Of all the culinary distinctions in the UK, Welsh cuisine stands out for its hearty consistency, its savoury quality and its historic ability to provide sustenance, even in meager harvest times.
Indeed, history reveals that the Welsh folk were hard working, living off beer and bread, meat and dairy, with cabbage and leeks the only vegetables of record in the region.
In fact, the tasty leek earned such a status as to be proclaimed the national vegetable!
All of that was way back, when transportation was inefficient and iffy at best, and the country was pretty much isolated.
My, how things have changed since then!
Motorways and shipping lanes make imports of raw ingredients a daily occurrence. Today, people can enjoy a variety of foods and cuisines, from American to Chinese.
Statistics show that Cardiff's top 3 favourite tastes from elsewhere are chicken tikka marsala, hamburgers and chow mein!
Does that mean that Welsh cooking, like so many others around the globe, is becoming a fusion of world tastes?
Even today, a discussion of Welsh cookery is apt to generate a surprising amount of heat – Bobby Freeman, author of The Classic Guide to Welsh Food
Indeed, the Welsh are passionate about many things, including their heritage and their food.
Between fealty to kings who demanded food tributes from everyone – depleting their meager stocks, and years of food riots because there was simply not enough to eat, the people of Wales have earned the right to fierce pride in their cuisine.
But, you may ask, whichever aspect of Welsh cooking I want to master, how do I find cooking classes near me?
An Overview of Available Cooking Classes in Cardiff
Whether you long to master the intricacies of Welsh cuisine or have those skills firmly under your belt – pun intended, and are now looking to explore other cooking styles, Cardiff has so much to offer the burgeoning chef!
Would you call toddlers burgeoning?
While the Little Spoon doesn’t exactly offer cooking classes for toddlers – that would be far too dangerous, what with all of the knives and the heat sources a standard kitchen contains, they do welcome children ages 6 and up to gain their first formal kitchen experience with them.
You may sign your child up for their monthly cooking club which has lessons either Saturday or Sunday, as you choose.
In these courses, you progeny would learn about the importance of a balanced diet as well as how to prepare food.
Each lesson will teach them one sweet and one savoury dish that they will bring home for the rest of the family to sample. Naturally, they may replicate those foods they learn because they will also get a recipe card!
You might be excited to hear that they also run Holiday Workshops for when school is out of session! Their upcoming one will be held March 1st, during half-term holiday. True to their sweet-savoury format, students will learn how to make mini pizzas and blueberry muffins.
You should hurry to enrol your kids; each class is limited to 12 children and, at only £20, those places will go fast!
Note: The Little Spoon also has classes for kids in their teens; should your child be of an age where s/he might be heading off to university, you might like to sign up for their University Skills course.
Before we get too carried away with talking about all the fun to be had while learning how to cook in Cardiff, let us give you this overview of facilities, what they teach and how to find them.
Cooking Lessons in Cardiff:
|Facility Name||What They Teach||Web Address||Notes|
|Cornerhouse cookery||Pasta and sauces|
|www.cornerhousecookery.co.uk/classes-and-events.php||Currently moving house; no classes on offer just now|
|The Culinary Cottage||Basic kitchen skills|
Cakes and baking
and so much more!
|www.theculinarycottage.co.uk||They also host children's classes and courses for gentlemen|
|Giovanni's Cooking school||Basic kitchen skills|
|www.giovanniscardiff.co.uk/cookery-school/classes/||They host a children's pizza making course!|
SG|The Food Studio
|New Age Indian food recipes||www.citylifecardiff.co.uk/moksh/||As featured in City Life Magazine!|
|Angela Gray's Cookery School||Kitchen basics|
Lunch and Supper club events
|www.angelagray.co.uk/cookery-courses/||Cooking demonstrations held on Saturdays!|
|The Drover's Rest||Kitchen confidence|
|www.food-food-food.co.uk||Whenever possible, they use locally sourced foods!|
|Purple Poppadom||Innovative Indian cuisine||purplepoppadom.com||Courses held monthly on select Saturdays|
|Little Spoon||Cooking for kids and teens||www.little-spoon.co.uk||Book your child's next birthday party there!|
|The Culinary Cook||Everything from cooking basics to master classes||theculinarycook.com/learning-to-cook-online/||Online cooking lessons!|
|Rouxbe||Assorted online modules to learn cooking skills||rouxbe.com/cooking-courses||Take a course on food safety!|
Let us now discover the enticing aromas and tastes of Wales!
Welsh Signature Dishes
As mentioned before, the fare in Wales tends more toward the hearty: stews and breads, with some meat thrown in.
