By contributor Mathew Lea.
Over the last few years I’ve been to a number of cookery classes run by various different organisations. Some have been excellent and others… not so good. One in particular forbade the taking of any photos for ‘data protection’ reasons. Hogwash. In reality it was because the class was so terrible they didn’t want any photographic evidence to appear online. But I digress; I am here to talk about the Jamie Oliver Cookery School and my experience with them.
The website had a comprehensive list of classes to pick from and it did take me some time to make a decision as everything was quite appealing. In the end I went with the Vietnamese Street Food class as something a bit different to what I would normally cook and eat. On the menu for the Vietnamese class was beef pho, prawn and vegetable summer rolls and pork meatballs with a spicy dipping sauce called Nuoc Cham and gem lettuce leaves.
On arrival we were warmly greeted by Head Chef Dimo and given a glass of prosecco to sip whilst we waited for the remaining guests to arrive. Once everyone had signed in, we gathered around the central kitchen for a safety talk and run through from Dimo of what we would be cooking. At this point there was a lot of talking and demoing of what we would be cooking and this all took around 30 minutes. We were also told that the beef pho had already been prepared earlier in the day (which makes sense as pho takes hours and hours to make), however this meant that for a two hour class we were now only going to be cooking pork meatballs and the prawn and vegetable summer rolls.
Cooking and Prep
After the comprehensive demonstration from Dimo, it was our turn to get stuck in! Up first were the pork meatballs. We combined some finely diced garlic, lemongrass, chili and shallot with honey and the pork mince before shaping the mixture into quenelle shaped meatballs. Next up was to create the Nuoc Cham which was made with fish sauce, white rice vinegar, fresh chili and palm sugar and slowly heated in a saucepan.
Prawn and Vegetable Summer Rolls
The final item on the menu was the prawn and vegetable summer rolls. The prawns were already cooked so with this dish it was more assembling than anything. After soaking the rice paper in water, we layered it up with sliced cooked prawn, vegetables and cooked thin rice noodles before carefully wrapping it all up like a super healthy translucent fajita.
As the beef pho had already been prepared, the only thing left to do was for Dimo to spoon this into a giant bowl with some fresh vegetables and very finely sliced raw filet steak (which cooked through the residual heat from the pho).
With our meal now complete, it was time to eat. The meatballs were very tasty and worked well with the Nuoc Cham. I found the prawn and vegetable summer rolls were a bit bland and needed some more seasoning to bring them to life, but again worked well with the Nuoc Cham. The beef pho was very aromatic but somewhat lacking in any real beefiness and may have needed much longer to reduce down and draw the flavour out.
In conclusion the food was nice but I was a bit disappointed there was not more cooking involved. A large portion of time was spent watching and assembling pre-cooked food, although it may well have been due to the nature of the class. That being said I did have a fun time, the atmosphere was great and Dimo was excellent as our host and leader. Overall I would be happy to go again to the Jamie Oliver Cookery School and try my hand at another cuisine in the future.
Food I fancy attended as a guest.