Westminster Kingways College – Cookery school

Posted on Thursday, 31st December 2009


A sample of my bread

Some of you might remember my blog posts about my NVQ Level 1 cookery classes at Westminster College from before the summer. I did go back to Cookery School after my big summer trip ended in September. In fact, I even started NVQ Level 2 at Westminster – a course which I am about one third of the way through. The only thing I didn’t do was keep up with my blog posts, something that I feel a wee bit bad about because there were occasionally some amusing tales to tell.

So I have decided to end the year, and the decade, by capturing some of the more memorable dishes and moments from the past few months of college. I always did enjoy sharing my cookery school stories with you, so it will be nice to end the year with a little note on one other cherished aspect of my foodie life.

Level 1:
Top of the list of things that I enjoyed making (and eating) the most were the baked goods and sweets. My breads turned out quite good. Surprisingly my brioche also worked, despite the fact that I had never made it before and I was predicting imminent disaster. I adored the day that we covered sweet pastry for my fruit flans turned out to be a dream. We also covered soufflés and chocolate fondants that day, the latter being bit as good as the ones you get in restaurants, even if I do say so myself. As you can imagine, I was sugar-rushing it all the way back home!

Fruit flan

Fruit flan

‘Crab day’ was also fantastic. We made soft shell crabs, crab cakes and dressed crabs from scratch. The latter was painstaking work although the end result was delicious. This class also left me with one particular lesson that I shall never forget. Chef decided to take us down the route of gender identification. In case you didn’t know, males are called ‘cocks’, and females are called ‘hens’. Someone from my class inadvertently asked which tasted better, the males or the females. Chef has a naughtly little sense of humour, so you can probaby guess the rest. The ‘innocent’ response, and I quote, was “cock meat”. Rest assured I was not the only girl in the class that was in fits of hysterics.

Soft shell crab

Soft shell crab

No less embarrassing, but for different reasons, was the day celebrity chef Paul Rankin judged a cooking competition in the kitchen next door. As fate would have it, he wandered into our kitchen as I was plating up my dish of lamb Milanese. The gods must have conspired against me as he asked to taste it, and of course it just happened to be under cooked – blue in fact. I could have kicked myself for I should have known better.

Lamb Milanese

Lamb Milanese

Level 2:
Level 2 has been every bit as enjoyable as Level 1, if not more so for the greater challenges that it offers. Chef can also be quite firm. One particular occasion stands out – the day he made us cut paysanne of vegetables for about two hours. He wasn’t particularly happy with our progress that day so he pretty much screamed blue murder at us. Who knew cutting vegetables could be so stressful? When all was over he told us that we might thank him one day. He’s probably right because I don’t think I shall ever forget what a paysanne cut should look like.

But I do truly love my Level 2 class. Yes Chef is very firm, but he’s also very inspirational, fair and enthusiastic about teaching us whatever we want to learn. Furthermore, he regulary encourages us to taste each others food and to provide feedback to the other students, something we didn’t really do in Level 1. Well, I must say I took to this like a duck to water! Food blogging sure put paid to this – waxing lyrical about food. Or maybe I am in denial about the fact that I am just happy with any opportunity where I get to taste! Amusingly, (and it’s something that I am now minorly proud of), I seemed to have earnt the knickname of ‘Jaws’ from Chef.

Thus caps of a pretty fantastic year of cooking. I met the last day of Level 1 with great sadness but I am grateful that I still have Level 2 to look forward to next year. So here’s to 2010. May we all cook and eat lots.

Happy new year! xx

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4 Responses to “Westminster Kingways College – Cookery school”

  1. Katrina Says...

    indeed, may we all cook and eat!

    (I like your ‘our teacher is firm’ hehe)

  2. Gourmet Chick Says...

    Your bread looks fantastic – very impressive! Good on you for doing the second part – you may have to turn professional soon…

  3. A Girl Has to Eat Says...

    Hey Gourmet Chick,
    thanks for the compliment. Professional…? I will need heaps more practise yet 🙂

  4. Trig Says...

    Bringing back memories! Happy New Year.