What’s cooking in your kitchen?

A growing number of cooking classes on offer across the Hunter and Central Coast means it’s never been easier to pick up some tips from the best in the business.

With hatted chefs, awardwinning restaurants and a world of international cuisine right on our doorstep, the Hunter is a gourmand’s delight. But if you’re looking to dine out on that restaurant-quality feeling from the comfort of your own home, why not brush up on your culinary skills at one of the region’s growing number of cooking schools and classes. Whether you want to win over the family with your home cooking prowess, or spice up your dinner party menu, Hunter and Coastal Lifestyle Magazine is helping to whet your appetite with some of the tastiest tutorials on offer

The Essential Ingredient Newcastle Cooking School

The only fully equipped, dedicated cooking school in Newcastle, The Essential Ingredient, is the ultimate destination for foodies who want to up their expertise in the kitchen. Located at The Junction, the school features a designated space designed to make it easier to teach many people in a variety of different styles. The classes are presented by a number of different teachers, from nationally hatted chefs to local cooks with amazing home recipes passed down from their grandparents. MasterChef contestant and dessert wunderkind Reece Hignell will let you into the secret Art of the Tart, while Nonna Angelina Di Lorenzo will teach you how to make authentic potato gnocchi, with other topics including festive canapes, layered sponge cake, traditional South Indian cuisine and more. The school offers everything from full day masterclasses where people create banquet meals or long lunches, all the way through to hands-on three hour shared menus and quick 90-minute skills-based classes. They also cater for the next generation of chefs, with ongoing kids classes set to a bespoke syllabus.

Find out more about what the school offers by visiting www.essentialingredient.com.au/stores/the-essential-ingredient-newcastle

Margan Restaurant

Located in the heart of the beautiful Broke Fordwich wine region, Margan Restaurant is ‘acclaimed agri-dining at its finest’, having pioneered the kitchen garden concept locally. The restaurant’s menus are designed around what is harvested from the estate’s one acre kitchen garden and orchard. Margan Cooking School stays true to this concept, with head chef Thomas Boyd taking participants on a tour of their estate-grown produce before hosting a hands-on cooking demonstration. To truly complete the gourmet experience, class participants also enjoy a threecourse lunch in the award-winning hatted restaurant, matched with Margan Limited Release wines. Margan Cooking School is held monthly (apart from a break in January and February), with the December class offering tips for perfecting a delicious Christmas feast, while in March participants can learn the art of fish filleting and curing.

Visit www.margan.com.au/DINE/Upcoming-Events for more details.

Estate Tuscany

For something a little more customised, get a group of friends or colleagues together and book an exclusive visit to the cooking school at Estate Tuscany. A minimum of 10 guests are required for the private three-hour session, which offers a fun way to experience a spectacular meal whilst learning about culinary art led by Executive Chef Emilio Llausas. There is a choice of three seasonally changing menus, however groups can also opt to complete the MasterChef-style challenge, which is aimed at building teamwork skills, cooperation and leadership while having fun at the same time. Teams will each receive a “mystery box” and be given a set time to create a two-course menu. Each course is then judged by Emilio and management, with an overall team winner and a chef’s dish of the day awarded.

To find out more visit estatetuscany.com.au/corporate/cooking-school/

 A little nibble of extra offerings:

The Verandah Restaurant, Pokolbin:
Learn how to cook a Spanish paella, tasty Spanish churros and sangria with owner Tim Suffell. Verandah Restaurant is located on the award-winning Calais Estate. www.verandahrestaurant.com.au

Hunter Resort
Join Executive Chef Phillip Collis and his Hunter Valley Cooking School team in their purpose-built cooking school kitchen and library. Expect a hands-on class, cooking all dishes from scratch with local organic produce.

The Bhakti Tree, Mayfield West
Cooking classes are periodically held at this Hare Krishna-run vegetarian and vegan café.

The Cunning Culinarian, Maitland
Offering children’s cooking classes after school and during school holidays, and adult cooking classes by appointment.

My Father’s Table, Wollombi
Lebanese and Middle Eastern food, workshops and cooking classes in an informal setting full of laughter.

Mayfield’s Pork Ewe Deli
An international foodie heaven, transporting you to the streets of Paris or Barcelona with a large range of expertly selected cheese, charcuterie and groceries, both imported and local.
For more info: www.porkewe.com.au/classes

Julie’s Place
Learn the secrets of celebrated home cooked meals from the first ever winner of MasterChef Australia, Julie Goodwin.
To book your place visit www.juliesplace.com.

BBQ School
For those who enjoy the distinct flavours and char-grilled taste of barbecue cooking, you can master your skills on the tongs when the team from BBQ School make one of their regular visits to the valley.
Check out www.bbqschool.com.au for the schedule of upcoming Hunter Valley classes.

Majors Lane Cooking School
Situated on the edge of the boutique Lovedale wine region on the site of the Lovedale Smokehouse Café, Majors Lane Cooking School serves up an alfrescostyle experience with classes held in their covered courtyard overlooking the beautiful vineyard. Ben Sales is expertly guiding participants through a variety of classes.
Visit www.majorslane.com for more info.

Read more in the Summer issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine.  

Story by Michelle Meehan