Monday, 31 March 2014

Mondo Organics Cooking School - back to basics for a foodie

**I was a guest of Mondo Organics for this cooking class

I wasn't going to lie, so when it was my turn to rate my cooking skills from 1, a beginner, to 5 a culinary wizard, I gave myself an honest zero.  We were standing in a semi circle around Mondo Organic's head chef and cooking school instructor Paul Horne and we were about to be put through our paces with the modern Spanish tapas class.  But I get ahead of myself.

A few months ago, I made a long overdue and first visit to Mondo Organics (see post here) and was completely blown away by the West End institution.  I'd been hearing great things about Mondo Organics for many years, but strangely had never got around to checking out the casual fine diner.  I'd been slowly making my way through the AGFG Brisbane hatted restaurants and it was getting impossible for me to ignore Mondo any longer.  Quite rightly, I my post reflected the amazing meal that I'd consumed and I resolved to get back to Mondo as quickly as I could for a return visit.

Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long when Mondo Organics co-owner and chef Brenda Fawdon contacted me and asked me to come along to the Mondo cooking school, so they could put me through the paces of the well known cooking classes.  Excited and a little apprehensive, I happily agreed to come along and write about my experience!  FoodMeUpScotty, in a cooking class - chalk that up as something you're not going to see every day!

So, SC and I made our way after work to Mondo Organics, where we sat and waited for our fellow cooking class victims students to join us before making our way next door to the main dining area, where a ready made kitchen awaited us.  There were about twelve of us all lined up and with brand new Mondo Organics cooking school aprons around our necks, keen expressions on our faces and we were about to lay bare our experience in the kitchen.

After completely embarrassing myself with my self rating of zero, chef Paul put my low levels of anxiety at ease with a reassurance that we'd get through the cooking class with fingers intact and some mad new skills.  Once the cooking class commenced, I was again reminded of how easy a top quality chef makes cooking look.  Not only did chef Paul encourage and involve each attendee, but he kept the six courses going at the same time, showing the type of skills that makes Mondo Organics one of the top restaurants in Brisbane.

The most memorable aspect of the class was tuition in knife skills, which were quite different to my butchered and hacking attempts when I do cut stuff at home.  The secret is in the rocking motion and making sure your fingers have the right height and the right curl.  What was fantastic about the class was the high level of involvement in the dishes and I almost single handedly (well, almost) made the salt cod saffron fritters (I tell you, mixing the cod and potato together was a messy affair).

There were a couple of real highlights from the class with the biggest seeing how easy it was to make the serrano jamon and manchego croquettes.  The other was the smell in the kitchen from the pan fried chorizo and black pudding, used for the green lentils with olives, chorizo and black pudding.  The funniest moment was when some of the team were asked to stuff a pork loin with dried figs and cherry - seriously it was pretty hilarious watching the fig get stuffed with the wrong end of a wooden spoon!

We were having some serious fun learning to cook a full Spanish banquet and time started to get away from the group and before we knew it, it was 9:15pm.  It was time for us to pile out of the kitchen and back into the Mondo dining room so we could start to enjoy the fruits of our labour and we could sit down and enjoy the food that we had prepared and cooked ourselves.

I have to say I had an incredible time in the Mondo Organics cooking school kitchen, it was messy and smelly (in a good way) and we did learn some mad new skills, well I did anyway.  I'm pretty confident that I now have the knife skills to whip around the kitchen cutting stuff up, and I will do it when I'm given the opportunity!  While I had a lot of fun in the class and would think about doing it again, it also made me realise that cooking is not my thing and may never be....  I'm more of an eating-the-food kind of guy and the world needs that too!  But at least I got to watch a skilled chef in action and I could see from the repeat visits by most of the 'students' that cooking can easily get in your blood.

**I was a guest of Mondo Organics for this cooking class

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