If you're a self-proclaimed foodie but don't have a dish to your name, you should probably rectify that soon. Digging into an impeccable restaurant dish is pretty darn good, but basking in the success of a homemade meal does wonders for your tastebuds and your ego. We've rounded up some of Sydney's best cooking classes, featuring all manner of ingredients from bread to seafood, cheese to cupcakes.
A household name for gourmet condiments and knick knacks, Simon Johnson purveys more than really good pasta sauce. Their "Talk Eat Drink" cooking school program is held in their custom-built kitchen in Alexandria. Past teaching luminaries have included Christine Manfield, Justin North and Manu Fidel. There are two more classes lined up this year; Francophiles take note of the seasonal French cooking class on November 13th, and burgeoning dinner hosts take a gander at the Christmas Entertaining class on November 20th. With a limit of 40 guests per class, be sure to get in early.
If you're not one to brave the queues for Sydney's best bakeries on weekend mornings, Brasserie Bread's artisan bread making course may just ensure that you never have to – the only thing better than freshly baked sourdough is freshly baked sourdough that comes out of your oven. Learn about mixing and hand-moulding, as well as the fermentation process that is vital for quality sourdough.
Anyone who's ever used a pre-made Old El Paso, rejoice! Mr. Moustache is providing a bona fide Mexican food masterclass. Modern technology and techniques begin to infiltrate traditional agricultural processes, consequently affecting the nature of Mexican cooking. Chef Leon Aguirre takes an in-depth approach to discussing the gastronomic revolution in Mexico – as one of the founders of the School of Gastronomy, History, Art and Culture in Mexico, he knows a thing or two. You'll walk out a seasoned tamale-maker.
If the idea of a hands-on cooking class appeals to you, but the cold, intimidating stainless steel of a foreign kitchen does not, Chef Up! may just be the answer to your prayers – they'll send a professional French chef straight to your kitchen for you and your mates to learn the tricks of the trade over a few glasses of wine. For those on a health kick, the Healthy & Tasty three-course menu will prepare an easy-to-learn meal for you and your mates. For the finicky over-achievers, there's the option to present your (probably complicated) dream recipe, and be guided so it actually turns out to be the masterpiece you envisioned before serving it up to your nearest and dearest. Looking for a team-bonding experience? The Chef Up! team also offer corporate cooking classes and team building so you can beat your colleagues at the art of the julienne.
BOURKE STREET BAKERY
If we had a penny every time we woke up craving crisp-shelled sourdough with fluffy interiors from Bourke Street Bakery… We'd probably have enough pennies to pay for a cooking class there. Baking novices and seasoned bread makers alike will find much to take on board, from Bourke Street Bakery's artisanal methods to their secret 12 year sourdough starter. Classes are organised for an intimate group of ten, so gather round some friends and embark on your pilgrimage to Sydney's bread mecca.
With the enormous range of workshops and classes on offer at Zigi's, you'll find something that caters to your particular skill set (or lack thereof). From mastering the intricacies of molecular gastronomy to expanding your repertoire of Mediterranean cuisine, gaining cheese-making skills to creating desserts with sous chef-worthy finesse, you're sure to walk out with a few more dinner party tricks.
THE CLASSIC CUPCAKE CO. ACADEMY
For the visually-inclined, The Classic Cupcake Co. Academy doesn't just teach you how to make cupcakes – you're basically making edible art. If you've ever stared at an intricately decorated cupcake and wondered how on Earth anyone anywhere could craft something edible with such intricate precision, it's time to step behind the scenes and suss it all out. Cupcake classes feature skilled buttercream piping techniques, but for cake lovers whose fingers aren't quite so nimble, there's a variety of Cake Pop classes that require less buttercream dexterity, but deliver just as much taste and visual impact.
SALT MEATS CHEESE
Stepping inside the gourmet food emporium that is Salt Meats Cheese is something of an overwhelming experience – shelves of the highest quality foods stretch into the (near) distance. The cooking class menu is an Italian food-lover's dream, with mozzarella-making classes, pasta and ravioli skills, and forays into particular regional cuisines. Meat-lovers rejoice at the burger workshops and the Meatballs and Brews class with Young Henry's for homemade passata and a delicious Young Henry's brew.
SYDNEY SEAFOOD SCHOOL
With a whooping 13,000 attendees per year, there's a reason guests keep flocking back to Sydney Seafood School. The structure of the classes is more interactive than most offerings you'll find – after watching the chefs demonstrate, participants are tasked with recreating the dishes, just so you know you'll actually be able to recreate them at home. If the past chef list is anything to go by, the future line ups look pretty bright – Guillaume Brahimi, Christine Manfield and Matt Moran have all taught classes before.
THE ZUMBO ACADEMY
Many a sugar addict has fawned over the delicate creations of Adriano Zumbo – now you can make like Sydney's most famous pastry chef with the generous selection of classes on offer at the Zumbo Academy. Each class focuses on a particular aspect of Zumbo's repertoire, from the beloved Zumbarons to the croquembouche, tarts to the immaculate gateaux de voyage. While it might take a while before you get your pastry as neat or your ganache as smooth as the confections in the display cabinets, you might as well unleash your inner patissier under the guidance of someone who really knows his stuff.
Image credit: Bread & Olives