For Christmas, my thoughtful and generous partner, referred to in this blog as Al, purchased for me an eight week amateur chef course at the Kitchenware Plus store at Loganholme. This may be because he is expecting some outstanding food at the end of it but I suspect it’s more about encouraging my love of food.
The course, run by Chef Alison Taafe is conducted for three hours, one night a week, for eight weeks. Alison has great energy and a real sense of fun. It’s clear that she absolutely loves teaching people.
Alison won a Churchill Fellowship Award in 2004 which took her to America for two months to conduct research into culinary arts degree programs. She then set about writing and designing the first ever graduate program for chefs in Australia and won an Outstanding Educator Award in 2006 for the program. She also has two cookbooks; Fun Fast and Fabulous Food and Leftovers Magic. Both books brilliant for home cooks. Alison is also the founder of Eat for a Cure charity, inspired by her sisters battle with breast cancer. Her new book, encouraging healthy eating, Eat for your Life will be released in the coming months.
The course takes 12 participants. Everyone has their own workstation and we were each give a I.O.Shen chefs knife with a knife bag. It’s a serious knife, beautifully weighted, a little bit scary but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.
Thankfully, lesson one was all about using this knife. We were given potatoes, onions, celery, carrots and leeks and taught the correct chopping techniques. I think my chopping has always been reasonably good but now I know the correct way to Batonnet (little sticks), Allumette (matchsticks), Julienne (very fine long cuts) and Macedoine (small dice).
With 12 people cutting up so many veggies, Alison got to work making a quick veggie curry for our dinner. She served this with Bombay potatoes and onion jam and it was absolutely yummy. I’m looking forward to lesson two.