In a fast-paced city such as Dubai, it can be hard to find the time to cook yourself a meal (at least, that’s our excuse). Yet we still find time to visit brunches, bars and engage in countless other activities outside the kitchen.
As much as Dubai’s top restaurants want our custom, they’re also actively encouraging us to boost our culinary skills by offering classes that cater for both kitchen virgins and veterans. In an attempt to eat more healthily, spend less money on takeaways and impress our friends in the run-up to Christmas, we’ve rounded up a few of the options.
Best for: beginners
Two courses with Chef Nicolas Valero at Media One Hotel
Media One is perhaps best known for its heady pool parties, ladies’ nights and drinks promotions. But the hip Media City hotel is now offering wannabe chefs the chance to whip up a storm in the kitchen, courtesy of Chef Nicolas Valero. The lessons are aimed at beginners, with Frenchman Nicolas sharing a few of his home country’s culinary secrets with students. However, he’s the first to admit that this is very much a social occasion, which is as much about eating and drinking as it is the cooking.
When? Classes are scheduled on request.
How much? Individual classes are Dhs295 each, but those more serious about their culinary development can commit to a full course of five sessions for Dhs1,250.
Where? The Med, Media One, Dubai Media City (04 427 1000).
Best for: men
Barbecue with Chef Norberto Palacios at The Palace
When it comes to barbecues, men usually think they know best. In reality, however, there’s more to a good barbecue than occasionally flipping burgers, swilling hop-based beverages and talking sport – something that you’ll learn from Asado head chef Norberto Palacios. While most cooking classes are confined to the kitchen and dining room, Chef Noberto’s barbecue masterclasses take place out by the pool. Here, the Argentinian chef will talk you through every aspect of the barbecue, from the wood or charcoal you use to choosing the best marinades and how to cook meat, seafood and vegetables. Even men might find themselves learning something.
When? One class per month (call to check which day), 11am-1.30pm.
How much? Dhs295, which includes lunch and recipes.
Where? Poolside, The Palace, firstname.lastname@example.org (04 428 7871).
Best for: Italian with a twist
CYO (Cook Your Own) with Chef Enzo at Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah
Hailing from Umbria near Tuscany, Chef Enzo is on hand to show aspiring chefs (or anyone tired of only being able to make scrambled eggs) how to transform fresh, seasonal ingredients into traditional Italian dishes – ‘with a twist’, according to Enzo himself. Our tip? Be sure to concentrate, because you’ll be eating all three courses that you make. However, under Enzo’s watchful eye, this shouldn’t be an issue.
When? Every Wednesday and Friday, 4.30pm-8.30pm.
How much? The Dhs250 fee includes a glass of wine with your meal and an apron to take home.
Where? Rococo Kitchen, Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach, JBR (04 448 4860, or text 055 268 1975).
Best for: big groups
Masterclasses at the Park Hyatt
With a handful of top restaurants at its disposal, it’s no wonder that the Park Hyatt offers more than one cookery masterclass. At Traiteur, chef de cuisine Franck Detrait, who honed his skills at Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, offers classes with a decidedly Gallic twist. Not only does Chef Franck show his students how to prepare more complicated delicacies such as crustaceans and shellfish, but there’s also advice on creating candlelit dinners, barbecues, finger food for cocktail parties and a range of other essential kitchen skills. Meanwhile, in Thai Kitchen, Chef Supattra Panyasombat has 16 years of experience preparing Thai food in Hyatt hotels around the word, and a bronze medal from the Thailand Chefs’ Association. Chef Supattra says her classes are ideal for food enthusiasts or a day out with the girls. Because the Park Hyatt offers cooking classes in two venues, it can cater for groups as small as eight people and as big as 30 (divided between kitchens).
When? Masterclasses are held every Saturday subject to minimum numbers, noon-3pm.
How much? Dhs295 per person (includes lunch or early dinner and soft drinks); Dhs445 (with bubbly or grape-based beverages).
Where? Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 602 1234).
