L’atelier des Chefs
19 Wigmore Street
Tel: 020 7499 6580
Date of Last Visit: Saturday, 21 September 2008
The Damage: The 90 minute class costs £54. This includes two smallish glasses of wine and a coffee, if you’d like.
The Victim: Me
The Background: I get approached a lot. And I don’t mean by older men in bars. Although that does seem to happen more to me than to anyone else I know. (Julie has argued that it’s my proclivity for talking to strangers. To which I respond…You can take the girl out of Long Island, but…)
Older men aside, I do get approached regularly by food-related firms that want to tell me all about their product so I’ll write about it on my London restaurant blog. I ignore most of their e-mails.
London’s first branch of L’atelier des Chefs was one of those firms that sent me one of those e-mails. But I didn’t ignore their e-mail. Because you know what?
I’m bored of eating out all the time. I’m bored of restaurants. I’m bored with not being satisfied, even when I do eat out. I need a new angle for my blog.
Time. Time to learn how to cook.
So I went along to their class on Saturday. And you know…you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.
The Entrance: The kitchen is clean. Very clean. That’s our workspace in the photo above. There are about 14 people in the class. I may not be able to cook, but I’m the only person who knows what sabayon is. (Too well-acquainted with the dessert menu now, isn’t she?) We get started.
We’re multi-tasking. We start with the raspberry tiramisu first. We want it to have time to set. I throw some of the ingredients into the bowl and let my tablemates do the rest–although I do a little whisking later. Then, I set to chopping sage and chives. You can see the results in this slightly blurry photo. Knife skills are paramount.
The Starter: We move on to the starter: tuna with citrus. I get to drop the tuna in the sesame seeds, and I’m proud of myself when someone in the class says, "How much tuna is that?" And I say in my head, "That’s a little over a pound." And Chef Baldwin says, "That’s about 500, 600 grams." (1 lb = 453 gr.)
I also get to cut up an orange. But not with an orange peeler. I’m doing it with a knife. A sharp one. I massacred an orange on Saturday. I’m sorry, orange. (I refused to touch the grapefruit. Just for the record.)
The Main: After all that excitement, I mashed the potatoes. And boy did I mash. Chef handed me a billy club. Seriously. And I mashed and mashed and mashed. (He told me to imagine someone I really didn’t like.)
After all this, my team trusted me to do the meat. Chef filled our pans up with oil. A LOT of oil. And told us to do about 3 minutes per side. We decided that it ended up being about 2.5 minutes on the first side, and about 2 minutes on the other side…
Then, it was back to the potatoes…
The Dessert: Ah, it was time to have dessert, and although this really wasn’t my sort of thing, I do have to say that we get a lot of points for presentation. Ours looked better than anyone else’s…
The Verdict: I had a great time at L’atelier des Chefs. And keep in mind I went by myself. So you should go by yourself. Or go with friends. You get to enjoy your work on premises…you set up your dessert and then your starter, and then you take a break. With some wine. And then you finish preparing your main and then sit down to enjoy it. With some more wine. And then maybe some coffee. So it’s sorta like going out to lunch. Or dinner. But you do a lot of the work. (Not all of the work. Chef is a fantastic multi-tasker.)
All in all, a lovely experience.