Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dirty Apron Cooking School - Izakayaka Style

I have amazing friends that bought me a gift certificate to use towards a Dirty Apron Cooking School Class. I've heard amazing things about these classes and that they are pretty much the creme de la creme for cooking classes in Vancouver. Dirty Apron Cooking Classes are part of the Chambar/ Cafe Medina/ Dirty Apron Deli brand. They offer a wide variety of 4 hour hands on classes for $150.00.
I'm pretty frugal, and when a cooking class costs that much, my expectations are set pretty high, and I was pretty picky when choosing which class to take. The minute I came across the description and menu for the Izakaya Kings class, I knew that was the one I wanted. The menu sounded amazing- all dishes I've eaten before and love. I tried to book this class a few times over the past year, but unfortunately, the dates never seemed to work out. Finally, I picked a day, booked the class (as an added plus- Leggy Redhead signed up too!) and counted down the days!

The class started at 5:30pm. From the moment we walked in the front door, we were well taken care of. A friendly staffer greeted us warmly, took our coats, checked us in, hung our coats, gave us a folder with the recipe's that we would be cooking with that evening and our own apron with nametag and seated us in a side dining area. There was sparkling wine poured for us and little appetizer plates to nibble on. Talk about a warm welcome. The class size was pretty small, about 16-20 people with one large group (students, I think?) and we had a main instructor, and two assistants. This kitchen is stunning! You share an oven and full counter station but there is plenty of space. And everything is state of the art. It was so fun to use all of the fantastic appliances, an amazing assortment of knifes, utensils, and fancy dishes.

The whole evening flowed really swiftly and seamlessly, from instruction to cooking to sitting down to eat- and then doing it all over again. For the instruction/demo portion, there are two rows of chairs facing the demo counter and mirrors on the ceiling so that you can have both a direct and bird's eye view of the preperation and cooking.

When it comes to cooking each dish yourself, the ingredients are pre-measured and brought out on trays. There is minimal chopping and cleaning as you put your dish together. Everything has been extremely thought out so the process goes smoothly. As you eat the dishes that you've prepared (in courses) there are two sous chefs that come and clean up your cooking station and give you the ingredients needed for the next dish. You watch and learn, then you cook that dish for yourself to eat in the dining room.

Our instructor, Takashi, was awesome. He explained things so clearly and talked us through every step of the demo carefully. Along the way, he would tell personal stories about eating these foods in Japan, growing up as a Japanese kid in the GVA 'burbs years ago and how far Van city has come in terms of becoming a Japanese food mecca. Unlike a few other classes I've taken, Takashi was really great about offering suggestions for ingredient substitions... like if you were cooking for vegans or vegetarians or if you needed to save time and take a short cut. He is a fantastic teacher!

First up, Chicken Yakitori with Tuka Dare (Teriyaki Glaze) and Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake). We also made the miso marinade for our sablefish main.

Next up, Prawn Sunomono Salad and Spinach Gomae.

The main dish: Miso Sake Roasted Sablefish.

We didn't learn to make any desserts, but they provided us with a serving of in house made green tea ice cream and raspberry coulis.

This was an all around fantastic experience and a wonderful night. The food all turned out amazing and I can't wait to make all of these dishes at home. It's a hefty price tag but for me, I'd do it again for the right class, for a special occassion. It's 4 hours of entertainment, a delicious 4 course meal, drinks, and fantastic service. A huge hug and thanks to my girlfriends who gifted me with this fun night and a big thanks to the Leggy Redhead for bringing even more food nerd fun into the evening.

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