I was a little apprehensive about tackling a Mexican cookery class because although I love eating Mexican food, I haven’t had much experience of cooking it. However, I forced myself out of my comfort zone to brave the challenge of baring my ignorance in front of 11 complete strangers.
As soon as I arrived, my mood instantly lifted. Not only did I find parking without too much difficulty but the apartment where the class was held was light and airy with fabulous views. Vibrant music wound its way through the room around the large wooden table and counter where most of the action would be taking place and a bottle of wine stood, cap off, at the ready for those of us who needed a little liquid encouragement.
All of the novices wore chef’s hats with our names written on them which made us feel familiar and comfortable with each other from the start. Victor introduced himself and also his colleague and friend Tawnya and then gave us an illuminating talk on Mexican food, his extensive experiences of cooking with it and eating it here, and more particularly in Mexico and the States. We were also given various different Mexican ingredients to try with information on where we could purchase them. This information was also written down on a fact sheet to take home. Finally he gave us a brief and extremely helpful lesson in knife skills.
We were then split into two groups; six of us led by Victor and the other six by Tawnya and shared the task between us of creating the different recipes that Victor had put together for our class that day. We worked steadily, both individually and as teams, helping each other with chopping and cutting, taking turns to wash bowls and swapping culinary confessions all the while.
Some of us were noticeably more experienced cooks than others but we all seemed to recognise our strengths and work towards the common goal – of getting the food ready in time to be able to sit down and eat it in a relaxed and orderly fashion.
The end result was amazing. It was a bonding experience to sit down with people I barely knew and enjoy a hearty and delicious meal together which we had all contributed to in one way or another.
Victor and Tawnya are both very talented chefs, and patient and gifted teachers who really know their subject matter well. Victor brings a tremendous passion, vibrancy and inspiration to the class and shows a real interest in the cooking and eating habits of his pupils while Tawnya projects a steady good humour and great sense of fun and provides a calming influence (along with the wine) for any frayed nerves.
I learnt some very useful information at the class as well as meeting interesting new people. I can definitely recreate some, though not all, of the dishes we cooked and I have a far better overview of the Mexican cuisine and its many varied ingredients. I would highly recommend this class and would definitely sign up for another one.