This is, barebones what Dirty Apron Cooking School provides. But that definitely does not give this space justice. Walking through the doors, this is no ordinary cooking school that’s starkly white and silver. Nope, it’s rustic and welcoming with a long communal table. For their classes, they use the highest quality of ingredients and utensils.
Your magical apron that you pick up at the beginning of class to morph you into Canada’s Next Top Chef (for the 4 hours you’re there anyway) is heavy linen and yours to keep. You’re greeted with sparkling wine and supplied with bevvies throughout the entire evening. Every thing that I admire are the little, thoughtful details that Dirty Apron has down pat.
The kitchen area fits about 20 people – this evening there were 17 of us, but there was enough room between all of us. You share a station with another person – but you don’t necessarily have to work alongside anyone if you really don’t want to (unless you’re doing a couples course…then sorry, you’re out of luck!).
Our Chef this evening – Takashi or TK. Very knowledgable, gave us a lot of tips throughout the evening and also chatted about the state of the industry – prices going up for limes and even meat.
Your workstation, should you choose to accept, is meticulously laid out so that you have all your utensils ready to go (save spoons and cooking utensils which are found in the drawers behind you).
They also have portions pre-measured for you, so all you really have to do is prepare. Also the more lengthier items (like cooking rice) are taken care of. Um, can this happen more often at my place? Can I come home to a kitchen full of things just ready to be prepped?!
The format is you learn one dish – it gets demonstrated, then you go to your stations and create the same dish. Afterwards, you plate it and you go into the dining room and enjoy it with some refreshments. You then come back, tidy up your station and repeat.
Our class this evening was the Hawaiian class, which I took with my friend Jen. She was married in Maui (which was the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever been to), so it seemed quite fitting to take this course!
Our first course to prepare: the Ginger Soy Tuna Poke and Sesame Rice Cake. This was much easier than I expected it to be! I would have to say the most challenging part for me was plating the dish. I have to give chefs huge credit for making food look so palatable, it is definitely no easy feat.
The next dish we made was the Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi with Chilli Coconut Sauce, served with a Fennel and Papaya Salad. Again, I was really surprised how easy it was to make this dish. I’ve always been wary in making fish because I tend to overcook it – but now I know the secret: a meat thermometer.
I’m a little sad because I turned my back for a second to chop the vegetables for the salad and my sauce was completely caramelized and dark. I could’ve started over and make it again if I wanted to, but I tasted it and I didn’t mind it’s sweet and spicy taste.
To show you the difference and how burnt my sauce was – here’s Jen’s dish for comparison (above)!
Our last dish to make is the Berkshire Pork in a Pineapple Sake Sauce served with Crispy Taro Root and Bok Choy (not pictured). I had no idea that you could eat pork at medium until that evening. Most people don’t prefer it that way because we were brought up to believe that pork can harbour a lot of disease. But with the right quality cut, you can enjoy pork medium done. What I also learned during this – you should sear your pork before you cook it in the oven. It makes sense since I do this already with beef steaks, but I guess it never really hit me until now that I could do the same with pork. It is also mandatory to season your steak before searing and cooking – it really does make a difference in taste.
We seared the pork on it’s fatty side to render it and then seared on both sides. We popped it into the oven and got to work on the sauce. This time I did not burn my sauce!
By this time I was really full, so I packed up the pork for Brian to enjoy and enjoy he did!
Finally, Dirty Apron provided us with homemade Kahlua ice cream which was incredibly tasty and the perfect way to end the meal.
I had such a fantastic experience at the Dirty Apron, I know I will be back again soon for another course. If you’re feeling a little like you shouldn’t be going to this because you don’t think you have the skills to do it – you don’t have to worry! I survived this course and there were a couple of times I was worried I wouldn’t remember the recipe or how he did things, but they are there to support you to make one delicious meal to remember.
I would have to say that I feel so much more confident taking this course and it has really re-sparked my curiousity in cooking. I will definitely make these recipes again (and obviously will be sharing here on the blog)!
They also have a deli area which is perfect for lunch and a little culinary shopping – which I will be checking out real soon!