If you've been following my posts this week, you'll see that I did a fair amount of eating out last week in Vancouver and Victoria.‚ But I had no idea I would actually be cooking on this vacation.‚ Like The Chopping Block in Chicago, The Dirty Apron Cooking School offers a series of hands-on classes throughout the year, and their school is conveniently located downtown, just a few blocks from Chinatown.‚ We signed up for the "Mama Mia" class while we were in town, which featured a three-course meal that all of us - my wife and two kids included - would have to prepare ourselves.
Our instructor - Takashi - was a real pro.‚ He kept all 20 or so of us engaged, showing us exactly how we were going to approach each course before we actually hit the stoves to do it.‚ A panna cotta was a snap, and we got it into the refrigerator right off the top of the class, so it would be ready to eat at the end.‚ A ravioli course seemed daunting at first, but my daughter and I loved rolling out our dough, feeding it through the pasta machine and forming little domes over our filling of goat cheese and arugula.‚ Making a brown butter-walnut sauce was even easier, thanks to all of the prep and pre-measuring the staff had done for us.‚ In between courses, we would walk over to a spacious dining room at a communal table and share war stories.
The lamb sirloin with a morel-red wine sauce was a snap - again, thanks to handy prepping and mise en place by the staff - and my 12 year-old seemed utterly impressed with herself that she could plate her final course like a pro.‚ The school not only preps and cleans up everything for you, but they also provide you with top-notch equipment, thanks to partnerships with All Clad cookware, Wusthof knives, Wolf ranges, and Sub Zero fridges.‚ The school is a joint venture between Karri and Nico Schuermans and former Chambar Sous-Chef David Robertson. David's background is in classic French cuisine and teaches the majority of the classes, with guest and celebrity chef appearances scattered throughout the year.‚ I wouldn't hesitate to return for another class, although parents take note: classes run about four hours, so it's not for every kid.‚ They do offer some kid's classes though, so best to check their calendar.
Dirty Apron Cooking School 540 Beatty Street Vancouver, BC V6B 2L3 604-879-8588 www.dirtyapron.com