Saturday, 18 April 2015

French cooking class at L'atelier des Chefs

"What do they wax lemons with, chef?"


This was the question I asked the chef at our cooking class this week. In an effort to seem keen and interested (which I was!) I had asked a Stupid Question.

One of the other guys there, bless him, did try and help me out "Don't worry! We were all thinking it". But its ok, I had already died of embarrassment at this point.

So where was I asking this question, you ask?

A group of us found these excellent Groupon deals for a place called L'atelier Des Chefs near Bond Street, which run a bunch of different cooking and baking classes ranging from Japanese to Moroccan to French and Italian.

What did we think of it? And how was the food? I can only say is that I came home with a very content belly full of French delicacies after a great evening chatting with good friends and meeting new people.

To start off, we all put our aprons on and moved into the kitchen, where our expert chef (she used to work in fine dining all over the world) told us how to properly prepare the ingredients we were using.

In our French class, we cooked (see pictures below!)

Crisp confit duck leg with salad paysanne and fried quail's egg

Roasted fillet of pollock with samphire, shellfish velouté and girolle mushrooms

Creme brulee with mini madeleines

The chef departs some wise words of wisdom on cooking our dinner. These were:
- when chopping garlic, before peeling, put the piece of garlic on the chopping board, and lay the side of your knife against it. Bash it with your palm to squash the garlic. It's much easier to peel it after this and chop it into little bits.

- vanilla pods should be flexible when you buy them - if they're still, it won't work - it will only snap when you try to scrape the seeds off!

- don't crack an egg on a sharp surface, always crack them against each other or on the table. If you crack it against a sharp surface it breaks the membrane just under the shell and the yolk might run (wild).

- when frying fish skin side down, the skin will initially stick to the pan. Don't panic! Keep it there for a few more minutes, the skin will automagically unstick.

- if you're cooking with wine, you have to like the wine! It seems obvious, but the chef said that people sometimes just chuck wine in a dish because they're cooking with it. You will still have to eat it. You can cook with wine that you may not be able to drink anymore, but you would need to have liked it in its former wine life.

First up, the duck leg and salad starter.....

We fry ze bacon...

Mix the bacon with crouton, salad, walnuts and or walnut oil and balsamic dressing....

Add shredded duck.

Plate up and serve with a quails egg!

Next up, mains!

Frying pollock makes us happy.

Service please! :P I feel so Michel Roux right now.

Saving the best till last, it was (hurray!) time for dessert.

Ingredients at the ready.

Continuing with our food education, the chef told us that we should grate a lemon any more after we can see the white pithy bits. They're bitter and nasty. Also we should grate unwaxed lemons (cue stupid wax question, see beginning of post).

Team effort :) And after some more mixing and baking...we have...


This was the first time I got to use a blowtorch. It was exciting.

And ta da, creme brulee!

And here's us! Looking very happy with our food.

Have a nice (rest of) weekend, and I'll leave you with this thought...

When life gives you lemons, don't ask what they're waxed with. 

They are waxed with wax.  

Of course.


Like it? Love it? Hate it? Rate it! I'd love to hear what you think :)