Australian Financial Review

A dash of celebrity
Luxury cooking classes cater for those wanting to be a master chef at home, writes Michael Bailey.

Everybody dreams of being a rock star (don\'t they?) and since chefs are the new rock stars, its little wonder luxury cooking schools are opening up around Australia. At Lake House in Daylesford, foodies can now make the 80-minute drive from Melbourne to learn everything from sourdough making and fermentation, to hands-on butchery classes with the local pig farmer. Yet ifs not just those wanting to emulate \"the latest flash in the pan with his tattoos\" that convinced Lake House\'s founder and owner, Alla Wolf-Tasker, to start running regular cooking classes this year. \'People are reconnecting with where their food comes from and how it’s prepared for table, because they\'re realising what we\'ve lost hi terms of diversity,\" she says. \'The assumption was that everyone wanted produce to be cheap and available all year round. But the farmers\' market is coming back because there\'s a movement now who don\'t want the only things that get grown to be the things that will store. They want their veges with the dew still on them, and they want to know how to do them justice in their own kitchen.\" Half the fun of taking a relish-making class is for these like-minded people to meet each other, Wolf-Tasker says. A dash of celebrity never hurts, of course. Household names like MasterChef alumni Peter Gilmore and George Calombaris have taught at Lake House in the past, and the tradition continues with the Autumn Masterclass coming up on May 4. The chef demonstrators include Philippe Mouchell from PM24 in Melbourne and Karl Firla from Oscillate Wildly in Sydney. Elsewhere, the \"natural probiotics\" of fermentation will be relayed by one of Lake

House\'s neighbours, Sharon Flynn from The Fermentery at Woodend. More pickles and pastas might be getting made from scratch these days, but that hasn\'t stopped the population eating out in record numbers. Counterintuitive as it might seem, the more restaurants you experience the more likely you are to sign up for cooking closet; says Martin Teplitzky at the Take 2 Eggs cooking school on Sydney\'s north shore. \"People are experiencing more types of cuisine and watching more cookery programs on television. It is giving them the curiosity and confidence to want to try things at home.\" Teplitzky\'s pedigree is in cooking Instruction. His mother, Gretta Anna, was a well-respected cookery teacher from the 1960s through to the 1980s, as well as a recipe book author remembered for such innovations as the \'Mile High Pavlova\'. Teplitzky ran the iconic Berowra Waters Inn for four years in the 1990s, before spending a long stint in the UK which included lecturing at London\'s famed Leith\'s School of Food and Wine. After his mother passed away in 2010, he decided to honour her memory by reopening the school she ran for many years from his childhood home, a Harry Seidler-designed house on Clissold Street Wahroonga (Seidler reluctantly added the wing incorporating the cooking school after initially insisting his original plans were perfect). Take 2 Eggs opened last March, with its flagship being a six-week masterclass which Teplitzky limits to Just six students \"It\'s really hands-on and to teach people successfully you have to be able to get around to them all,\" he says.

Insisting that he can work with you no matter your existing skill level, Teplitzky’s course covers everything from knife skills to preparing shellfish, with a two week section on butchery included. \"Butchery is really a lost art,\" laments Ma Wolf-Tasker of Lake House, whose cooking school will also showcase the discipline. \"So many people calling themselves butchers now are just people who\'ve bought a shop and had a quick lesson in cutting a few chops,\" she says. \"Ask them to tunnel bone a leg without cutting into the muscles and you\'ve got problems. We want to remind people that this stuff is important for what your meat ends up tasting like.\" While celebrity chefs have in truth been around for a while - you could argue Gretta Ann Teplitzky embodied the term back in the L960s - the butchers, bakers and producers who supply them will be the next group to gain fame and inspire home cooks, thinks Sarah Hancock of the Spring Food & Wine restaurant and cooking school in Brisbane\'s CBD.

Her classes \"take people back - or is it forward? -to a time where Aussie farmers are truly celebrated\", she says. Dakota Vale chicken farm at Gympie is an example of farmers who -know all there is to know about the lifecycle of a chicken; they get given a great life, come to a cooking class and you\'ll start to care more about that\". Many cooking schools hold a combination of \'demonstration and \'hands on\' classes, but Hancock thinks only the latter is worthwhile \"With so much cooking in the media now, people get enough demonstration. We find that even if they didn\'t realise it coming in, they really want to have a tactile experience.\" A good tablespoon of entertainment thrown in with the education is a must for any good cooking school, says Martin Teplitzky at Take 2 Eggs. \"Half the point is getting to taste what you\'ve just done, with a nice glass of wine, to develop your palate\" he says. \"Learning to cook is not meant to be a chore\" L&L.

In the kitchen:

Lake House Alla Wolf-Tasker, Daylesford, Victoria

Take 2 Eggs Martin Teplitzky\'s cooking school, Wahroonga, Sydney

Spring Food & Wine restaurant Sarah Hancock, Brisbane CBD


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Financial Review March 2014