After threatening to go on a cooking course about a year and a half ago, I only recently got my A into G and attended one. I selected Sense of Taste because I attended a promotional event there (as I did at the Giggling Gourmet cooking school previously). I was impressed with the congeniality of the chef and his assistants and I liked that they were happy to answer any questions even if they were off topic. So I signed up with a bunch of friends and I now have one cooking course under the belt (along with some tasty food).
The Sense of Taste kitchen where the classes were held is the same kitchen they use for catering so it is well stocked. We each had our own workstation for preparing ingredients and we shared the two gas stoves (several rings per stove, don’t worry). The first lesson introduced us to correct knife handling techniques and chopping styles. After learning how to cut up a chicken correctly, we made a chicken dish (breast stuffed with spinach and feta, then steamed in a spinach leaf and wrapped in latticed puff pastry) which we all ate afterwards. That first lesson we were introduced to the Windhoek beer tap. All drinks are included in the course, for those that could resist the ice cold Windhoek, there was wine, spirits or even cooldrinks. We also learnt the first stages of making a proper beef stock. That is quite a mission (8 hour cooking time), but unbeatable flavour.
The kitchen can support about 20 people, we had about 15 on our course. A good mix of people which made for fun evenings. Nobody was stabbed and nobody cried (a first for me), although we did have one drop out. Was it something we said, Mandy? The second lesson was seafood. We made seafood risotto, calamari (cleaning them is gross), prawns and oysters. We were also treated to a cheese presentation by an artisinal cheese maker which was very interesting (and tasty). By this stage my cooking partner, Carmen, was starting to be a partner instead of just looking after herself the whole time (chicks!).
Peter, the chef, kindly offered to send my knives off for sharpening because although they are good knives, a year without sharpening had left them dull. I’m still excited every time I use them. Cooking without sharp, good quality knives is almost not worth the effort (knives are provided on the course – you don’t have to take your own unless you would like to). The third lesson was all about pasta and sauces. I almost forgot, on the first night we also learnt to make bechamel sauce properly. On the pasta night we were taught how to make a Napoletana sauce, which can then be used as a base for arrabiata (add cream and chilli), bolognaise (add mince), etc. We also made a puttanesca, which was very tasty. We learnt to make gnocci and risotto and were given the details of a place where we could buy fresh pasta because it’s just not worth the effort to make it.
The last lesson started off with a representative from the wine industry presenting some wines which we also tasted and discussed what foods we would pair them with. In the last lesson we learned to make a beef fillet with mushroom mousse and blanched vegetables (went well with the bordeaux blend). We were taught all about blanching veggies earlier in the course, not sure which lesson. The steak was accompanied by a very tasty and well presented potato bake. After that we were shown how to make sushi. Maki and inside out rolls and I had a go at making a salmon rose. It turned out ok, just very big. Then that was that, there were no more Tuesday evenings to look forward to. We had to walk away from the Windhoek tap and not look back. Actually, we might see the tap again as there is an advanced course in January and judging by the feedback from my group, we’ll all be there.
The course was really good value for money (R1600 = 4x Tues evenings, 6:30pm to 10:30pm). If you look at the price compared to any other cooking course on offer in Cape Town it is very competitive and having the drinks included puts it way ahead of the rest. We also received a Sense of Taste apron and notes/recipes from all four lessons. But above all, we had 4 fun filled evenings in which we learnt a lot about food and about cooking. I’d recommend this course to anyone without any hesitation.
The photos in this review were taken by my friend Grant, you can see more of his work here and you can see the photos I took in my gallery here.
To see a list of the various cooking courses available in Cape Town, click here.
Sense of Taste
Coronation Court, Coronation Street, Maitland
021 511 0426
www.senseoftaste.co.za – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hear hear! I can back Dax up on his recommendaton, definately a great way to spend 4x tuesday nights… The R400 per session seemed a bit daunting at first, but we ate like kings and drank like thirsty racing fish, so the cost was almost like eating out for 4 nights with a free cooking course thrown in!
Hey there Dax,
Nothing you said…. ha ha… just as Debs and Peter know this is silly season for my industry and was busy with Volvo ocean race so working long hours and couldnt make the rest of the classes, but will be going back after season as the first class was lots of fun!! Sorry to have missed the others!
Well, it’s a relief to hear it wasn’t me. That’s going to save me a fortune in psychotherapy. Sorry you couldn’t carry on with us, but we managed to have fun without you.
Am 3 weeks into the 4-week course and can’t recommend it enough! Am having the time of my life and quite sad that it has to end next Tuesday… The course is incredible value for money and really good fun. Thanks Dax for posting the review which inspired this memorable experience!
I attended another cooking class at Sense of Taste last week. It was a curry evening and I learnt a lot and had a fantastic evening again.
They have expanded and can now take bigger groups.
I also heard someone I know used Sense of Taste to cater a function and were very impressed.
I enquired about vegetarian cooking courses, and they said if they have enough requests, they will offer a veg cooking course. Email email@example.com.
It’s about time vegetarians didn’t have to join a cooking course that just had “elements” of vegetarian dishes! Surely there must be a market??
My partner and I attended the Sense of Taste vegetarian cooking course last week, and what a lot of fun that was! We were on a high when we left.
Very friendly, very welcoming. Free wine throughout the evening made for a very jovial evening. The chef, Peter, is very knowledgeable, and very generous with sharing his knowledge — never a moment when I felt I was asking too many questions, and all questions were dealt with graciously, no-one ever had to feel stupid. The staff were incredible, made our evening a really lovely experience.
However… we ate far too much! By the end of the evening I had to pack our dishes as take-aways cos I couldn’t fit another thing in.
But herein is an issue I did have: we made too many courses at a superficial level. For every course, part of the ingredients had been prepared in advance. The bunny chow rolls had been mixed and baked for us. The laksa paste and broth had been done for us. The polenta, mixed and baked, the tomato sauce cooked in advance. So, while I did gain good skills (like how to chop an onion in no time at all), I felt I didn’t quite learn a whole dish in its entirety. And I would dearly have loved to have learned how to make vegetarian laksa without the shrimp and fish sauce. I came away feeling like I just learned to saute different veggies, and that I do enough on a regular basis.
The chef said a huge amount of preparation had gone into our evening — his staff had prepared all our ingredients. I really do appreciate all their hard work, but I would suggest not doing anything for us, and limiting our evening to cooking one main dish from start to finish, and one dessert.
As for the desserts — WOW!!! They had a pastry chef from Vanilla Haus come in and demonstrate and give really handy tips (also very generous with her knowledge), and the desserts were out of this world. No, we didn’t make any.
I would definitely recommend Sense of Taste for a fantastic evening out — I can imagine having a party or team building there, they really go all out to making your experience wonderful.