“This isn’t a cookery lesson, it’s a history lesson” warns Jeff, head teacher at The New Orleans School of Cooking just before launching into a demonstration that produces a perfectly formed Gumbo. “You can’t possibly expect to recreate a dish without understanding how it got here in the first place.”
What follows is not so much cuisine education, more a thoroughly entertaining afternoon taking us on a jaunt through New Orleans history, an introduction to Jeff’s colourful family members (none of them from New Orleans I might add) a rant about politics and the overuse of processed foods in America. That said, the end result was some delicious examples of Cajun and Creole dishes and a mouth-watering bread pudding, the staple dessert item you’ll find in just about every restaurant this side of the Mason-Dixie Line.
I have to confess I was initially slightly disappointed to find this was more a cookery demonstration than a lesson, but once Jeff kicked off, all my negative thoughts were banished as he took us though his recipes using a routine a stand up comedian would have been proud of.
Our class, almost 50 strong, gathered around communal tables below a kitchen bedecked stage over which a vast mirror reflected the magic that was happening inside the pans. Of course the icing on the cake so to speak, was a sampling of each course, and Jeff announcing the take home recipes we were given at the start, bore absolutely no resemblance to the dishes he was preparing, because he likes to do his cooking “differently” from the standard procedure. Actually, he was self deprecating and amusingly critical of the school’s bosses throughout the session, letting us all in on his naughty secret! Just another genius way of engaging your audience from start to finish.
So, just for the record, we enjoyed a traditional Gumbo, a Jambalaya, Bread Pudding and some Pralines to top it all off.
Naturally you end up buying all the ingredients in the New Orleans School of Cooking shop afterwards, but that’s just part of the fun.
This is great, tell me the details
The New Orleans School of Cooking Group demonstrations from $25 per person.