Why cooking classes make great gifts

Want to make a delicious dinner to really impress the family?

Or would you like to recreate a Zumbo dessert? Perhaps still looking for a standout gift to give for Christmas?

A cooking class may be the answer.

As the rise in cookery and food culture brought about by shows like MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules continues to inspire and interest, people of all ages increasingly want to give it a go themselves.

Chifley executive chef Peter Washbourne says lessons such as those offered at the Wollongong hotel and restaurant are designed to do just that - share chefs' passion, knowledge and experience with people who have interest in food and cooking and are willing to expand their horizons.

"With the rise in TV cooking shows, the onus is on people to experiment with food and be creative, to come up with different ideas to cook and present food," Washbourne says.

"Classes give people an exposure to a kitchen environment, to take knowledge and skills from dishes prepared at the hotel and replicate them at home.

"People want an all-round fun, learning experience.

"They want knowledge of products, expertise, techniques and all elements of cooking - how to prepare and present food, how to get food to taste the best and where to buy best quality produce.

"It's about the whole package of the class and that's why we attract such a mix of people."

Washbourne says classes are about listening to what people want to cook, what they want to learn and keeping up with current trends.

The experience of French fine-dining cookery is also on offer in Wollongong with Caveau Restaurant's head chef and owner Peter Sheppard, who has been successfully running his cooking school for 10 years.

"The idea is to give a bit of background and education to people about what we do in the restaurant, which isn't really day-to-day normal. "It's an insight into all the work that goes on in the kitchen," Sheppard says.

"Cooking isn't being passed down from parents to children as much, so there's a generation who haven't been taught to cook and haven't spent much time in the kitchen.

"They're looking to learn to cook, for their health more than anything.

"People are rightly more interested in what they're eating and the quality of those products.

"Classes are a chance for people to learn the tricks of the trade in a relaxed environment ... an enjoyable afternoon of cooking, preparing and eating three courses of restaurant-inspired dishes.

"To talk about something you're passionate about and share that knowledge with others is always great," says Mr Sheppard.

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