Last month I was a gleeful and extremely fortunate attendee at what has rapidly become a very popular cooking demo series. Roughly every month famed restaurateur, Andrew Draper, owner and Chef Patron of Harvey’s in Umhlanga, hosts cooking classes over 4 nights. Each month its a different menu so some people attend more than once, armed with notebooks and tupperware containers for the leftovers.
I loved the experience and I want to share the reasons why I think others would love it too. So, you should sign up for this if:
1. You have no fancy cooking experience but want to be able to pull off fancy food
I am a challenged stove-jockey at best. At worst, I am the reason you are cautioned to keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen (had one, had an opportunity where it needed using…twice). If you are like me you read the words “Master Class” with skepticism and mild apprehension. There’s no need. Andrew approaches seemingly-complex recipes in an accessible, unpretentious format that he seasons with his humour. I learned to make and execute a “Deconstructed beef wellington with mushroom duxelle, puff pastry mille feuille with a red wine reduction”. It’s actually tougher to pronounce those words than cook the recipe.
2. You want to spoil yourself and eat amazing food
It’s basically a full 7-course meal, one that you would easily enjoy at a fine dining restaurant. Sometimes even more if there are some ingredients that Andrew has hauled up from the Harvey’s kitchens and wants to share with the guests. And Im not talking taster plates here. I had trouble walking out of the first demo. Pro tip: wear pants you can loosen or bring a container for your grub because you won’t be able to fit it all in (I made a valiant effort, however).
3. You want to learn the secrets behind some of Harvey’s best dishes
Not only do you get to find out how they make things like their epic deep-fried and stuffed olives, but you get to eat them on the regular. You also gain an insight into restaurant trade secrets (like what pots they really use, where to buy butter in bulk on special and other both handy and fascinating tips peppered throughout).
4. You want to do a short cooking course but want to learn something that really impresses
The 4 nights are crammed to the hilt with lots of impressive somethings. And often, at the lesson that follows on another evening, fellow attendees bring containers of the dishes they made at home from the recipes learned, and share with everyone, so the recipes hold their own when executed at home.
5. You want to meet other passionate foodies while stuffing your face with food
This was probably one of my favourite aspects. Because of Andrew’s effusive, joking and happy nature, his often comical approach to demonstrating cooking techniques and his (rather dirty, hilariously dirty, no-holds-barred) sense of humour creates a very convivial atmosphere. Whatever ice that needs breaking is bulldozed through, people enjoy a few glasses of wine, trade recipe notes, share their efforts from the previous lessons and indulge in many a plate and platter of decadent food.
If this sounds like your kinda thing, the next batch of Master Classes kick off on the 14th of August. Cost of the lessons is R2800 which includes coffees, soft drinks, dinner and recipe cards. The venue is at 8 Solstice Road, cnr Millennium Boulevard, Shop 1, Millennium Towers
Umhlanga. Classes start at 6:30pm. For more info, contact Monique at email@example.com or give ’em a call at Harvey’s 031- 5614977