The Welsh Rarebit, formerly known as Welsh rabbit, might be the most deceptive item on the menu, as it contains no rabbit whatsoever!
The dish consists of melted cheese made savoury with herbs and other ingredients, poured over bread.
A variation of it comes similar to fondue, where the cheese sauce is left in its chafing dish, while the accompanying bread is served to each diner.
Other signature dishes from Wales include:
- Cawl, a hearty stew with a meat base, complemented by potatoes, rutabagas and carrots
- the name cawl is used today to refer to any Welsh soup; traditionally it referred only to that specific one.
- Bara Brith, also called speckled bread, was flavoured with tea and traditionally served at tea time
- It is currently enjoying a revival, thanks to celebrity chefs and even Prince Charles!
- Laverbread is made with boiled, puréed seaweed, which is then rolled in oats and fried.
- Served for breakfast with bacon and cockles, Sir Richard Burton proclaimed it the Welsh man's caviar!
- Glamorgan sausage is made of cheese, leeks and breadcrumbs – no meat.
- They rose in popularity during the second world war, when meat was scarce
- Welsh cakes: a rich treat consisting of flour, butter, eggs, and milk; flavoured with currants, and cinnamon and nutmeg
- they are occasionally, and incorrectly referred to as griddle scones
In spite of all this stick-to-the-ribs goodness, could there be more diversity in food for Wales?
The Drover’s Rest: Authentic Welsh Cooking
This establishment is a prime example of Welsh hominess as it comprises of a hotel and a restaurant, located in the heart of Cardiff, on the Afon Irfon.
You probably wouldn’t care about the hotel if you live in Cardiff but you might be interested in their restaurant’s cooking classes...
Enjoy tasty treats with tea or coffee before the activity starts; during that opening interlude, you will discuss with Chef Peter James the day’s agenda.
If you’ve signed up for the Dinner Party class, you will learn everything from menu preparation to which wine to serve with which course.
You might also be interested in their Romantic Dinner course if you’re looking for Act II of your recent, successful Valentine’s Day celebration!
On the other hand, if you’re looking to give flair to your everyday cooking, you might sign up for that class.
It is perfectly possible, with skill and imagination, to eat healthily for not very much money – Jon Henley
So many of us get bored with the same old foods, or we’re tired after work and don’t feel like making anything... no blame assignment here; we’ve all been there!
One way to get out of that rut would be to enjoy Chef James’ classes. Besides those already mentioned, he teaches:
- The Three Course Dinner Party
- How to prepare Welsh game – pheasant, venison and other wild game
- Traditional Welsh cooking
- Back to the Favourites: new twists on family favourites
- Vegetarian dishes: all ingredients locally sourced
- Pastry Day (taught by Pastry chef Paulette Reed)
Chef James and his cohorts truly lay every trick on the line, arming you for future kitchen expeditions that will result in memorable gastronomical experiences.
How could anyone resist?
The Italian Influence on Welsh Cuisine
Around 100 years ago, the increase in coal mining and steel works led to an influx of Italian immigrants who, naturally, brought their families and foods with them.
Since then, Italian cuisine has... not exactly become a staple of Welsh cuisine, but exists peacefully alongside it.
The two styles of cooking are quite similar: short on meat, heavy on wheat and sauces – although tangy tomato sauces diverge from the traditional, aromatic Welsh broths and sauces.
Let us now discover where we can learn to cook these fine foods in Cardiff!
Learning Cooking Basics
Reported in the Daily Mail: one in 10 Britons cannot cook and sandwiches have become the most common meal besides takeaways.
In case you hold those shocking statistics to be a one-off, those findings were echoed in a separate report published in The Independent.
We’re all busy and stressed and quite possibly the last thing anyone wants to do upon arriving home of an evening is to attempt to slice, dice, chop and fry... right?
You might be pleased to know that there could be an underlying cause to your kitchen reticence.
According to Angela Gray of the eponymous Cookery School, disorganisation is one of the main reasons that people don’t cook more.
Having a poorly organised kitchen, with implements here and ingredients there makes for a very frustrating experience, especially if you’ve already suffered through a long, frustrating day.
During her one-day courses, she teaches the basics of cookery: how your kitchen should be organised, how to prep food, effective chopping and healthy meal composition. And cooking, of course!
You will prepare up to five dishes to take home (please bring containers to pack it all away) and be treated to a lunch, wine and other beverages.
If you are not yet confident you’d like to tackle the chopping block, perhaps the Saturday cooking demonstration would be better for you.
At these events, the audience is hands-off, meaning they can focus wholly on Ms Angela’s patter and instructions. You might want to bring a notebook so you can record information and impressions – but don’t let note-taking distract you from the nibbles that make their way around the room at regular intervals.
