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Master chefs: Pick up some expert tips by signing up for a local cookery class
Home cooks are increasingly looking to get creative in the kitchen without going so far as investing in chef’s whites or spending years sweating over a Michelin star-worthy velouté. Luckily there are plenty of food gurus out there willing to pass on their tips in accessible cooking classes that can be slotted in around work and family. Whether it’s individuals, groups of friends, or colleagues looking for a teambuilding exercise, there are various short courses for budding foodies to get their teeth into, in Brussels and beyond.
Searching for the secret of the ultimate tahini? Chef Simona El Harar’s classes focus on simple recipes of the Mediterranean, Middle East and Maghreb, and are held at her Ixelles restaurant. They also cover selecting the ideal ingredients and seasoning. The evening class includes wine-tasting and a sitdown meal to enjoy the fruits of your labour with your classmates. €70pp inc wine-tasting, 3 hours, English.
From Syria With Love
This Antwerp catering collective run by Syrian women has expanded into cooking workshops for up to 25 people – run from their premises or the client’s place – in which they recreate tastes from their homeland. Students can choose from several appetisers, dips, mains and desserts, including classics like mutabal, falafel, tabbouleh, and the popular Middle Eastern syrup-soaked treat knafeh. €35-€45pp not inc VAT or drinks, 3-4 hours, English (Arabic and some Dutch available).
Cuisine de Flore
Belgian favourites like tomates aux crevettes and waterzooi de poisson are found within the varied repertoire at this Ixelles atelier. French chef Flore learned her stuff at the Paris Ritz before launching a team that runs group workshops for eight to 14 people. Classes include whipping up three courses of Belgian, French, Italian or Asian plates, pastry cooking, meat and fish skills, and special sessions like gluten-free cooking or Christmas menus. €45-€70pp inc drinks, 4 hours, French with English translation.
With the aim of showing that vegan food isn’t boring and Turkish cuisine is “so much more than kebabs” Cigdem Sidney Ozdemircelik started holding vegan Turkish cooking workshops this year and is looking to make it bi-monthly in Brussels from autumn. Three-course meals, with Turkish tea, include dishes like stuffed artichokes or celeriac with quince. €30pp, 3.5 hours, in English
Both private and public classes are offered by Mmmmh!, which has partnered with Les Secrets du Chef’s four stores in Brussels and Wallonia. Private classes for groups of friends and family include four-course menu sessions and special topics such as macarons, chocolate and cupcakes. Corporate clients can organise team-building and competitive classes. These workshops can also be held at clients’ premises. Public classes range widely, from Caribbean or Thai cooking to sauce techniques or food-pairing tips. From €55, 2-4 hours, public courses in French (English usually understood), private courses in French or English.
Colruyt Group Academy
The Colruyt group of shops has a spin-off facility that trains staff and runs public courses at several sites in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia. It includes family-friendly sessions for children, such as easy Italian dishes. Classes range from lunchbox and picnic ideas to Japanese BBQs, and from Nordic, Thai, Middle Eastern, Greek, French and Spanish plates to coaching on vegan desserts or low-fat meals. €12-€35pp, 3 hours, French and Dutch
Chocolate & waffles
It wouldn’t be a discussion about cooking in Belgium without mentioning two of its staple addictions. Often tourist-orientated but a fun way to spend an hour or so, there are chocolate- and waffle-making workshops at a few places in Brussels, including the following.
- Zaabär, €35pp + VAT inc 20% discount in store, Saturday 14.30-15.30, English, French, Italian (over-5s welcome), 125 Chaussée de Charleroi, SaintGilles
- Laurent Gerbaud, €35pp inc 10% discount in store, Saturday 11.30-13.00, English, French, 2D Rue Ravenstein, Brussels
- Planète Chocolat, €50pp, 1.5 hours, English, French, 24 Rue du Lombard, Brussels
- Belgian Chocolate Workshop, €29-€35pp, 2.5 hours, English (over-12s only)
- Waffle Workshops include a walking tour from the Grand Place and all the waffles you can stuff down in 90 minutes. €18-€28pp, English (under-12s welcome), 30 Rue des Foulons, Brussels
This article first appeared in The Bulletin 2019