Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Belfast Cookery School Experience


If you live in Northern Ireland you will most likely have heard of either the Mourne Seafood Bar or Belfast Cookery School. Having heard countless positive reviews about the cookery school we decided that we just had to try it for ourselves. We decided to opt for the ‘Steak Night’ in the cookery school schedule, being keen on ordering steaks when out in restaurants we liked the idea of being able to master cooking a steak at home for ourselves. So the date was set and we added it to our diaries!

Chef Shea Trainor giving a demonstration.
Before we talk about the actual cookery class we feel it is important to tell you a bit about the background of the Mourne Seafood Bar itself as this is in close association with the Belfast Cookery School. One of the key aspects of the Mourne Seafood Bar is that they pride themselves on locally sourced ingredients; in fact they have gone one massive step further! Their oysters’ mussels and cockles are cultivated in their very own shellfish beds in the nearby Carlingford Lough and any steak or chicken is all reared locally too. The Mourne Seafood Bar also loves to introduce its patrons to some lesser known local seafood such as gurnard, ling and John Dory, we think this is just fantastic. The Mourne Seafood Bar has two restaurants, one in the village of Dundrum at the foot of the wonderful Mourne Mountains and one in the heart of Belfast City Centre next to the cookery school. So if you’re passing by either why not pop in for a spot of lunch with a very local theme.
Now that you have a bit of background on the seafood bar we can introduce you to the cookery school itself. The cookery school was the very first purpose build cookery school in Belfast which allows you to book single classes based on what you want to learn. The school, like the seafood bar uses locally sourced ingredients from seafood to steak and chicken. The cookery school is open to all levels of experience from beginner to professional you’ll definitely pick up some top tips from the professional chefs of the Mourne Seafood Bar.

Classes at the cookery school are all taken by the professional and highly qualified chefs of the Mourne Seafood bar, Chef Wayne Carville, Chef Shea Trainor, Chef Andy Rea or Chef Franco Cutrona. For our class learning how to cook the perfect steak we had Chef Shea as our teacher. Upon arriving at the cookery class evening you are welcomed with a glass of wine as wait for your other fellow students to arrive, this gives the perfect opportunity to make acquaintances with the other people there to learn the same as yourself. Everyone is seated at two large communal tables which add to the relaxed feeling of the class. The chefs make it very clear that they do not want the evening to be stressful, it’s all about learning and fun and in our opinion you learn a lot more from a class if you are enjoying it. The cookery school has a specially designed portable workstation at the front of the classroom; here the chef will demonstrate the ingredients and method which you will use to create your very own gorgeous meal. The chefs are all very keen to demonstrate how the cookery school is at the forefront of the latest cookery technology. How can a cookery school use latest technology we hear you ask, well the cookery school uses some fascinating induction hobs. If you haven’t heard of these you’ll be wanting one in your kitchen after using them at the cookery school. Induction hobs are quite complex but work through magnetism and electrical resistance which causes the heat. It’s all quite technical but it means faster cooking a lot more energy efficient. The hob only heats in the area where the pot or pan makes contact so no wasted heat. The other magic trick which this type of hob performs is that as soon as the pot or pan is removed from the ring the process of electrical resistances ceases and the heat stops immediately meaning the ring is fairly cool to touch. Chef Shea demonstrated this in our class with a lot of ‘ooooh and ahhh’s’ from the gathered students. This makes this type of cooker a lot less likely to burn you accidentally. Each workstation is modern and well designed so everything you need to create your masterpiece is at your fingertips.

Thai Steak Salad
In the steak evening class which we attended, like all classes you make two courses. In this class we made a starter of Thai Steak Salad and a main of Sirloin Steak with Spicy Potato Wedges and Diane Sauce. First you will receive a demonstration at the front of the class and then pick a workstation for the evening. During the demonstration the chef will allow you to taste his finished dish which we found excellent in knowing how you wanted to tweak your own creation, a little more chilli, a little less etc. Here you will begin to create your wonderful meals under the guiding eye of the chef who walks throughout the class during the lesson; at no point do you feel out of your comfort zone. Once you make your starter you return to the dining tables and enjoy your meal with your fellow students and as if by magic your wine glass will be refilled, as every glass should be. Once everyone has finished their starter, there is never any rushing; you will be demonstrated on how to create the main meal. The process is exactly the same and you then sit down to enjoy your meal you have prepared yourself. You leave the class feeling accomplished in learning new skills and will undoubtedly want to show them off to your friends!

We highly recommend Belfast Cookery School whether it is for yourself or a group of friends; they even have a gift vouchers option, what a perfect surprise for someone! You can visit the Belfast Cookery School website here.

Chef Shea Trainor

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