And how’s this for fun? At the end of the session, you may take home the dishes Angela prepares, provided you hold the winning raffle ticket!
Giovanni's Cookery School
Considering the presence and significance of Italy – her food and her people, in Cardiff's history, it should come as no surprise that the best known chef would be of that descent.
Not only has Giovanni won awards for multiple dining outlets, but he is active in philanthropy and now, shares his passion for fine food preparation through cooking classes!
Have you always wanted to know how those pizza artists toss dough into the air to make the perfect crust?
Did you ever wonder if you could be better at grilling beef?
Maybe it is those sweet Italian treats that so tempt you... will anyone teach you how?
You can sign up for a day class or half class in these specific topics and more, to learn everything from how to make meatballs to preparing seafood.
Each of these lessons includes a three-course meal and complementary wine, except for the children's courses: no wine for them!
Whether you want to get hands on with the cooking or just witness a cooking demonstration, Giovanni's Cookery School has a cooking programme for you.
For a sample of the food he could teach you to prepare, you may consider dining there, or at his other restaurant...
Oh! You already have?
Moksh Indian Cookery Classes
Let's say that you are one of those statistics who love Indian cuisine.
To be sure, dining out is a special treat, but what if you could turn out delicious Indian food right in your own kitchen?
Head Chef Stephen Gomes teaches Indian cooking techniques at his facility, conveniently located in the heart of Cardiff, only 5 minutes from Moksh.
His culinary classes reflect modernist Indian cuisine, which he presents in an entertaining yet informative demonstration that you can participate in!
Also, as there is no set curriculum for this cooking school – the menu changes day by day, prepare yourself for surprise as well as a few gifts for attending, including a spice box and the apron you wore on the day you finally learned Indian cooking methods.
How are your skills in the kitchen, really? Do you ply a knife competently, or might you need to learn basic cooking?
For anything from seasonal dishes to cooking for kids – or a team building exercise at work, the next featured school has something for everyone!
It seems that, since we first reported on these classes, Chef Gomes has undertaken the expansion of his restaurant venture.
In fact, it appears diners were dismayed when, turning up for their dinner reservations, they found the restaurant was closed!
It was all a matter of logistics, it turns out. While securing the larger property across the street from their current location, Chef Gomes was forced to close the doors on his current venue in order to get the other one up and running as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, that interruption means that his delightful cookery classes are also suspended for the time being.
Might you be a fan of his food? Have you taken his classes before with the intent to learn from him again? Sadly, you may have to wait: this year will see him with two eateries, one right across the street from the other.
However, you are truly into quirky food, be sure to sample the menu at his new venue, called 101: there will apparently be a dessert that replicates the A48, complete with scenery and traffic you get to eat!
That last bit was not good news for you if you had your heart set on learning Indian cooking, is it?
If indeed learning curries and tikkas is your passion, you may be well-met at this multiple-award-winning restaurant which also hosts cooking classes London.
Chef Anand George, the creator of the tantalising fare on offer in his restaurant, also hosts cookery classes on select Saturdays!
How would you like to wow your dinner guests with a cardamom-infused tikka supreme or a prawn curry that you learned to make in his classes?
The next course will be held on March 23rd and, to ensure quality teaching and room enough for everyone to cook safely, class size is limited. For only £169, this course is a steal! And that price includes Chef George’s cookbook.
What’s so great about these lessons is that they are atypical.
Ordinary cooking classes consist of a lecture and/or demonstration, and then its ‘get your aprons on and let’s go’!
Chef George, by contrast, offers you light refreshments and conversation to put you at your ease, and then you get to cooking. Even more interesting: come time to eat, about three hours into the class, you don’t eat the food you’ve prepared!
Chef George will instead regale you with dishes of his own making, permitting you to take your creations home to enjoy with family and friends.
Taking Online Cooking Lessons
One can learn just about everything online including cooking. Furthermore, taking cooking lessons online offers several advantages:
- you are not geographically restricted or limited in what foods you can learn to prepare; you may learn to cook from chefs all over the world!
- you can take your device - pad or smartphone, even your laptop into the kitchen and pause the lesson as needed.
- you can learn to cook in your own home, where you are comfortable and familiar with all of your gadgets and implements
That last, of course, presents a downside: what if you don't have the specific gadget or implement that particular cooking instructor proclaims as necessary to create the dish in question?
Some good examples of this would be the torch to make the crusts on creme brulée, a cake decorating kit or a particular cake pan.
One way around that conundrum would be to watch the cooking videos before you take to the kitchen, so that you can see what you need in the way of ingredients and tools.
