(92-94 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3QB)
It is no secret amongst my friends and family that I am a major foodie – I love to cook. From the traditional to the experimental, no recipe is off limits and I most enjoy learning how to be better in the kitchen; like many with a passion for food I aspire to ‘chef’ standards (although admittedly I tend to come closer to ‘decent home cook’).
So you can imagine my utter delight when for a close friend’s hen party, rather than wear a tutu and wave inflatable cocks around, we headed for a cooking lesson at Recipease in Notting Hill. Food, champers, cooking and the company of some really lovely girls – what’s not to love?
Owned by Jamie Oliver, Recipease is one of the latest additions in his attempt to become the high-street's quality food don. With an indie deli feel, as you might expect the place is packed to the rafters with merchandise. What is more surprising was the stock of lovely deli delights. Puddings, artisan breads and bakes all give the two story town building warmth and make you hungry before you get close to cooking.
After finding our host, we were seated at a bar type table at the back of the room with a very generous stack of bread and oil, a salad and a glass of vino to get us going. There was no stream of interruptions from overeager waiting staff (a pet hate of mine), we were just left to chat and get comfortable for 15 minutes whilst our demonstration was set up. Very relaxing indeed.
My first ‘lesson’ of the night came when our chef invited us to the centre island to learn. She looked about twelve and my arrogant little heart sank – how could this girl who barely looked old enough to use a knife and fork possibly teach us something new about food. My assumption was this was going to be cooking by numbers and this girl probably did this job at a weekend while doing her a-levels.
There is a reason that the old cliché ‘assumptions make an ass of you and me’ hold so true and in this instance I rapidly realised that I needed to get my head out of my ass and remember that Jamie, whatever your opinion of him might be, is a big advocate for the education of young people and was himself a successful chef at a very young age. Young this lady may have been, inexperienced she was not.
Within ten minutes of getting cracking on our Green Thai Chicken I had learned some fascinating titbits about herbs, the best way to use the pestle and mortar I normally reserve for cracking pepper and some excellent advise about storing food. Her presentation and knowledge was confident, articulate and well carried out.
We each took our stations and got cracking with our meal. A few little hitches occurred but we had excellent, professional equipment and ample amounts of ingredients ready. Our tutor was (perhaps slightly too) on top of all of us and got round to check we were all progressing well. In no time at all we had delicious, healthy and home-made Thai Greens ready to munch on and were allowed to sit back at our bar (where a little more wine would have been nice).
If I had any complaints it was that we perhaps didn’t have enough time to get the recipe done ourselves – things move at a very quick pace. I felt that perhaps by simplifying what we had to do (we had to create a tomato and lime salsa to go with the food that just didn’t match the dish – apparently this was to pack in the health qualities but it just made it too much), we could have had just a little more time to concentrate on doing the dishes ourselves.
It is also a strange experience to have people milling around you whilst you work and eat, but for me that adds to quite a lovely community feel.
Overall I would definitely recommend Recipease. If you have a group of people and you are not sure how they are going to get on or if you have a Saturday afternoon with the girls planned and fancy something a bit different to the usual spa or shopping, it is a wonderful bonding experience. The environment is warm, the tutoring very interesting and all in all we had a thoroughly lovely time.
To learn more about Recipease and book a class visit the website here. Prices start at £30 per person.