With summer drawing in, it's time to go in search of indoor activities. Whether you feel that calling yourself a kitchen novice would be putting it kindly, or you consider yourself an accomplished cook, we've rounded up a selection of cookery classes that should keep you entertained (and well fed) for a few hours, at least.
Al Bayt, Dubai
The baking classes at Al Bayt, The Palace-The Old Town are aimed at beginners, specifically parents who want to learn the basics and then pass these skills on to their children. The female head pastry chef leads the class, which see attendees being taught how to bake and decorate three different cakes (carrot, date and pineapple) as well as learn the secrets behind preparing perfect scones.
The first baking class begins on June 17 at 10am and lasts for two hours. After the class, participants are invited to sit down to afternoon tea in the Al Bayt lounge. You'll leave with a customised apron and yet more cake.
Classes cost Dh150 per person. For reservations, call 04 428 7805 or email email@example.com.
The Yacht Club, Abu Dhabi
The InterContinental in Abu Dhabi alternates the cooking classes on offer at the hotel, moving from outlet to outlet. For the next couple of months, they are focusing on teaching attendees how to roll sushi the correct way.
The classes start at 11am at The Yacht Club and begin with the head chef Dexter Saludar teaching the group the basics, before going off-piste a little with some of the restaurant's more adventurous sushi rolls: tempura-battered smoked salmon and cream cheese fusion roll included. After that, you'll sit down to lunch, before being sent on your way with a Yacht Club goody bag.
Classes cost Dh215 per person, which includes lunch. Sushi lessons are being held this Saturday, then again on June 23 and July 14. For reservations, call 800-IC-DINE (800-423 463) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Culinary Forum, Dubai
The Spanish-born chef Marta Yanci is the brains behind the recently launched Culinary Forum, an offshoot of her catering company Marta's Kitchen in Jumeirah Lake Towers. Yanci runs some of the sessions herself, while at other times different local food experts take the reigns. For example, tonight and on June 13, Natalie Nassar will teach attendees how to whip up French patisserie pies.
The classes are described as combining the "best elements of a cookery demonstration and a lesson" and whatever the subject, emphasis is placed on it being an informal, interactive experience, with plenty of cooking, talking and eating.
Prices for the session vary but tend to be around Dh250 per session. For more information about forthcoming sessions or to make a booking, visit www.martaskitchen.com.
Table 9, Dubai
Table 9's cookery schools are themed, meaning that you select which basic skills you'd like to brush up on and then the chefs Nick Alvis and Scott Price are on hand to help out with the rest. The idea is that they teach you something useful that will come in handy when you're cooking at home: during the bread class, you'll learn how to make focaccia, fougasse, brioche and butter and the pasta class will see you preparing the dough from scratch, before turning it into pumpkin tortellinis, lobster ravioli and linguine.
The weekly classes cost Dh495 per person and begin with coffee and a continental breakfast; you'll leave with a Table 9 apron and a set of recipes. For more information, visit www.table9dubai.com or call 04 212 7551.
The Thai Kitchen, Dubai
Supattra Boonsrang, the serene head chef at The Thai Kitchen in the Park Hyatt, Dubai, was born in Esarn in north-east Thailand. At the cookery classes she runs, small groups work together, picking up tips and preparing a specially selected menu, which can either be enjoyed for lunch or early dinner, depending on the timing of the class. We recommend you try to discover the secret behind her delicious hot-and-sour sea bass.
Classes cost Dh350 per person (including lunch or dinner). For more information, call 04 602 1804 or email email@example.com.
Jones the Grocer
Both Jones the Grocer in Abu Dhabi and Dubai run weekly cookery classes. They are held in the evenings and begin with antipasti and homemade lemonade, before the serious business of preparing dinner at individual work station begins.
The classes vary, so you can decide which dish you'd like to learn how to prepare. Examples include roast chicken breast, pumpkin and sage roulade and buttered sprouts and Indonesian prawn curry with tamarind and coconut. At the end, you'll sit down to eat what you cooked with the other members of the class and leave with a Jones the Grocer apron. For those with a sweet tooth, it also runs a masterclass dedicated solely to chocolate.
The classes cost Dh375 per person. For reservations, call or email the stores directly; contact information is available at www.jonesthegrocer.com.
Balance Cafe, Dubai
The Balance Cafe Cookery School in Dubai's Oasis Centre offers several classes a week, at various times during the day. This month, you can learn how to prepare a three-course Indian, Italian, Thai or Japanese meal or brush up your baking skills at their cookies and sponge cake class. The classes on offer change each month and there's often an emphasis on healthy eating or preparing child-friendly food.
Each participant is assigned to a fully equipped individual cooking station and at the end you'll sit down to sample your creations.
The classes cost Dh250 each or Dh800 for four. For more information, call 04 384 7010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Atayeb, Abu Dhabi
If you fancy getting better acquainted with Middle Eastern food, then Atayeb at the Yas Viceroy hotel offers cooking classes on demand, featuring food primarily from Syria and Lebanon. The chef Wafaei Al Zaham begins by demonstrating how to prepare the dishes of the day, before encouraging participants to get involved and then letting the group sample their creations.
The classes cost Dh250 per person, including soft drinks. For more information, call 02 656 0600.