This Cookery School Is ACTUALLY Incredible!
The perfect place for a day out, a date with a difference or a team building exercise...and a must for masterchefs in the making
A new concept
It was a calm Friday evening in Jumeirah, the sun had set by the time we got to Culinary Boutique, located behind Mercato Mall in amongst a host of dental clinics, this purpose-built venue stands out with it’s glamorous two-storey construction. This new 3-in-1 venue consists of a gourmet cafe with a terrace, events space and culinary school. We were here for a cooking class, entitled ‘Provencal Dinner’ one of 100 different classes on offer (from knife usage to BBQ classes) for all levels of cooking abilities.
We were greeted at the door by Alex the matre’d, who firstly, took us through the gourmet café and its sophisticated interior, then up the stairs to the terrace and events section, walking past culinary legend Julia Child's quotes on the wall. The fixture's ambience changed as we entered the cooking class stations where we were first greeted by our chef for the evening, Chef Julius and his assistant.
A personal Masterchef session
Not knowing what to expect, we saw a white board with the day’s menu written up with a red marker, a bit like a cross-fit class would! The order of the day: Salmon En Croute, a baked salmon in puff pastry with vegetable filling, along with a courgette and lemon salad. All of which we would make over the next two hours. We were shown to our stations, the chef took up the third one and cooked with us.
To your stations please
We took to our stations, prepared the filling, chopped the vegetables, made the butter with garlic and herbs. Chef Julius cooked along with us, moving us over to the frying station to do the vegetables. We then got our hands covered in flour as we rolled the puff pastry, made on premises that morning, and laid on the salmon.
We then filled the salmon with the cooked veg, pasting it with the butter and then brushing mustard on top before, wrapping it in pastry. The salmon went in the oven for 22 minutes while we made the salad.
We made our own dressing, and thinly sliced yellow and green zucchini, creating layers before placing lettuce on top. Then we sat and enjoyed the fruits of our labour, salmon and pastry that fell away as soon as the fork touched it, vegetables so flavoursome and still tasted fresh after cooking . Of course it was all delicious...we had the perfect ingredients, the perfect teacher and we could taste the passion and hard work we'd put in!
- 200g salmon skinned
- Olive oil
- 15g unsalted butter, softened
- 2g lemon zest
- 8g basil leaves
- 2g dill
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6g wholegrain mustard
- 250g puff pastry
- Plain flour, to dust
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
Zucchini Carpaccio with Lemon and Olive Oil
- 190g Zucchini
- 10g Parmesan Cheese
- 8g Olive Oil
- 6g Lemon Juice
The star of the show - Chef Julius
Everything was conducted in a professional manner, there was no mess and no waste – they kept the core of the peppers to use as stock – but what struck us the most, was Chef’s passion throughout. He was there to create an experience for us. Here is what I learned from him:
On acquiring a passion for food
- He grew up in Nairobi and also on the Mombasa coast, watching the boats come in with fresh fish each day, a passion for food was born from an early age
- He remembers the day he had the nicest tomato he ever had in his life from a tomato farmer in Rwanda, he remembers the tastiest apple and orange’s too; 'those memories stay with a chef'
...On famous chef's
- Julius’ favourite chef is Gordon Ramsay which is why we were cooking a Salmon En Croute
- He also spoke passionately about René Redzepi from Denmark
...On Dubai restaurants
- Of Dubai restaurants, he will try Enigma when the buzz dies down
- He says you can find good curry joints in Satwa
...On travelling for food
- His favourite country is Peru, he simply loves Peruvian cuisine
- When he goes to different countries, he eats form the street to get the real culture
On the Ingredients
- Fresh ingredients with no compromise, Scottish Salmon, if it wasn’t available that day by the supplier, another salmon wouldn’t do, the menu would change
- The fish was purchased at the market at 6am, by the time 9am comes the best is gone, and it’s not worth purchasing
- They grow most of the herbs themselves, he did admit that dill in the UAE just doesn’t have the smell as elsewhere, it’s more like fennel here