A different dining experience: 8 cooking classes to try in the UAE
Cooking classes enable you to pick up skills and indulge in an elaborate meal at the same time. We round up some of the options available in Abu Dhabi and Dubai
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A series of 10 Italian cooking masterclasses starts at the Raffles Dubai restaurant this month. The sessions will be conducted by chef Doxis Bekris, who has worked at The Address and Kempinski hotels in the emirate, and is the co-author of cookbook Famously Mediterranean among others.
The variety of dishes you can learn is truly expansive, with each class tackling three of Italy’s best-loved treats. These include three kinds of gnocchi, colourful salads, classic pasta dishes, handmade breads and pizzas, and delicious desserts, including the Sardinian seada fritters with cheese and honey. Pizza, pasta and dolce aside, Italian cooking is known for its delectable meat and seafood mains, and chef Bekris will adapt some of these for home cooking, such as lamb with polenta, caponata and thyme jus; pan-seared salmon with puttanesca sauce; and baked sea bass with fennel, lemon and capers.
The classes cost Dh300 per person, and are on every Saturday from 11.30am to 2pm, between September 9 and November 11. Go to www.raffles.com/dubai
Michelin-trained chef Romain Van Durmen personally oversaw the interior of the Chef’s Palette, a private antechamber adjacent to Flow Kitchen restaurant at Fairmont The Palm. Especially designed to host cooking classes, the space is done up in inviting tones, with each counter boasting state-of-the-art equipment.
The idea is to teach participants to prepare restaurant-level meals, including maki rolls, canapés, foie gras with melon salad, brioche and mash, and even Belgian waffles with nitro ice cream. Those with simpler tastes can sign up for afternoon classes at 12 noon, for Dh195, inclusive of the lunch buffet at Flow.
The paired masterclasses are from Dh345 per person, for a minimum of six people, from 7.30pm until the last of the decadent desserts served by the pastry chef have been polished. Between September 25 and November 28, the venue will also host children’s cooking classes from 4pm to 6pm for kids ages 6 to 14 years at a cost of Dh250 per person. Go to www.fairmont.com/palm-dubai
The restaurant at Hilton Dubai Creek allows you to choose in advance what starter, main course and dessert you’d like to learn how to prepare from its extensive menu.
Head chef Enver Can Gümüs, who has previously worked in Cyprus, China and his native Turkey, is very mindful of food intolerances and dietary preferences, and as such can provide alternate ingredients for each of the items on his menu. There are also plenty of vegetarian dishes. And your options are: ratatouille, chicken and quail lollipop, slow-cooked octopus, three-cheese ravioli, and Wagyu or mushroom sliders from the hot starters selection; vegetable terrine, artichoke hearts, cured duck, veal carpaccio, steak tartare and foie gras among the cold starters. In mains, choose from among 15 dishes – five each from the meat, fish and veggie categories. Our top choices would be the braised lamb shank with truffle mash, seafood bomba rice and celeriac steak with green pea purée and crushed broad beans in Napolitana sauce. The desserts are relatively simple to make, and include staple favourites such as panna cotta, chocolate fondant and rhubarb with custard.
Classes typically last for three hours, and take place from Sunday to Thursday at 4pm and 6.30pm, and on Friday at 4pm. Go to www3.hilton.com
Spice Spoons, a Thai cuisine cooking class that’s part of most Anantara properties worldwide, is conducted in a market-like set-up, complete with rickshaw-style seating, in one section of the restaurant in Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort. The chef talks you through the three dishes you’ll prepare – options include tom yum and tom kha soups; stuffed pastry cups, Thai fish cakes and chicken satay; and various curries and stir-fries – as well as the spice flavours and techniques required to get the sauces right, and then conduct a step-by-step demonstration. The classes cost Dh750 per person, which includes the lesson, lunch and one beverage, plus a cool souvenir gift set with an apron, a chopping board and a Spice Spoons recipe book. Participants who’ve prepared their dishes to the chef team’s satisfaction, could receive a certificate of achievement – although we suspect everyone will get something right.
The sessions run from 11am to 1.30pm, from Saturday to Thursday, for between two and six guests. Go to dubai-palm.anantara.com/
The Spice Spoons cooking class at the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara in the capital stands out for its outdoor excursion option. Through this, guests can choose to accompany members of staff to Al Mina market at 8.30am, and learn how to select fresh veggies, authentic spices and the various other ingredients they might use to prepare their lunch later that day. This session offers four dishes: a soup, starter, main course and dessert, and is conducted by chef Srichan, who has previously worked in Phuket, Malaysia, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, as well as the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, where he was the Thai cuisine chef-instructor for seven years.
The class costs Dh600 per person for the cooking lesson, and an extra Dh120 for the trip to the market, which also gets you a Spice Spoons shopping bag. It also has no minimum requirement in terms of number of participants. Go to abu-dhabi.anantara.com/pachaylen/
Jones the Grocer
One of the oldest and most popular cooking classes in the capital, the sessions conducted by Jones the Grocer – at three locations in Abu Dhabi and one in Dubai – are being constantly updated. One month you might learn how to make crab cakes with chilli jam and Asian slaw, the next a chicken Parmigiana or Indonesian prawn curry. The outfit’s current masterclass will not only teach participants how to make a four-ingredient linguini from scratch, but will also coach them on selecting, filleting and cooking a whole sea bass.
The chef team says they often find that guests are intimidated by the prospect of purchasing and preparing a freshly caught, whole fish, which they are now seeking to address. Upcoming dates and locations include: September 6 and 20 at Al Manara branch, Dubai; September 9 at the Khalidiya branch, Abu Dhabi; September 16 at Al Mamoura, Abu Dhabi; and September 23 at Al Raha, Abu Dhabi.
The sessions cost Dh275 per person. Jones also offers a beverage workshop, where you can learn how to make cold-pressed juices, for Dh85, and family masterclasses where parents and children can make a pizza together, for Dh125. Go to www.jonesthegrocer.com
Fans of sushi, sashimi and maki can sign up for private masterclasses at this Park Rotana restaurant, which the chefs say is a great option for group activities. The experience includes a welcome drink, followed by a short theory course, which will teach you about different kinds of sushi, as well as the preparation dos and don’ts. The class itself will focus on one of the most tricky things to get right: wrapping the sticky seaweed around the stickier rice ball so your fillings stay intact. There are three sessions to choose from: level one (2.5 hours, for Dh190 per person), where you will learn how to make two types of maki rolls; level two (2.5 hours, for Dh210), where you will learn two maki rolls and two types of nigiri; and level three (three hours, for Dh260), for two maki rolls, two nigiri and cone-shaped temaki. All attendees will get certificates, group photographs and goody bags, plus a sushi and miso soup lunch. Some chef tips for when you’re making sushi at home include: keep your hands moist; keep your knife blade dry, so you can make a clean cut and not crush the roll; and, most importantly, do your wrapping delicately.
Go to www.rotana.com
The Arabic-Mediterranean restaurant at Yas Viceroy is known for its elaborately prepared and presented meals, and user reviews of its open-session cooking classes claim that the chef-instructors make it easy enough without dumbing it down. You will learn how to prepare hot and cold mezzeh, such as fattoush, kibbeh, hummus and mouhalabia, as well as couscous and hearty tagines, sipping cups of refreshing Moroccan tea in between. Dinner includes a taste of what the class has put together, as well as a proper Arabic feast by the professionals.
The three-hour evening sessions typically include between 10 and 15 participants, and are held on Fridays, at Dh420 per person. Go to www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com
Updated: September 2, 2017 12:23 PM