New year, new class, new cooking school…

Hands up who loves a brand new year? Come on, let me see them! Okay so maybe not the cold & wet bleakness of January…and maybe not the too tight clothes & the too empty wallets that follow Christmas with alarming annual regularity…but the flawless, spotless, pristine pages of a new diary, a new week and a new year are pretty wonderful, right? I don’t make resolutions – call me crazy but I’ve never felt the urge to put myself under extreme amounts of pressure to start delivering something new at the hardest time of the year! – but I do like the thought of filling my life with new experiences and if they’re connected to something delicious that I can eat, so be it!

With that in mind, last week I ventured out to try a cooking demonstration at the Divertimenti Cooking School on the Brompton Road, a few doors down from the twinkly-against-a-black-velvet-sky lights of Harrods & Harvey Nichols, y’know, the cheap end of town…


Ah, Divertimenti, how do I love thee, let me count the ways…your overflowing shelves of glossy, hardback stacked cookbooks…your baskets full of kitchen trinkets I never knew I needed…your Instagrammable copper pans hanging from the ceiling and catching the light as they twirl…your immaculate pastel enamel cookers that I can’t afford to buy but can swoon over till the cows come home…yep, if I must confess to having a shop crush in London, it’s on this gorgeous shop, smack bang between South Kensington & Knightsbridge underground stations. On this occasion through, I wasn’t there to spend on spiralisers or salad spinners, I was there for my first foray into their cookery school kitchen downstairs and frankly, it was a thoroughly delightful way to pass an evening.

Having felt only a few hours earlier that day that ugh, it was cold and ugh, I was tired and ugh, it was only Wednesday and ugh, I wasn’t sure I felt like going anymore, it was with total relief that I skipped home afterwards, warm on the inside from ruby wine, interesting company and, most importantly, delicious food. Held by the lovely food stylist, writer & cookbook author Jennifer Joyce, this class focused on some of the fabulous dishes in her new book ‘My Street Food Kitchen’ and it was the most relaxing blend of intimate – just 16 of us sat around a giant workbench/oven/sink – and casual – free & very welcome glasses of wine were handed out upon arrival to wash down the wonderful plates of food that came our way throughout the 2.5 hour session.


In the skillful company of Jennifer, we traveled from the humidity of Thailand to the exoticism of South America and the excitement of Korea as Jennifer demonstrated a lusciously pink, citrus splashed tuna ceviche…

…soft & sweet pillowy white steamed buns stuffed with spicy pork..

…glossy & (in the right sense of the words) absolutely finger licking good Korean chicken wings…

…and bulgogi beef with rice & dangerously addictive pickled Lebanese cucumbers, full of fresh & sour crunch.

Everything was talked through and demonstrated in front of us, questions were shared and answered with patience and passion and comprehensive recipe cards were available for us to take away at the end so that we could recreate the flavours of the world in our own London kitchens. Oh and did I mention a 10% discount for purchases over the following fortnight? Soooo bad, I mean good, I mean bad…

I went alone and had a great time so don’t feel that you have to go with someone and don’t be put off if the only company you happen to have is your own fabulous self. The Divertimenti staff are so friendly and welcoming and it’s easy to make conversation with others around the table who on this occasion were both men and women, aged from their mid 20’s to mid 60’s, some of whom had been before and others were first timers like myself. Classes range in price from £65 – 100+ depending on the length & participation required so gift vouchers for them would make perfect presents for the always-hungry person in your life…c’mon, we all have THAT friend!

Divertimenti offers a wide range of classes & workshops – everything from knife skills to vegetarian Indian food to sushi to baking – depending on whether you want to wield the knife yourself or sit back, drink wine and watch someone else do it for you and let’s be honest, there are times when we want to do the first…and times when we just need to do the second. I came away glad that I’d gone and tried something new & food related for the first time and excited to give some of the recipes a go myself.

Now please excuse me while I go stock up on tamarind sauce, sesame seeds & more of those kitchy gadgets I now know I simply can’t live without…

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