A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Just add a pinch of Ivan's brand of comedy
I first came across Venezuelan-born comedian Ivan Aristeguieta at the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, where he was performing his memorable show Lost in Pronunciation. Having moved to Australia just two years prior to that, his clever routine focused on his insights into Australian culture and humour. Since then, Ivan has gone from strength to strength, with multiple TV appearances to his credit. He won the Best Newcomer at the Sydney Comedy Festival in 2016, and Lost in Pronunciation has gone on to become an online ABC sitcom.
Comedian Ivan Aristeguieta hosts live cooking shows in his 'About this Much LIVE' series
When I heard Ivan was running a series of online cooking classes, billed About This Much LIVE, I was intrigued. We've all heard of people and businesses that have 'pivoted' in these COVID times, but comedy to cooking? Was that a bridge too far?
However, a little research revealed that Ivan has hidden talents. Not only is he a trained cook, he is also a food technologist and a brewer. Ivan is, as he puts it, "a loud and proud food nerd". He is skilled in Latino and European cooking, but is also obsessed with Japanese cuisine.
My partner Dave and I recently participated in one of Ivan's sessions, titled Mexican-ish Part Tres. Starting at 7pm on a Saturday night, the idea is to cook your dinner, then eat it. An ingredient list was emailed ahead of time.
Ingredients purchased ahead of time based on the list provided
I don't know quite what I was expecting, but certainly, the number of participants (ie home cooks) in the session was far greater than I might have thought, and also, it was clear there were quite a few regulars in the group. Many got into the spirit of the night, wearing sombreros throughout.
To make sure we were all fairly quickly into the spirit of things, the first 'recipe' to be executed was a round of margaritas. Incorporating just the right quantities of tequila, Grand Marnier or Cointreau, plus fresh lime juice, measured out in - not a jigger but a saké cup - Ivan's tip was to rim the glass in sugar rather than the traditional salt. Delicious!
Before we were too affected by the margaritas, we were onto the first dish - a lovely fresh pico de gallo to go with the corn chips. It was a quick, easy and tasty starter.
Fresh, flavoursome pico de gallo for first course. (Ivan via Zoom in the background.)
In the meantime, we were boiling kettles to fill a saucepan with water and then putting corn cobs on to boil. The corn was then pan fried to get a bit of a colour on it. To serve, the corn was smeared with mayonnaise, optional butter, and then sprinkled with a spicy rub we also prepared along the way and some parmesan cheese. The result? The best corn EVER! It was delicious.
The best corn EVER!
The final dish was enchiladas. To save a little time, we'd been instructed to buy a roast chicken, and corn tortillas. We made a beautiful salsa roja ('red sauce') which included some ingredients I've never used before such as roasted red peppers and chipotle chillies. The corn tortillas had to be pan fried until they bubbled before they were wrapped around shredded chicken, and baked in the oven along with the salsa roja and shredded cheese.
Enchiladas straight out of the oven - yum!
The enchiladas were finished with a dash of cream and some diced avocado. I was well and truly ready for some food by this stage! And the enchiladas tasted as good as they looked.
There was a lot to like about this session. It was lots of fun, Ivan kept the laughs coming, and we ended up with super tasty dishes which we happily consumed.
During the short breaks between courses, the video would go to other participants, to check in on their dishes, or, at one stage, to do a Mexican wave! We loved the sneak peaks into other people's kitchens.
We would happily recommend these sessions, and plan to get involved again in the future.
I will say that the session was quite fast paced. I was literally running from one task to the next to keep up, and trying to sneak a bit of food along the way. It was fine; just don't expect something that is super laid back and relaxed.
This clip will give you an idea of what it's like to participate in one of Ivan's cooking classes:
The next fun cooking night with Ivan is a Halloween themed night at 7pm on (you guessed it!) 31st October. Fancy dress is mandatory! Or at least a few fake (or real) cobwebs. Get into the spirit of spooky Halloween as you cook gouged eyeballs, bloody spaghetti and more! Tickets are $20 for one person, $30 for a household (one device). Note you will be sent an ingredient list ahead of the session.
Click here for more information and to buy your tickets online. Keep an eye out for other upcoming cooking sessions on Ivan's website, or on his Facebook page.