Those of you partial to a bit of Saturday morning TV will probably have come cross Saturday Kitchen, the endearingly goofy food show hosted by James Martin and regularly visited by some of the nation’s top chefs. Building on this success, Cactus TV – the production company behind the show – has opened a cooking school in partnership with none other than Michel Roux Jr.
Housed above the actual studio where Saturday Kitchen is filmed in an unassuming building in Clapham, the cooking school offers an inspired array of unique and intimate culinary experiences and cooking lessons. It’s a place to spend quality time cooking, tasting and learning about food and wine, and to get up-close-and-personal with some of the most experienced chefs and wine experts around.
The calendar of classes on offer over the coming months ranges from exclusive, behind-the-scenes sessions with Saturday Kitchen favourites Atul Kochhar and Francesco Mazzei to intimate, full day classes with the protégés of Michel Roux Jr, including Sous Chef Monica Galetti, and Head Chef Steve Groves.
Our recent experience of ‘Cooking the Roux Way: Shellfish & Champagne’ proved to be a fantastic day out filled with great teaching, warm hospitality and delicious food. Hosted by Chris King, the super-talented Chef de Cuisine of Roux at the Landau, the six hour session provided a masterclass in how to shuck, shell and sear a variety of shellfish including crabs, razor clams and scallops.
Not one for the faint-hearted, we loved the fact that we were presented with live shellfish that we actually had to kill and prepare ourselves. This in turn meant that not only did we understand how easy such tasks can be, but the use of absolutely fresh ingredients ensured that our final dishes were bursting with the best flavour possible.
Dishes cooked included a classic dress crab; razor clams, chorizo & seashore vegetables; and seared scallops served with a spiced pepper coulis & shaved fennel – the kind of dishes that wouldn’t be out of place in a top-notch restaurant but can also be simply constructed at home. Truly the ultimate foodie day out, the day also included a breakfast of fresh pastries and a delicious wine-matched Panzanella for lunch.
Come the end of the day – when it came to actually eating the dishes that we had created – the experience reached a decadent culinary climax as each of our personally prepared dishes was presented with paired champagnes selected by Silvano Giraldin, Director of Le Gavroche in conjunction with the Rare & Fine Wine Company.
Our experience cost around £250, although there are experiences available from under £100. However, considering the quality of the teaching, the wonderfully fresh ingredients, the spacious professional work-stations, and most importantly the knowledge and confidence we gained, we reckon a day out at Cactus Kitchens is an absolute must for all foodies of all skill levels.
1 St Luke’s Avenue
London SW4 7LG
T: 020 7091 4800