I think I would quite like to move into and live a happy life at Le Cordon Bleu. Honestly, I love it. Everyone is so friendly, the chefs are so welcoming and generous with their knowledge, the classes push you without scaring you away, the food you take home is unfailingly gorgeous and you leave feeling like you have the beginnings of a real skill for life. So it was with a little bit of sadness that I attended my last class today. Well, last for now because I have no doubt that I will be back. Yep, just call me the Culinary Terminator.
So Modern and Classic Sauces. A class I booked because my own sauce making skill-set consists of cheese sauce and gravy. And not even ‘proper’ gravy. Gravy made with granules. I know, I know. This seemed liked the perfect way to learn things that really would be brand new to me so I was already excited for it but then to walk in and see it was Chef Anthony from my 4 week Tuesday night class who was running it? Even better! My last class with the chef from my first class. ‘Twas like my own little circle of life…
So where did we begin today…
With bones. Lots of them.
The chicken carcass arrived thankfully already dead and this was to be the base of a white and brown chicken stock and no, this was not any sort of racially profiled sauce class. One simply has tomatoes added to it to give a different flavour and an obviously different colour.
So chicken bones happily cooking away, it was time for the crabs to enter. And y’know how I said the chicken was already dead…?
Well I’m afraid it was down to me to prepare these chaps for their departure from this planet. With Chef Anthony and his team of helpers offering to help or do it for anyone not overly thrilled with the idea of parting shellfish from life, I didn’t have to do it myself but honestly, it would have felt really hypocritical to prepare, cook and eat them and not kill them. That said, I did tell Chef Anthony that this was my limit and if he then brought a lamb or a piglet in, my conversion to vegetarianism would officially begin. Anyway, I’ll save the details and just tell you that with the assistance of a clear plastic bag, a jay cloth, a rolling pin and every ounce of my courage, the crabs were thanked and dispatched swiftly and I hope without too much distress.
This was not a class to be off the ball in…one, two, even three sauces was clearly not considered a challenge. Why do you think there are four rings on the hob after all? Pans simmering and boiling and reducing and bubbling away, it was all go as we set about making chicken and fish stocks, bearnaise and bordelaise sauces and beurre blanc…
A creamily luscious mayonnaise and a beautifully sharp and tangy passion fruit vinaigrette was also put together with such ease and simplicity that it made me a bit sad for how quickly and already prepared we sort of expect everything nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely a time and place for convenience – I just don’t think it should over-ride the absolute pleasure you get from making something yourself if you have the chance and the absolutely gluttony that will come from how delicious your own, home-made things taste.
Last time I took a day class here it was Artisan Bread and we ate our own calzones, steaming hot and golden brown from the oven with cheese oozing out and sauce staining our fingers. I thought that was a pretty good working lunch. I wasn’t disappointed by today’s either.
A medallion of fillet steak au poivre with peppercorn sauce, again a million times more delicious than anything you’ve had served to you in a restaurant a) because the quality of food here is exceptional and b) because you prepared, seared and cooked it yourself. I’m not even gonna lie and tell you it really was just ok. It really was just phenomenal and there was a greedy, satisfied silence that hung over our tables as we ate it.
I can’t tell you great this class was and how much I enjoyed it. Apart from the fact the teaching staff were again awesome and apart from the fact that the other people were lovely and chatty but not annoying, if you are a baker at heart as I am or a complete novice of anything culinary based, you will leave feeling more like a potential cook than you ever have done before and that is something that is worth every penny and then some.
Feeling like you can try new things, that you can feed your friends and family things that will result in yummy noises every time and that you have the basic skills necessary to up your confidence and up your game – who wouldn’t want that?