So Many Lessons, So Little Agony - Can't Cook Is An Obsolete Excuse

The Age

Tuesday February 27, 1996

Michele Curtis

Once you decide to learn to cook, you will be faced with an agonising choice of what type of classes to take. MICHELE CURTIS investigates.

JOIN the thousands of Melburnians who are turning their hands to culinary matters. All over town people are turning to the Meccas of the culinary world - cooking schools. There they learn how to saute, poach, fold, whip and create tantalising delights for themselves and family members.

With so many different types of cooking schools operating in Victoria, there is something for everyone to master. Whether you need an intensive six-week course to learn everything, or you want to specialise in breadmaking, cake decorating, or want to cook like one of Australia's greatest chefs, it's all possible.

A quick flick through the cooking class section in the telephone directory is enough to get your mouth watering. Be it Cooking for Blokes, Microwave Cooking, Simply No-Knead Bread Making or Malaysian cooking you want, it's all there. Some people love to teach in their spare time, while others have made a full-time career out of it.

Queen of the local cooking classes is Diane Holuigue. Her Armadale-based school, The French Kitchen, attracts the best of international and local chefs to her stoves. Coming up soon are demonstration classes with chefs such as Philippe Mouchel from Paul Bocuse, Bill Marchetti and Guy Grossi doing a double act, Cheong Liew preparing two menus and Christine Mansfield from the Paramount in Sydney. There's also hands- on Classic Cuisine, a springboard to becoming a confident cook, or Summer Feasts with speedy recipes for hot weather dining and Mediterranean Bread with Cathy Gale.

Television chef Gabriel Gate is all-for men in the kitchen.

In fact because most of his classes are filled by women, he has devised a men-only course to get those SNAGs involved.

Gate aims to teach us all how to enjoy cooking and appreciate food and wine, all of which he says, makes better cooks.

The Council of Adult Education has a number of courses on interesting food topics. In the past these have included Home Cheese Making, where you make and take away a camembert, and Making Sense Of Asian Ingredients, with a walking tour along Victoria Street in Richmond, finishing with lunch in one of the local restaurants.

William Angliss College is Melbourne's leading catering college. Apprentices Victoria-wide attend these hollowed halls each week to learn everything they need for a career in hospitality.

Lovers of Asian food are also well-served in this town. If curries, dhal, tandoori, roti or how to cook the perfect rice grabs your taste buds, you'll need Philomena. The exotic tastes and flavors of Philomena's Southern Indian heritage come to life in her five-week course. Or maybe you want to master Chinese cooking - there is no one more skilled than Elizabeth Chong to teach you. The basic five-week introduction course covers stir frying, steaming and how to cook rice. You get to eat the results, and take the recipes home with you to try out on your family.

Malaysian and Thai foods also get their workout - it seems that people can't get enough of the East.

Just as hot around town are risotto lessons: nearly everyone is offering intense workshops on how to create this creamy Italian wonder. Diana Marsland Cooking offers one among the 120 different courses she presents each year. There's something for the kids as well with a two-day course in the school holidays.

This will hopefully inspire them to appear in your kitchen more often and will give them all the basics of a three course meal. Maybe they will get really enthusiastic and offer to cook your next dinner party.

If a weekend foray into the countryside appeals, there are a couple of excellent cooking schools out of town. Treat yourself to a weekend away, relax in comfortable surroundings and meet like-minded people.

Howqua Dale near Mansfield specialises in residential hands- on cooking classes. They offer four-day intensive courses with guest chefs to teach everything from cake decorating to enjoying seasonal pleasures. They also conduct gourmet cycling tours of wine regions throughout Australia, as well as cooking tours through Europe.

Sunnybrae in Birregurra specialises in country cooking classes with an emphasis on fine local produce, carefully prepared.

You can come out of your shell with Seafood Explained in quick and easy lessons. Learn the basics with Stocks and Sauces, Bread-Making, Soups, Ice-creams, Game, Pasta and Risotto or Desserts. All in all there's plenty on the menu for everyone.

© 1996 The Age

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