Can’t cook, won’t cook? Learn in Cardiff

Posted on December 10, 2009


Christmas is coming, which of course means that food is coming – and plenty of it. But what if you can’t cook? Aimee Steen finds out where you can brush up on your culinary skills in Cardiff, and do it a little differently.
 There are lots of cookery classes in Cardiff, and they span a huge variety of tastes. Whether you’re looking for fine dining prowess or to expand your cultural boundaries, there are some very interesting places in the city to cater for everybody’s culinary requirements. 
Fine dining and finesse

Fine cookery skills are on the menu with Angela

For those looking for a little refinement, one option is cookery classes by Angela Gray, top Welsh celebrity chef and food writer. Classes take place in the picturesque surroundings of Fonmon Castle and Slebech Park, with a strong emphasis on using fresh produce.

Hear Angela talk about the different cookery classes she offers.

“We will be using the produce and ingredients as fresh as picking it from the garden…in two of the venues they’ve got really beautiful gardens which are planted up with seasonal produce, so people can go and pick part of what they use,” says Angela. “You can’t get any fresher than that, can you?”

The range of workshops cost £60-£135, with options including:

  • Let’s Do Lunch – These classes see the chef cook a selection of tasty seasonal dishes, from Tuscan bean soup to Ithica pie.
  • Absolute Beginners – These workshops mean getting stuck in, with beginners classes on meat, fish, baking and even knife skills.
  • Putting on the Ritz – Participants learn the skills of putting on a delightful dinner party, including some of Angela’s exclusive culinary secrets to success.

Cultural creations

Uma Sims teaches how to cook Indian and Chinese delicacies

For a taste of a different culture, Uma Sims of Cardamom Queen runs Indian and Chinese cookery classes throughout Cardiff. Originally from India, Uma is entirely self-taught. Classes are either run as adult education courses or in the student’s own home, and participants are encouraged to take a sensory approach to cooking.

Hear Uma Sims discuss what’s important to her when teaching cookery.

“A feature of my way of teaching is that you don’t taste,” says Uma. “I get people to have a look and to smell how it’s going, and to judge based on their senses – on all senses, not just their sense of taste – how it’s progressing. There are many layers of stage of flavour for each dish.”

A spicy vegetarian Chana dish

Quality and fresh produce is also important in Uma’s lessons. She only uses Welsh lamb, organic potatoes and British chicken, and buys spices from Indian suppliers in the city. “I’m very, very finicky about quality,” explains Uma. “I promise that I will be teaching and serving up food that I would be happy to serve myfamily.”

The cost varies according to the type of class, with three options available:

  • Evening and day classes in adult education – Uma is one of the cookery tutors for classes run at three venues. Courses typically run from 10-30 weeks and cost around £50 per term.
  • Cookery parties – for a more informal feel, Uma offers group teaching of a select menu or to bespoke requirements. Prices start at £23 per head for a minimum of four people.
  • One-to-one – individual classes are available at £25 per hour, with 2-3 hours needed to learn several dishes.
See our attempt at a simple Indian recipe.


Family favourites

Learning is fun with Peppercorn

Or, for wholesome home cooking, Peppercorn Cookery offers small-scale cooking run by Michelle Cooper. She cites the direct attention given to her students as what makes her classes special, with students picking up skills well in an intimate environment.

Hear Michelle Cooper talk about what she offers in Peppercorn Cookery classes.

Classes cover a selection of styles and needs, from making fresh pasta to how to cook meat properly. Demographic-specific classes are popular at Peppercorn, with those tailored for children and students a big hit.

“The children are just absolutely amazed at what they’ve done and they can’t believe it,” says Michelle. “Students, they’re surprised that they can actually do so much!”

She places a lot of emphasis on making sure that participants feel comfortable and enjoy the cooking experience, with a number of people subsequently returning for further classes with her. “By the time they’ve actually realised what we’re going to do through the class, they sort of relax a bit,” she explains. “By the time they get to the end, it’s really nice to see how confident they’ve become and how enthusiastic they are.”

Prices start at £40 and can be tailored to requirements, but set lessons include:

  • Christmas and Celebrations – Especially for the festive season, Michelle teaches how to make the perfect roasties or some special canapés to impress the guests.
  • Children’s Cookery Classes – For children aged 6-12, healthy eating and fresh food are on the menu for kids who like to cook.
  • Vegetarian Connection – A selection of meat-free delights are taught, using fresh produce and delicious pulses, with exciting new ideas along with the basics.

There really is something for everybody when it comes to cooking in Cardiff – it’s just a case of knowing where to find it. Whatever your budget or culinary needs, there are classes out there, and you might just be able to increase your cooking capabilities for this time next year.

· Angela Gray:
· Uma Sims: 745290
· Michelle Cooper: 2075 44 50
Posted in: cuisine