is that you can precede a class with a killer lunch upstairs, and visit the downstairs providore afterwards for ingredients to make the dishes at home.
The “Inverno” cooking programme makes the most of the colder months and indulges in all things rich and hot. Get straight into the Italian spirit and share a prosecco over a delicious plate of antipasto before class begins. Then, under the watchful eye of Tony Sgro, from small goods butcher Quattro Stelle, learn the art of sausage- and salami-making. Your hand-made salami will be hung and aged at Signorelli, and ready to collect six weeks later – and believe us, it is well worth the wait. If you are feeling game, put your biceps to the test kneading dough for a thin-crust piece of pepperoni heaven. The dough you make can also be used for calzones, garlic bread and dessert pizzas.
It's hands-on tuition at He Cooks, whether you want to do a one-off $120 specialty lesson (such as Perfect Pasta, Delicious Desserts or the Ultimate Roast) or sign up to a course. And you get to eat and take home what you make and have a beer or a glass of wine while you're making it. Once you've passed the six-lesson He Cooks course ($615), you can graduate to the advanced level and work in a professional kitchen with paying customers (your own family and friends) for five consecutive Monday nights at Pink Salt in Double Bay.
This hands-on course is all about knowing what goes into your meals, and the beauty of building your food from the ground up. Essential classes offer a range of tutorials, from knife sharpening to regional specialty courses, and focused sessions on stocks, sauces and kitchen fundamentals. This winter, join Rob Hodgson of Le Grand Boeff as he takes the season’s freshest produce from paddock to plate. The course includes a guided culinary tour of Pyrmont Grower’s Markets, too, where you learn the art of selecting quality produce and meet with local farmers. Try to resist filling up on samples because the French provincial feast you will prepare back at the Essential kitchen will blow you away.
The secret is out, Sydney is hot for Mexican food, and with a little bit of instruction you could host a Mexican fiesta that rivals restaurants such as Surry Hills’ El Loco and Narrabeen’s Mexicano. (Okay, with a lot of practice, maybe). There is so much more to Mexican food than tacos and tortillas, and here you can expand your horizons and master recipes that are packed with colour, flavour and a little bit of fire. Run by former owner of the dearly departed Rattlesnake Grill, Victor Pisapia, the class includes knife skills and a full banquet menu of light and fresh Mexican recipes. Location changes depending on course. 1300 337 011.
Do you find yourself reaching for a two-step Betty Crocker packet mix when asked to bring dessert to a dinner party? Well, after a few hours in the kitchen with former Guillaume at Bennelong chef, Vincent Gadan, you will be rolling out pastries, macarons and soufflés like it’s second nature. Following first, second and third servings of dessert, break for a light supper and a glass of wine. Be prepared, though, once your friends get a taste of your treats you will be on dessert duty indefinitely.
Is there anything better than an overflowing platter of cheese and biscuits? And being able to boast that you hand-made it, of course. Turn milk into a range of mouth-watering cheeses at this two-day course. Students will be instructed to prepare cloth-bound cheddar, mozzarella, Camembert, Greek-style fetta, ricotta and chabichou. 2-4 Avenue Rd, Glebe 2037. 0408 198 952.
Simon Johnson Talk Eat Drink
Talk Eat Drink classes started in 1994 in a makeshift space in the Simon Johnson Pyrmont store's loading dock as an informal, intimate demo session with top chefs. Today, the roll of presenters still reads like a Sydney dining wish list: Vincent Gadan (Patisse), Andy Evans (Spice Temple), Damien Pignolet (Bistro Moncur), Colin Fassnidge (Four in Hand Dining Room and wickedly good newbie 4Fourteen) and so on. The two-hour sessions see a presenter talking and cooking (with the help of a few game volunteers) while you watch, eat and, yep, drink.
Sydney Seafood School
With some of the best seafood smack-bang on our shores, it's no surprise the SSS gives lessons on how to cook everything from pipis to octopus, and in every dang style you'll ever want. With cameo appearances from Sydney's best foodies, regulars including Matt Moran (Aria) and Guillaume Brahimi (Guillaume), and complimentary wine tastings, you'll be cooking up a storm in no time.