Be prepared to get your hands dirty and cook a seafood dish
Signing up for a Spanish cooking class at the Sydney Seafood School, thoughts of delicious tapas and paella came to mind. However, yanking the digestive tract in one piece from a king prawn and scraping the innards of a black ink covered cuttlefish wasn't necessarily everyone's cup of sangria.
Located on the first floor of the Sydney Fish Market, the Sydney Seafood School has undergone a transformation in 2009. In anticipation of the cooking demonstration, we took our seats in a lecture theatre, complete with flip top desks and 4x46 inch LCD screens for an uninterrupted view of the kitchen bench top. The detail of the Icelandic fish leather lining the walls sets the scene for an evening in the kitchen with a bunch of strangers.
Crabs were dissected and prawns prepped for frying. Onion and garlic was chopped. Faces of intense concentration as the cuttlefish was gutted, hood removed and sliced before being added to the seafood paella. Paper towels become your new best friend during this cooking class. The smells are out of this world and being hungry means rumbling tummies, salivating mouths during the demo. Our presenter, Julie Ray was entertaining as she provided interesting stories (ask about the apprentice and the kilo of chilli) and tips for cooking seafood.
Heading into the hands on room, no expense has been spared with custom made stainless steel cooking islands, Fisher & Paykel appliances and blackboard graffiti adorning the walls.
Placed into groups of 4-5, I was with a couple and single older gentleman. Making small talk around the cooking stations, I discovered that the wife of the couple was Italian from a small town of Linguglossa, Sicily which I had pleasure of travelling to and exploring a couple of years ago. Such a small world! As we followed the recipe, chatted, created our dishes of garlic prawns, ensalada de pimiento, fried whiting (as sardines weren't available) and channelled our inner Masterchef, we smeared and presented our dishes ready for judging.
The number at the workstation allocates to your table in the beautifully decorated dining room, featuring a photomural of Blackwattle Bay and fishnet chandeliers with over 6000 lightbulbs designed by Michael McCann. This sets a lovely ambience and with a few glasses of Prosecco, we enjoyed our delicious meal that we created before realising that it was getting rather late into the night. Lindt chocolate balls and Nespresso coffee machines finish the night perfectly with newly found friends.
On offer to purchase is the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook filled with recipes from Australian chefs that are demonstrated at the cooking school including step by step photos. This cookbook will have you drooling at pages of delicious food. The classes that are sold out very quickly are those by Australian chefs including Alessandro Pavoni (Ormeggio at the Spit), Frank Camorra (Movida), Matt Moran (Aria) just to name a few.
The cooking class is a great place for people from all walks of life, suitable for couples, friends and singles (like myself for the evening) and I found that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I did pick up a few tricks and tips, and will be trying out the Spanish recipes on friends soon enough.