I am a self confessed foodie. But the usual combination of skint, lack of time and winter means my cooking repertoire has been sadly monotonous of late. So I was quite excited to see L’atelier des Chefs offering a Cook, Eat & Run class near my work.
The idea is clearly targeted at time-poor city workers; a half hour cooking class at lunchtime and then you can eat the result. Perfect.
I chose the Chicken Jalfrezi class, where we would be making a tomato based chicken curry. The curries I normally cook are vegetarian (I’m not, but my wallet is decidedly empty and meat is expensive…and may contain horse), so this was the perfect extension pack for me.
A couple of gripes. Cook, Eat, Run is designed to be over and done with in a lunch time – so city workers can fit it in to their busy schedules. But it does not really pan out like that in practice. They ask you to show up 15 minutes early to get you situated, so already we are up to 45 minutes. Then at the start of the class the chef happily tells us ‘these classes normally overrun’, um… for a target audience with client meetings and performance reviews this lackadaisical approach to time keeping is not ideal. Even if the cooking does not go past half an hour, you still have to have enough of your lunch-break left over to sit down to eat it afterwards.
So what I imagined would take half an hour, as promised on their website, will actually take a minimum of an hour. When you add that to the time it takes to get from the office to L’atelier des Chefs and back, it is way longer than a normal lunch-break and left me making up time at the end of the day. Not ideal.
The class itself was fine, but not exactly a great one if you want to extend your cooking skills. You prepare and cook the meal as a group (of around 6), so it ends up being a cooking demonstration with a little bit of participation from you.
It might just be me, but I find the best way of learning to cook is by doing it yourself. So you get a feel for the different ingredients, smells, colours and textures. But in order for that to happen you need to be in a cooking class with a maximum of about three people working per dish.
With six people making one curry I got to grate the garlic, put the oil in the pan and stir for a bit when the chicken went in. Hardly enough to give me the confidence to make the entire recipe from scratch. I could watch YouTube clips for that level of interaction.
But I do think that L’atelier des Chefs fills a brilliant niche in the city. If you have a team building event to organize for your office, or want a dinner with a difference for a group of friends, one of these classes would be ideal. You work in a team, get everyone talking, and produce something tasty at the end.