Italian dinner party Class

Why Cooking Classes at Bec’s Table

Why do we go to cooking classes?

I had someone say to me once “if owning a library of cookbooks made for a good cook, I’d be a celebrity chef by now” unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.  Back in the day, many years ago, the cook of the house would teach cookery by showing.  Recipes were learnt by watching, making, understanding and memorising.  Today’s cooking classes do that as well. If you learn better by watching rather than reading, then this is the way for you. Once you’ve mastered techniques, you’ll be off and running with your recipes. 

I’ve always been interested in cooking.  My Nana was the most amazing cook. 

All her recipes were in her head or written on scraps of paper, in the form of writing that I could barely read.  I remember standing on a chair watching her make Yorkshire puddings, Cornish pasties and all sorts of other heart-warming dishes.  Although plucking chickens was never much fun, I learnt a great deal from her.

On the other hand, my mum didn’t like to cook much at all.  She worked six days a week and after everything else that took up her time, getting a meal on the table needed to be done in a quick and dependable fashion.  Sound familiar?

Well, I figured out at an early age, if we were going to get some decent tucker in our house, it was time to start cooking for the family.  So, in grade 6, I took on the challenge.  I was a latchkey kid after school from about 4 till 6 pm each weekday, and man I ran that kitchen hehe hee Eee.  I remember the first time I tried something from a cookbook.  It was Steak Dianne with Scalloped Potatoes and a Chocolate Tart for dessert.  I was so exhausted I couldn’t eat it myself, but my mum still proudly talks about it today. Not bad from a 9-year old I reckon. Where was “Junior Master Chef” back then? Haha, My Nan could have been right along side of me.

Today, I still love to cook, my time in the kitchen is like being in my own little world.  I think cooking from the heart shows people how much you love them and enjoy their company. Eating the food, makes you feel warm inside, especially if you can share it with family and friends. I’m sure some of you feel that way too. 

After the years of chef/Patissier training?

I am so thankful that I went on and did my Certificate in Training and Assessment. When sitting down to plan a class, there’s so much to think about, if you truly want to develop a great class, full of learning.  After 11 weeks of training and from memory, over 18 units, it was a worthwhile slog.  I found it incredibly insightful and was so glad I chose the course I did.  Having the right instructors had to be one of the most important parts of the formula.

When teaching at TAFE, everyone gets to do the work individually or in pairs. It’s all hands on, and everyone learns together.  There are only a couple of disadvantages to this method of teaching.

1. The class sometimes runs a little longer or have to fit into time constraints. There is only so much you can do at one time if everyone is making.

2. The class sometimes cost a little more (lots more ingredient, prep and clean down)

But for the advantages

1. You get to watch how to do something professionally

2. You get to practice making it and given advice when problems arise

3. Tips and tricks are shown along the way so you can put them into practice when repeating in your kitchen

4. The method is explained so that you know what should be happening at each stage and can experience it for yourself.  This helps you commit the recipe to memory and when you make it again or something similar you know how and what you need to achieve

When you learn from chef or industry based instructors, you learn their tips and tricks.  They have repeated these tasks over and over and have worked out tricks to making the job quicker and easier.   Amazing how much more you learn from this experience, hearing their tips, tricks and the ability to ask questions along the way.  Can’t do that from a book.  I still go to classes today.  I figure if I pick up just one good tip it was worth the time and money.

So my conclusion:

Tell me about it, and I may forget

Show me, and I will remember

Involve me, and I will understand and have the ability to repeat the task.

These are the elements that I consider when putting a class together.

Check out these photos of people having fun. 😉

 

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Mary
    03/04/2014 at 6:47 pm

    Hi Bec, thank you for post on the importance of doing cooking classes. I’m actually teaching cooking classes for the first time and would really value your advice. I don’t have any professional background in cooking and am a home cook. The company I’m working for knows this but they are trying to make me someone I’m not by getting me to sound “cheffy” by telling me how to refer to things rather than just be myself in how I want to refer to descriptions or methods to suit their clientele. Our opinions don’t always match either. I would really appreciate your thoughts. Should home cooks teach from their experience of being a home cook or “put on a show” to act more “cheffy”?

    • Reply
      Bec
      04/04/2014 at 10:10 am

      Hi Mary,

      What an interesting question, and an awkward situation you’ve been into. I can see the point of view from both sides. I totally agree that you need to be honest with your students and show them what you know, although on the other hand I can understand that your company wants to look as professional as possible.

      Can you teach from experience? Of course you can.

      I suppose what I’d suggest is that you make sure you know enough that your students go away inspired and enthusiastic to go home and copy what they’ve learnt. If the students that come to your class are up to date with cooking terms and you’re not, it might make your skill level look a little under qualified, even though they may not. I understand how you can be experienced if you have a love for food and work away in your own kitchen learning and mastering techniques.
      I love to cook, cooking is such wide and varied subject. I still join up to the occasional cooking class today. Sometimes I join up to others classes, just to see how they run them, and other times I want to learn a specific process.

      I love to learn from someone that’s had years of experience in a given area. I aim to teach my students using my years of experience. I think I’m doing the right thing so far because I get messages after every class, and they all say something similar. My students thank me for being warm and inviting but mainly teaching them my tips and tricks learnt from my years of experience.
      People are all different. Some will want hear chef terms, they use this to quickly evaluate your capabilities and others are happy just sit back and learn the process. Unless you have people walking out (I hope not) you’ve got the opportunity to show them your knowledge and techniques, proving you have the experience in the time you have them in your class.

      We have other teachers at my cooking school that aren’t chefs, I only have them on board if they know their subject professionally. If they can prove to me that they have the skills to show others with experience and knowledge of their chosen field I’m happy for them to join us. After all it’s my cooking school and reputation so I don’t want students going away feeling like they have wasted their time.

      Sorry, my answer is a long one but I hope it helps you Mary, and good luck with your job.

  • Reply
    Bec
    05/04/2014 at 9:25 am

    Hey Mary here’s another comment from one of the ladies that comes to my school.

    Lyn Harmsworth Bec as an attendee of many of your classes I have to say that I love the way you teach. “Cheffy words don’t work if the students do not know what they mean”. Mary be yourself because you are the one they chose to be taught by and most of all have fun! If they like you and what you teach they will come again. Good luck

Love to hear from you!