Best for: variety
L’Atelier des Chefs at Le Méridien Dubai
After starting out in France, cooking school L’Atelier des Chefs has become a global phenomenon, with classes taking place in Paris, London and now Dubai. L’Atelier has set up shop at Le Méridien in Garhoud and hosts an array of cookery packages, including knife skills, kids’ cooking classes, gourmet lessons, pastry classes, and fish dish sessions. We’re fans of the daily Cook, Eat and Run classes, which guarantee that you learn to cook something new in just 30 minutes – perfect for the rush and rumble of Dubai life.
When? Ongoing. Call to schedule.
How much? Prices vary, though the Cook, Eat and Run class costs Dhs120.
Where? Le Méridien Dubai, Garhoud, www.atelierdeschefsdubai.com (04 217 0000).
Best for: a Michelin experience
Verre by Gordon Ramsay masterclass at Hilton Dubai Deira
Executive chef Scott Price, who was hand-picked by Gordon Ramsay, and head chef Nick Alves co-host Verre’s masterclass, which offers insight into the workings of a Ramsay kitchen (minus the industrial language, of course). Though private sessions can be arranged, classes usually consist of eight students who are treated to a demonstration by Scott before having the opportunity to prepare a three-course Ramsay-esque meal themselves.
When? Daily (depending on availability), 10am-2pm.
How much? Dhs950, including a Verre apron and recipes, continental breakfast and refreshments.
Where? Verre by Gordon Ramsay, Hilton Dubai Deira Creek (04 227 1111, Anne.Krauss@hilton.com).
Best for: sushi skills
Japanese masterclass at Nobu
Japanese food has always had an air of mystique about it, especially if it’s mentioned in the same sentence as legendary chef and restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa. However, at the Nobu masterclass, participants learn that there’s as much simplicity as skill involved when preparing sushi and sashimi. As well as teaching the more practical aspects of preparing Japanese cuisine, Nobu’s chef de cuisine, Herve Courtot, will explain the history of sushi, offering hands-on experience for students as well as a tempura demonstration. Proceedings are rounded up with Chef Herve divulging the secrets of Nobu’s signature cheesecake (baked cream cheese and sour cream served with passion fruit and pineapple sorbet). After toiling in the kitchen, students can sample how the dishes should taste in a three-course meal prepared by the Nobu team. Class sizes are limited to 12 people.
When? The first Saturday of each month, 11am-2pm.
How much? Dhs1,250 including a three-hour lesson, a three-course lunch and a Nobu apron.
Where? Nobu, Atlantis The Palm, email@example.com (04 426 0760, 04 426 0761).
Best for: budget
Cookery and bartending lessons at Dubai Marina Yacht Club
Chef Thushan teaches his students how to whip up simple dishes in the casual environs of the Dubai Marina Yacht Club. However, this sets itself apart from other courses by also offering bartending lessons, meaning you’ll learn to shake a mean mixed drink for your next housewarming.
When? Ongoing. Call for details.
How much? Dhs200 for the cookery classes; Dhs100 for a bartending session.
Where? Dubai Marina Yacht Club, Dubai Marina, izebrini@dubaimarina yachtclub.com (04 362 7900).
Asado: Executive chef Jean Luc teaches students how to cook marinated salmon, grape salad, roast turkey with apple, foie gras stuffing, festive season vegetables and chestnut parfait – the perfect ingredients for a Christmas feast.
When? December 7, 11am-1pm.
How much? Dhs295 per person.
Where? The Palace, Downtown Burj Khalifa, dine@thepalace- dubai.com (04 428 7808).
More: More Café is offering festive cooking classes at all its locations around town. Participants will learn how to roast the perfect Christmas turkey and get the best out of all the traditional Christmas dishes.
When? 9am-noon throughout the month at different locations, see the website for info.
How much? Dhs150 per person.
Where? Locations across Dubai: see www.morecafe.biz for details.
Rhodes Mezzanine: Chef Paul Lupton will be hosting a hands-on culinary masterclass on December 4. Impress even the most discerning guests with festive culinary creations such as parsnip soup and turkey tournedos.
When? December 4, 10am-2pm.
How much? Dhs1,500 – the session also includes a goodie bag containing a Rhodes Mezzanine apron and chef’s hat, a cookbook, ceramic cooking knives and a Rhodes Mezzanine notepad.
Where? Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina (04 317 6000).