Over the last few months, parents have had to try a bit harder to get any sort of quality time together. Juggling kids, sharing a ‘workspace’ and a general lockdown can’t-be-bothered attitude, not to mention the steep but comfortable decline into permanent ‘leisurewear’ (all hail the elasticated waist) doesn’t exactly scream ‘romance’. Even now, as we inch back to normality, it’s likely to be a while for us to get back to easy, breezy nights out in York. When The Cookery School at The Grand offered for us to try out one of their virtual cookery classes as an alternative to a night out on the town or another boring night in front of a box set, we jumped at the chance.
We’ve tried out one of their in-person parent and child classes before (read our review here), but never their adult offerings, and never online. Since lockdown, the cookery school has been running virtual classes that you can cook along to from the comfort of your own kitchen (and yes, in your most comfortable clothes if you so wish). There’s a range of classes on offer, but we logged on to try out the Thai salmon and crispy salad one.
Unlike the in-person classes, where everything is prepped for you in advance and heaven-sent helpers whizz around the glossy cookery school kitchen whisking away your cut-offs and rubbish (oh how I wish we had one of those at home), the online courses do require a bit of planning. We were sent an ingredient list with the initial booking confirmation, giving us – in theory – plenty of time to source what we would need to create the dish. Life got in the way, however, so it ended up being a last-minute supermarket sweep at the shop at the end of our road. Water chestnuts, it turns out, aren’t a staple in our corner of York, so we were empty-handed on that front, and there were a couple of other ingredients that we had to substitute too. So we logged onto the Zoom hoping that our lack of planning hadn’t scuppered our supper. It turns out we needn’t have worried.
Head chef Andrew Dixon led the class and, after a warm welcome and brief explanation of what we’d be doing and what the equipment we’d need, we were off. Andrew led us step-by-step through making each aspect of the meal, with a little light teaching along the way: we learnt the best way to slice a pepper and the difference between the various noodles. On the whole, we managed to keep up with him, although one of us did have to pop out to the shop at one point and we also had to try to revive a broken blender halfway through. Andrew gave handy tips for substituting ingredients (phew!) and was full of ideas for how we could change-up the dish if we wanted to. Although there were a few different households joining in, it almost felt like a private lesson and we were able to ask questions whenever we weren’t sure about something. Our kids thought it was hilarious to watch us flapping about in the kitchen and are keen to have a go at a class themselves, whether online or in the calmer and more sumptuous surroundings of the Cookery School itself.
In spite of our culinary hiccups along the way, and with a glass of wine to help things along, we ended up with a colourful and extremely tasty salad to dive into for dinner. We really enjoyed the experience, and it was lovely to do something different without having to leave the house or book a babysitter. The fact that we had something delicious to show for our efforts was a bonus, and it was healthy too – no elasticated waist required.