I love trying out new recipes in the kitchen and will always try and make time for cooking dinner rather than getting a take away (unless I come back from after work drinks when toast and peanut butter will do just fine!). When I’m abroad I want to eat all the food, but I also want to know how to make it back home and the cookery school we went to in Peru, Sky Kitchen, was my first foray into cookery classes. I’ve made lomo saltado a lot in the past two years, as has my boyfriend, thanks to that class!
When I was invited to try out the Jamie Oliver Cookery School in Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush I knew I’d be in for a treat and was super excited to learn some new skills!
The Jamie Oliver Cookery School
The Jamie Oliver Cookery School has cookery classes every day and covers a range of different cuisines. There’s Vietnamese street food, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, pasta making classes, knife skills classes and special classes for kids too.
I opted for the Vietnamese street food class (I’m really into Vietnamese food at the moment in case you couldn’t tell) where we’d learn how to cook a classic beef pho, prawn and vegetable summer rolls and pork balls alongside a zingy dipping sauce that went so well with the pork balls and summer rolls.
Jamie’s Cookery School is at the back of his Westfield’s restaurant and it’s much bigger than I thought it would be.
There are two separate areas which means two cookery classes can run at the same time. Both rooms have plenty of seating too for when you’re done cooking your food and ready to tuck in. The Westfield cookery school is quite new and the classroom kitchens are kitted out with induction hobs and stylish wooden cupboards.
Everyone in the class was treated to a glass of prosecco or elderflower cordial on Jamie and introduced to our chef for the evening.
The Vietnamese Cookery Class
After a quick health and safety chat, it was time to start watching how to cook our Vietnamese menu! First up; preparing our pork balls and prepping the ingredients for our dipping sauce and summer rolls.
Something I hadn’t thought of was adding honey to the meat to give it a bit of a sweeter taste although Chef warned us this meant the meat should be placed in cold oil, not hot, as honey burns extremely quickly – a handy tip for the future!
Demonstration over and it was our turn, trying not to cry as the scent of shallots filled the room… Although the smell of this was balanced with scent of lemongrass as everyone pounded it in their pestle and mortar.
Then it was time for the next step; the making of the summer rolls. I’ve got a pack of rice paper sitting in the back of my cupboard somewhere after a failed attempt to make spring rolls once. I’m still not quite sure why they failed so spectacularly, but I’m pleased to say these VIetnamese spring rolls worked out brilliantly! I think the two top tips: first make sure some of the rice paper is hanging off the edge of your surface so it can easily be lifted; and then roll once then tuck in the sides before rolling again, helped my rolls turn out well!
The pork balls were cooking away while we rolled and adjusted the taste of our dipping sauce to our own preference (a little bit more palm sugar in ours!).
We chopped our bak choi for our pho and topped it with the broth. Then, it was time for the best bit: eating!
The summer rolls, pork balls and dipping sauce were all very fresh tasting, the thing I love about Vietnamese. The beef tail in our pho, which we’d cooked only through pouring on the boiling broth, was very tender although I think the liquorice taste from the star anise in the pho itself was a bit too strong for me!
Thoughts on Jamie Oliver’s Vietnamese Cookery Class
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the cookery class. It was a great way to spend an evening midweek and learn something new in the process. Plus, it’s pretty rewarding eating some tasty dishes from a cuisine you’re unfamiliar with cooking!
The chefs at the cookery school were really welcoming too, and it’s a nice touch getting a glass of prosecco to kick off the evening. The only slight change I’d make would be to have smaller class sizes. There were over 20 of us in the one classroom and, whilst it didn’t feel cramped as each station was between two, I prefer a more intimate cookery class where you feel freer to ask the chef questions and get a bit more oversight into how you’re doing things.
Top tips learnt from Jamie Oliver’s Cookery School
- Press the fleshy bit under your thumb and this is what rare meat feels like. Then, touch your index finger and your thumb together and press the fleshy bit again to feel what rare meat feels like. Each finger represents more cooked meat so when you’re cooking meat you compare this to what the meat feels like and you no longer have to cut your meat open to check whether it’s done or not!
- Leave about a ⅓ of your rice paper roll flapping off of your surface. This way you don’t have to try and peel the paper off and risk ripping it
- If using sugar with meat (like the honey in our pork balls) don’t put the meat straight into hot oil as sugar burns very quickly!
Jamie Oliver Cookery School
Westfield Shopping Centre,
London W12 7GB