We get in the kitchen at Nobu, Bice Mare, Table 9 and more
Bice Mare Masterclass We are each given our own cooking station (complete with views of the Burj Khalifa) before Chef Francesco begins to talk us through the process of making fresh pasta and sharing his secrets to preparing ‘the perfect Italian dish’ – from classic spaghetti to bow pasta, tagliatelle and ravioli. His enchanting Italian accent makes the experience feel all the more authentic, and we are pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to make fresh pasta from scratch. We also learn how to store it, as well as the history of pasta from different parts of Italy.
Functionality: 3/5 Fun: 4/5 Skill requirement: A modicum of skill is involved to prepare and stretch the pasta, but beginners will feel right at home. Adam Wilson. Dhs550 (includes the class and a three-course lunch). First Monday of every month. Souk Al Bahar (04 423 0982).
Cut, Chop, Cook at Table 9 by Scott and Nick Table 9 offers five different classes simply titled ‘Bread’, ‘Chicken’, ‘Pasta’, ‘Fish’, and ‘Chocolate’. We would be experiencing the joys of ‘Bread’. The kneading process proves trickier than we first imagined (Scott made it look all too easy), and while some participants quickly got the hang of slapping the dough onto the table and flicking it over on itself to capture the air, others (naming no names – Oliver Robinson, Time Out Eating Out Editor) found the technique particularly difficult. Scott and Nick are patient, personable men (not to mention great teachers), but they’re hard task masters – participants are only allowed to move to the next step once they mastered the one before. As Scott says, the class is pointless if you can’t go home and do it yourself. As the bread is baking, Nick hauls us into the kitchen to make an onion soup – a simple, delicious accompaniment to the bread, which also holds a few surprises; we learn everything from simple onion-cutting techniques, to the benefit of cling-wrapping the top of the pot to help roast the onions, garlic, rosemary and thyme.
Functionality: 5/5 Fun: 4/5 Skill requirement: Minus one (Happily, Scott and Nick don’t take after their mentor, Gordon Ramsay, and are very patient). Oliver Robinson. Dhs495 per four-hour class; Dhs2,000 for a package of all five on offer. Fridays, 9am-2pm (groups of four to six people can also book any day from Sunday to Friday). Hilton Dubai Creek (04 227 7551).
Nobu Masterclass Our class is small, with just four others, and soon after we sign our waivers we are ushered to the sushi counter for the first part of our lesson. While it’s easy enough to get the basics right (roll, spread on to the seaweed sheet and then shape with the help of a bamboo mat), we find it quite tricky to get the amount of rice exactly right, which means our rolls end up looking rather fat. Afterwards, Chef de Cuisine Hervé Courtot shows us how to make Nobu’s signature black cod with miso – everything from preparing the special miso sauce through to marinating techniques (ideally, the fish is left to soak in the miso juice for three days) and how long to grill it for. For the last instalment of the lesson, we learn how to make a delicious, layered dessert that involves a coffee-infused crème brûlée base with ice cream topped with foam. After our not-so-hard work in the kitchen, we are invited to enjoy an elaborate lunch that (thankfully?) doesn’t involve anything that we’ve prepared.
Functionality: 3/5 Fun: 5/5 Skill requirement: None (as long as you know how to stir, you’ll be fine). Vineetha Menon. Dhs1,250 (cooking lesson, three-course lunch with a glass of bubbly, and a Nobu apron). First Sunday of every month, 11am to 2pm. Booking essential. (04 426 0760, 04 426 0761).
YO! Sushi Rice & Rolls After donning our aprons and (slightly embarrassing) hairnets, we’re shown how to properly slice up a huge salmon into sashimi. Our instructor then passes on the secret to cooking perfect sushi rice before expertly showing me how to roll the perfect maki, nigiri hand rolls and ‘Inside Out Rolls’. The most useful bit of information has to be how to de-bone and slice salmon: valuable advice for any amateur seafood chef. Indeed, sushi-lovers will pack their lunchboxes again and again with these easy-to-make treats. For the rest, this is a fun novelty class they may revisit every now and again.
Functionality: 4/5 Fun: 3/5 Skill requirement: None – this really is sushi 101. Jamie Goodwin. Dhs150 per person. Class times vary according to demand. Bookings can be made at any Yo! Sushi outlet in Dubai. Yo! Sushi, DIFC (04 363 7404).
Benihana Cooking Class The jolly folk at Benihana share the secrets of sushi, sashimi and other delectable Japanese treats. Dhs199. Saturday April 21, 10am-noon. Al Bustan Rotana Dubai (04 282 0000).
The Cooking School A variety of classes such as Indian, bakery, Thai and sushi classes are on offer at Balance Café in Oasis Centre. Sessions teach students how to prepare a selection of dishes over the course of the class, whether it’s a four-course meal, or cookies and sponge cake. Dhs250 (per class); Dhs850 (for four classes). Daily 10am, noon, 2pm (advance booking required). The Cooking School, Balance Café, Oasis Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 515 4051).
Master Class at the Park Chef de cuisine at The Thai Kitchen, Chef Supattra Boonsarang, regularly holds master classes, which, according to organisers, are ‘ideal as birthday or anniversary presents, or as a gift for a food enthusiast’. And anyone partial to Thai food, we imagine. The setting for this class (in a rather fetching open kitchen) is one of the best in Dubai. Dhs350 (non-alcoholic package), Dhs525 (includes one glass of bubbly). Sat and Sun (weekday classes can be arranged on request). Noon-3pm. Park Hyatt Dubai (04 602 1234).
Blue Elephant Weekend Cooking Classes This old-school Thai restaurant takes place on the first Saturday of every month. Not only do participants learn how to whip up Thai classics, but they get a souvenir pack and a certificate to show anyone who questions their cooking prowess. Dhs199. Saturday April 7, 10am-noon. Al Bustan Rotana Dubai (04 282 0000).
More Cooking Skills Dubai stalwart More Café runs two ‘fun interactive’ cooking classes a month (one mid-week and one on the weekend), which teach basic skills for budding enthusiasts. The package also includes lunch, apron, goodie-bag, tea and coffee. Dhs200. Call 04 263 3113, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.morecafe.biz to find out dates.