Should you prefer this means of exploring and expanding your talent in the kitchen, there are several websites you might turn to.
Rouxbe is a membership cooking website where you can learn everything from knife skills to cooking in a wok. There is even a series of lessons on food safety: preparing and storing food and a cleanup that eliminates the possibility of any foodborne infection.
An annual subscription costs just under $100; if you prefer to pay monthly, your membership cost would be $9.99 - a small price to pay for becoming a master in the kitchen!
With more than 1500 instructional videos and remote support from their staff of chefs, this would be a hard deal to beat... unless you prefer an actual person to teach you to cook in your home.
Learning to Cook with a Tutor
If one can engage an in-home tutor for any academic subject, it stands to reason that there are also tutors for domestic arts such as sewing and cooking.
If that is your reasoning, you could not be more right! You may find cooking instructors to teach you at home through a variety of means, from scanning your local paper's adverts to fliers on your library's and supermarkets' bulletin boards; you may also search online for a tutor to help you learn to cook.
The greatest benefit to engaging a cooking tutor is that you would receive personalised attention and instruction, whether you take lessons in your home or at your tutor's.
Furthermore, your cooking tutor will be proactive in his/her instruction: demonstrating the right way to hold a knife, for example, or in showing you recipe shortcuts that make cooking so much simpler!
Superprof has cooking tutors who give instruction both online and at home.
Eric, a Superprof cooking tutor, has helped many in the Cardiff area become the master in their kitchen. Student testimonials show that they love his down-to-earth teaching style and the nifty way he goes around a kitchen.
Why not give him a try?
Explore your Gourmet Side with The Culinary Cottage
Just about an hour north of Cardiff, located in Abergavenny is a fabulous nook that teaches amateur gastronomes anything they would want to know about the art of cooking.
From luscious cakes and desserts to succulent meats, including scrumptious seasonal fare, The Culinary Cottage has justifiably earned its reputation as a culinary school of the highest order.
Vegetarian cooking? Check! Game preparation? Check! Kids in the kitchen? Check!
This school of culinary arts even offers a gentlemen only course, where men can learn how to wow with food.
Whether you are a novice of knife skills or already have mastered substantial culinary feats, you will surely find a course to interest you at The Culinary Cottage.
Do you know what an Aga is? Might you have one in your kitchen?
If so, Penny Lewis can teach you exactly how versatile it can be, from warming your toes in the winter to grilling, baking, roasting and toasting.
Some classes last a whole week, while others only take a few hours.
Why not check out her page to find the cooking course that is right for you?
Men Are the Future of Cooking?
So avers Esquire magazine and, in an article in The Telegraph, the subject is discussed at length!
When you think about celebrity chefs, who comes to mind: Gordon Ramsay? Paul Hollywood, James Martin and Jamie Oliver?
Fact is, fully 1/3 of all British families are fed meals prepared by male household members – and it doesn’t look like that number is in decline any time soon, as the focus on classes for gentlemen at the Culinary Cottage reveals.
With summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to learn how to roast and grill your favourite cuts of meat to savoury perfection!
Conversely, seeing as we are still on the chilly side of temperatures, why not learn how to make a satisfying casserole or bake your own bread?
The conviviality of these courses carries over after class, too: there is a pub two doors down from the school where students gather to enjoy a pint after their sessions in the kitchen!
There are so many cooking schools in and around Cardiff, there is hardly room enough to mention them all!
Let us talk about fine dining experiences in the city, instead...
Eating Out in Cardiff
When you treat yourself to a meal out, what do you prefer: seafood? Cordon Bleu? Michelin starred houses?
Or are you more of a budget dining type? You can confess; there is no shame in it, especially because the selection of eateries and pubs is so wide!
Selecting your best dining experience could be somewhat confusing, though.
Review page Chowhound avers Le Gallois is the perfect dining experience, but that name doesn't feature at all on Tripadvisor's page of restaurant recommendations.
In short, someone travelling to Cardiff, looking for a gastronomical adventure, would have their pick of food choices, so rich is the food culture there!
One restaurant that features on every page we've seen is Madame Fromage, and sampling their fare indicates all of the stories are true!
Their daytime menu consists of traditional Welsh favourites at a fair price, but come back in the evening and you will be treated to a feast of French, from baked Camembert to Boeuf Bourguingnon.
If it is Asian style that you crave, head directly to Café Malaysia, where the décor is a mess but the food more than makes up for it.
You might have a bit of trouble finding it, as there are no easily visible signs indicating its presence.
Trust our Guardian to help out!
You can read about their featured budget restaurants, and perhaps entice your taste buds to a new experience.
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