With TV shows like Top Chef, Iron Chef and Masterchef constantly on rotation, it is little wonder that most home cooks fancy themselves to be chefs who missed their calling. But becoming a good cook, let alone a chef, involves a lot more than just adding a dash of truffle oil to everything you serve: a large part of cooking is about mastering the basics. This is why we recommend all aspiring home cooks to take one (or all) of these cooking classes to polish up your skills before attempting the next dinner party. While some are more strictly speaking cooking demonstrations rather than hands-on classes, you'd still be surprised at what a difference a couple of hours in a kitchen with a professional chef will make.
Italian Classics at W52
Italian cooking may seem simple but as the many Italian restaurants that have opened and shut all too quickly in Hong Kong indicate, there is something more to this seemingly effortless cuisine. To really master everything the cuisine has to offer, Chef Francesco Berardinelli of W52 is teaching small groups of students (classes are limited to six to eight) traditional, healthy and easy recipes. We love the nuggets of information that the chef drops throughout the classes, for example his stipulation that the parmesan shavings used to garnish a beef carpaccio should never be older than 30 months. But the best part of W52's classes are their flexibility: although only two will be taught a month, students can choose their own time slot (subject to the chef's availability) as well as what they wish to cook.
A basic pasta class starts from HK$1,000 per person, but prices vary depending on the ingredients used in the class. For more information, please call +852 5168-5252.
Vietnamese Staples at Saigon
Most gourmands claim that even the very best pho in Hong Kong cannot compare to a simple bowl of piping hot goodness at any of Hanoi's street stands. If you are one of the complainers, then maybe it's time to start making your own. Taught by executive chef A-Moh, Saigon at Stanley is holding a cooking class this March that will go through Vietnamese classics from the essential dipping sauces, to spring rolls and pomelo salad and most importantly, Hanoi beef pho. Even the technique for making the delicious Vietnamese drip coffee will be taught and participants will be given a set of recipes, spring roll wrappers and drip coffee set (with coffee grounds and condensed milk) to try out all their new skills at home.The class is taking place on March 16 from 3pm to 6pm and is priced at HK$378 per person. Please call +852 2899-0999 for more information.
Dim Sum Making at Peninsula Academy
Most Hong Kong locals have grown up with dim sum and its very ubiquity may have dimmed the mystique and intricacies of dim sum-making. To learn this traditional culinary art form, we'd recommend the dim sum-making classes at the Peninsula Academy. Each class has a minimum of two students and a maximum of six, guaranteeing plenty of individual attention. An average of two dishes are taught over the hour-long class, usually the classic shrimp dumpling (har gau) and chive dumpling. Alternatives are offered if pupils have dietary restrictions. Afterwards, you can sample how your dishes should ideally turn out with an included dim sum lunch at Spring Moon.
The class is priced at HK$1,100 per person, please call +852 2315-3146 for more information.
Raw Food and Organic Goodness at Homegrown Academy
Homegrown Foods is already a supplier of locally grown and sustainable produce to restaurants such as Posto Pubblico, and in addition they also offer a home delivery service of baskets of organic vegetables weekly. And to widen their fan base of organic food-lovers, they have now introduced the Homegrown Food Cooking Academy. Two classes are held per month and is taught by the chef of Sesame Kitchen and raw-food advocate Shima Shimizu.
The ingredients used in the classes are the same that customers of the delivery service receive and four dishes are demonstrated per class, two of which will not be cooked above 40 degrees Celsius. Each class also comprises of a food tasting, post-class drinks, recipes as well as a basket of vegetables from Homegrown Food's farms so that students can recreate the recipes at home.
The next class is on March 15 at 2.30 pm and 6.30pm, the theme is "Spring". The three-hour class is priced at HK$1,200 per head; for more information, please call +852 2672-2771.
Spanish Tapas at Uno Más
Who can resist the lure of a pitcher of sangria plus delicious tapas to nibble on as Hong Kong afternoons gradually get longer and sunnier? But let's face it, Hong Kong isn't San Sebastián and if you're not impressed by the Spanish restaurants on offer, why not whip up your own tapas and serve them in the comfort of your own home?
Uno Más in Wan Chai is offering classes taught by executive chef David Izquierdo Jover and each two-hour class will teach Spanish basics such as croquetas with Serrano ham; albondigas (meatballs) with tomato sauce; Uno Más' signature paella; and churros for dessert.
The next classes are on March 12 and 19 and are priced at HK$750. For more information, please call +852 2527-9111.
Master Classes at the InterContinental
If you really want to step it up, the InterContinental Hong Kong's "A world of fine tastes" cooking series is a comprehensive series of classes taught by the chefs of Spoon, Nobu, Yan Toh Heen and The Steak House.
The extensive schedule includes everything from learning the basics such as making dashi soup at Nobu, to seasonal dishes, such as making spring lamb at Spoon during April or winter soups at Yan Toh Heen in October.
Each class takes place on Saturdays from 10.30am to 2.30pm and includes both a welcome continental breakfast, a lunch that features the dish from the class plus wine-pairing.
The next class is on March 5 and is priced at HK$1,288 per person. For more information or a full class schedule, please call +852 2313-2323.