We’re surrounded by a plethora of cooking programs, celebrity chefs, cook books and magazines, yet there’s nothing as therapeutic as getting off the couch and learning to cook.
Besides promoting better nutrition, learning to cook has many benefits: giving a sense of well-being, and boosting confidence in our own ability to master skills, be self-sufficient and to create.
Whalen (2014) in The Wall Street Journal contends that the kitchen is a sanctuary, with therapists using cooking to treat anxiety and mental illness.
Cooking is therapeutic, the WSJ says, because it is ‘behavioural activation’, a positive activity where every step comprises a new goal that’s easy to accomplish, giving (almost) instant reward.
Cooking can also be very social, building communication and cooperation. Like any creative pursuit where you learn new skills, cooking classes can lead to new friendships. They even make great date territory. What better way is there to find a person who loves great food and is willing to do something for others than through a cooking class?
More Gold Coast embarked on a few classes around the Gold Coast, trialling places you could go to try out your new loves – delectable food and perhaps a prospective partner! Here’s what we found:
Salt Meats Cheese The 4217, 10 Beach Road, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5661 1517
There’s a sense of ‘bon viveur’ at Salt Meats Cheese that warms the heart; a Mediterranean camaraderie that makes us want to become part of the family. One way to do that is to join a cooking class.
Held every Sunday afternoon and by special arrangement, Salt Meats Cheese classes are populated by young tourists and locals eager to learn new skills. For little more than a restaurant meal, you can build your culinary knowledge, gain new recipes and learn the essential techniques to make basic pizza or pasta, eating your creations accompanied by a glass of Birra Italia or wine at the end of the class. Some classes also include antipasto mid lesson.
Create together then eat together is one key to the success of this class. The other is the sense of fun. Salvatore, the pizzaola teaching the lesson, is a natural showman, making food not only sexy but also fun. Laughter ripples through the class as he chides an errant class member: “What are you doing?”
The class sentiment is neatly summed up by Chris, a participant: “I’ve never done anything like this before. It was awesome!”
Class cost $69pp (pizza) and $89pp (pasta).
Icon Cookery School Robina Town Centre, Shop 5036 The Kitchens, 19 – 33 Robina Town Centre, Robina Ph: 1300 426 626
If you’re looking for lots of choice in cooking classes, Icon have about 30 different classes; the best range on offer on the coast, run by a dozen different chefs. They also carry the advantage of location, being situated on the first floor of The Kitchens, Robina, accessed by a lift from the ground floor.
Having trained apprentices for eight years, owners Peter Mills and Imelda Bordiss decided to realise their dream of a cooking school, bringing everything together in one purpose built kitchen to cover dual purposes. Beside the commercial kitchen, an ambient dining area doubles as the apprentices’ classroom.
We attend a 3-hour Thai cookery class covering five dishes, held on a weekend evening. Even for accomplished cooks, there’s plenty of learning to lap up from Chef Lee Hilder – tips and tricks, new techniques, shortcuts and, most of all, the generous ‘asides’ that litter a good class with culinary information. Some classes are followed by a meal and a glass of wine; in others, you take your creations home.
Classes range in price from $60 – $150, depending on their time length, number of dishes covered and complexity. From children’s classes to international cooking, sweet treats to healthy eating, and fermentation to gluten-free cookery, there’s a class to suit all age groups, food preferences and palates. Gift vouchers are available for purchase – a great idea for the foodie in your life (or for the person you wish would become one)!
Double Zero 2/2715 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5526 8635
While those of us with British origins inherited the sandwich as basic fast food, lucky Italians scored pizza, for generations the fastest street food in Italy. Make it, bake it in 90 seconds, fold it in a piece of paper and you have a cheap takeaway. You’ll see it still in Campania, Italy – the region which surrounds Naples, we learn in our Double Zero pizza masterclass.
It’s learning from the best at Double Zero, the first pizzeria in Queensland to be recognised worldwide for its service of true Neapolitan style pizza, accredited with the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association.
Classes are held on the first Saturday of every month. First, pizzaola Nicola Masci teaches us to make the dough, the most time-consuming part of any great pizza. It takes a combination of high resistance ‘00’ flour, sea salt, fresh yeast and water, added together with a lot of kneading and resting; a 24-hour process so that the yeast’s work is completed and the dough is easily digested and feather light.
Ingredients, method, oven…we’re making pizza as it’s been made in Italy for centuries, and when we add just a few toppings and pop our pizza into the huge domed Stefano Ferrara M 130 oven, we can finally see the result of our hard work. It’s time then to sit and enjoy a communal lunch with classmates and a celebratory glass of wine. Class cost is $79pp.
Tenteram Fine Foods 62 Kyte Street, Currumbin Valley Ph: 0418 881 418
Kay and Justin Reeves share their love of Indonesian cuisine through cooking classes in their secret Balinese-styled hideaway in the Currumbin Valley.
sing recipes from their travels, the couple were also motivated by health, seeking to make versions of traditional dishes which maximised the healing properties of natural ingredients. So, Tenteram Fine Foods began, a small-batch artisan business producing a range of all-natural Indonesian curry pastes, sauces and sambals; products without the use of salts, refined sugars, shrimp paste, fish sauce or preservatives.
In 2014, the couple began a cooking school where they could teach others how to cook Indonesian food using their products with spices readily available on the Gold Coast. Tenteram’s products feature in every recipe; healthier, gluten-free, dairy-free, preservative-free and vegan-friendly versions of traditional dishes. It’s a class which is suitable not only for the time poor but also for the health-conscious.
While it’s almost impossible to replicate the exact flavours of Balinese cuisine or the setting of taking a class in Bali itself, the dishes we make in the class are tasty and vibrant and, at the completion of the class, we sit together to enjoy a feast of exotic food on a veranda facing out to tropical bushland. Classes are held on Saturday and Sundays and run from 10 am to 2 pm at a cost of $155pp.
Cocotte Dining Shop 16A Robina Quays Shopping Centre, 361 Robina Parkway, Robina Ph: 07 5689 1366
Cocotte holds cooking classes from time to time, showing the technique of Japanese cuisine and supplying recipes. The class ends with a meal and wine or beer. (GFGC has not attended this class…yet!)
My Private Chef Ph: 0432 535 248
Technically not a cooking school, who wouldn’t like their own private chef to show them how to make a dish or a degustation before you sit down and dine with your guests! Craig Johnston, My Private Chef, can do just that within the privacy of your own home, demonstrating either a ‘watch and learn’ recipe, or a ‘show and tell’ degustation.
With Craig’s wife Lucy being a florist and stylist, your table can be transformed into a dining wonderland. With bubbles flowing, it’s the ultimate novel twist on an exceptional dinner party or a celebration with that someone special.
Whalen J 2014, ‘A Road to Mental Health Through the Kitchen’ IN The Wall Street Journal, December 8, Accessed 23 February 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-road-to-mental-health-through-the-kitchen-1418059204
NOTE: Prices correct July 2017. Good Food Gold Coast took each class as a guest of the venue.