I was given a voucher to take a class at Atelier Des Chefs recently, which made me think back on a class I’d taken earlier this year at Leiths. Both experiences were good, but different – a rundown below.
Next up, I’d love to take a cooking class somewhere in London that focuses on a particular “ethnic” cuisine – I don’t have a particular preference of cuisine, I just am looking for a menu of less common/more interesting dishes, so if you have any recommendations on that front, I’d love to hear them.
Leiths School of Food and Wine felt very serious indeed – intimidating even – because I knew that they targeted students considering cooking as a profession. They have certification and accreditation programs in place, and this focus on serious cooks is reflected in the pricing. I did a single class on soups + stews which was £155. A set of classes, like “intermediate cooking skills,” will set you back £840. You also need to book pretty far in advance. For my class, we had an instructor who had written a book on the subject, and a skilled kitchen assistant who helped with clean up, technique tips, and answering questions when the instructor was occupied.
We broke up into teams of two, with two teams using each kitchen island in a spacious test kitchen. I think my class had about 12 people total. We received a handout of the recipes we were preparing, which made for easy reference. Overall, I thought the quality of the instruction was really good; the instructor demonstrated very clearly and made his way to each team. I also lucked out in pairing with a gem of a partner, a retiree who had good basic skills. We received free tea and coffee upon arrival and free wine when we sat down to eat the meals we had prepared.
Atelier Des Chefs has a different customer in mind than Leiths – with their central locations and mix of quick lunchtime and early evening classes, I would imagine the average customer is a young professional looking for a fun activity (especially as you are led to a cash bar before the class begins at ADC!). I believe we paid £75 for the class.
We went to the Oxford Circus location for a Spanish class. Honestly, it was a bit difficult for me to pick a class here – my kitchen skills are intermediate, but I’m pretty adventurous about new recipes, and because of this, many of their menus looked too basic for me. Not bad, just the sort of “best of” of each cuisine that I felt I’d made already at home or didn’t require instruction to prepare.
My class was supposed to have five people but two didn’t show. Because we were preparing only one of each dish, everyone got to do a little of something. (At Leiths, each team prepared a complete set of dishes, and I felt like I was a little more involved. Possible also that the dishes at Leiths were just more involved.) The small size led to hands-on instruction, which was great. There were no printed instructions (we received emailed recipes later) and I can imagine that I would have gotten confused if the recipes were more complex.
All in all – for me, Leiths seemed like the right level. Atelier Des Chefs was a fun one-off – if I were meeting a friend to do a class, I might look into their calendar again.
Atelier Des Chefs: https://www.atelierdeschefs.co.uk/en/cooking-classes.php