With major success of TV reality shows such as Top Chef, everyone is getting excited about their cooking skills, and wants to show the rest of the world what they can do in the kitchen. Consequence (or not) of the trend, cooking schools are flourishing in most cities, offering hands-on courses where a happy few cook together and enjoy the product of their honest work together, around the table – and a glass of wine.
So that’s what I did ! I got myself into the cooking business for a day… On a Saturday morning, while everyone I know was sleeping off their crazy Friday night to sober up, I joined a group of dynamic women at Kitchen Central in Dora, where young Farid Chehab, chef and owner of the place, welcomed us for his “All about the fish” special, preparing to turn us into master cookistas for the day.
Why a cooking class?
The thing is, cooking is part of a family heritage for me. Indeed, in our house, as soon as a kid can stand on his feet, he is handed a spatula with the delicate mission of stirring whatever is in preparation. But after years of stirring and mastering the art of cakes and pies, I felt it was time to move on to higher stages of my culinary experience.
The class takes place at the beautiful workshop where chef Farid officiates on a daily basis, in his central kitchen. The premises are spacious and luminous, and rather “chic” for a kitchen, with the modern – yet industrial – looks of a loft. It was structured in a way that circulation from one work surface to the other is easy, making all actions efficient.
Time for the glam’ now! Once our amazingly sexy hairnets perched on our lustrous heads, we plunge into the action. Leaving nothing to chance, chef Farid has printed out a full file for us with recipes and instructions to follow. Helped by his crew, we prepped up all our ingredients for the 3 different recipes we were to accomplish. Spirits were certainly high, and the atmosphere very friendly, yet, the whole time, the young chef was guiding us with the aim of reaching a result. Which we did, after 3 or 4 hours of intensive work – interspersed with bursts of laughter and photo-shoot sessions here and there.
What next ?
When our three dishes – a ceviche, a caldero and a tajine – were finally ready, we all gathered around the table to taste the result of our arduous work. To go with our fish-based dishes, Farid had chosen a local wine, Blanc de Qanafar, from a small family-owned winery in west Bekaa, that was a pure pleasure to sip along.
Go for it !
What I truly enjoyed about the class is that it’s all hands on, and no one is left without a mission to accomplish. Despite the fact that I have learned to cook fish – which I never do –, what I found very helpful was how time is managed in the kitchen.
So, if you’ve gone through the drive-thru several times this week, have packed on a couple pounds over the last month and have no idea where they’ve come from, or are becoming known in your circle of friends as the guy or gal who would rather phone in for takeout instead of drive three blocks to the grocery store… you should totally try it!
After all, cooking is fun, and I have learned that it makes you feel empowered and confident, that it encourages creativity and can really help you unwind. So why not treat yourself with all of the above wonders?!
Whether you need to read “Cooking for Dummies” before the class or, like me, know a dash about it, but need to renew yourself, Kitchen Central is your place. Go for it.