With a twinkle in her eye Kathy said “I’m taking a cooking class at a very prestigious culinary institute on Saturday, I wonder if you’d like to go?”

Cooking class? The last time I was in cooking class was 8th grade when the classes switched, and the girls took ‘shop’ while the boys had cooking. My memory of those days was a classroom filled with flying cupcake dough and a frazzled teacher screaming, “Put that down; no not there!”

My prowess in the kitchen consists of a great tuna fish sandwich with lemon icing and eggs any style with burnt toast. The thought of being under the tutelage of a qualified teaching chef in a world-class school guiding my every move was like that first week of basic training when nothing I did was right in the drill sergeant’s eyes. I said, “Wow, sounds like fun, let’s go!”

At first, I thought I had done something wrong, that my baloney and eggs appetizer had run its course, that I didn’t want to cook. since I had memorized the telephone numbers of all the take-out places in our area, But this sounded adventurous. Kathy thought this would be good for me, and besides, the person originally attending couldn’t go. The school was set up in a converted hospital building and we walked in through the former emergency entrance and signed up, receiving an apron, a chef’s hat and a small crying towel. So far so good.

Our class of 20 consisted of people from all walks of life who fervently hoped the time spent with professional culinary artisans would help them in their love of cooking. I was under no such delusion and hoped for some decent comedy material. Kathy immediately pawned me off to a different partner and chose, as her partner, Gil, a seasoned student, who wore his hat at precisely the correct angle.

We assembled around long tables with cutting boards on them, and knives so sharp that the first words out of our visiting chef’s mouth was that if we cut ourselves and go into shock, don’t come screaming to him and certainly don’t bleed near the crème brulee. Everyone laughed and I tested the knife immediately to see if he was kidding. He wasn’t.

The class was called Asian Aroma’s and I got lucky because my partner Garry, a lawyer, (note; I will not go for the obvious line ‘Sous chef’ here) had taken some classes already and could identify the ‘Bok Choy’. As part of the overall feast, we all would later consume, we would make the soup called ‘Tinolang Manok’. Translated from the Filipino language, it meant, “Anything that grows wild on this island, throw in the soup with chicken if you have caught one”.

The kitchen had everything I imagined a professional kitchen would have. It was gleaming steel and sparkling cooking surfaces and a large window through which the culinary students could look on as their teachers would point us out and say, “See that? Don’t do that. See that bald guy, never do that!” I could see them making notes.

Our visiting instructor, who had cooked for the rich and famous, walked around giving helpful advice such as “add more water, add less water and just hold your hand higher than your heart and the bleeding should slow down.

Our paper recipe had small pieces of chicken parts and soybean oil on it and was becoming indecipherable. I decided to throw it out and do what any great chef did, go on instinct. We had a good old time as we julienned, diced and sliced our way through the recipe. I think I misread the amount of fish sauce, so the soup turned out saltier than the Dead Sea, but when chef Larry tasted it, he said “Delicious! it just needs to sit for a few hours so the flavors can melt into each other”. I realized since we had paid for the class, he wasn’t going to make a face and put a picture up on the watch out for these men bulletin board. We enjoyed each other’s creations for lunch, and I had a new-found admiration for the culinary arts, although no matter how much you sweeten it, grapefruit will never grace my dessert tray.

I still didn’t know which end was the ‘Bok’, and which end was the ‘Choy’ and I wondered if the school’s students ate like this every day. Our question was answered as we left, when we held the door open for the delivery guy with an arm full of pizza’s.






Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here