Demuths Cookery School Asian Street Food Class - Bath
On Sunday, I visited a place of culinary magic in the heart of Bath...
Demuths Cookery School, founded by one of the country's leading plant-based chef's Rachel Demuth, offers exciting and innovative vegan and vegetarian courses for students with a passion to learn or improve their cookery skills. Prior to establishing the cookery school (which I may add, enjoys wonderful views over Bath's pleasure grounds; Parade Gardens, as well as the magnificent Bath Abbey), Rachel owned award-winning Demuths Restaurant, which opened its doors in 1987. After 26 successful years of flying the flag for contemporary vegan and vegetarian cuisine, Rachel sold her bistro to her former head chef, Richard Buckley. From 2013 onwards, under its new ownership, the restaurant was renamed Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen. As an aside, I'd highly recommend booking a table if you haven't dined there already, the food is excellent and very well executed.
Rachel's cookery school, which resides in a former Georgian townhouse on Terrace Walk, has built an esteemed reputation, attracting students the world over (a lady on our course had travelled all the way from Scandinavia!). So, as you can imagine, when I received an invitation in my inbox last month to attend an Asian Street Food cookery class, I couldn't wait to don my apron!
*Before I begin, I just want to make it clear that I will refrain from sharing any of the finer details on how we prepared each recipe and what ingredients you require. I do not wish to spoil any surprises for those of you who may have signed up to, or, plan to book the Asian Street Food class in the future. Rather, the aim of my post is to give you a flavour of the day...
Arriving just before 10am last Sunday, I joined a fully booked class for tea, biscuits and a warm welcome by Rachel. After introductions and a brief history of the school had been shared with us, we were taken to the smartly appointed, purpose-built kitchen downstairs, where we met our tutor chefs for the day, Helen and Jo.
Helen joined Demuths Cookery School 8 years ago, prior to which she was Head Chef at Demuths Restaurant. Jo first started working for Demuths ~25 years ago, then, after a sabbatical and having children, she became Head Chef at the restaurant - a post she filled for some time before teaching at Rachel's cookery school too.
A taste of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia awaited us, and our culinary journey commenced in far warmer, exotic climes than that of Bath. To Thailand we went, for Pad Thai of course!
The art of Thai cooking, we were told, is to prepare all of the ingredients in advance. Cutting the vegetables into small pieces is crucial for this dish, because as soon as they hit the hot pan, the stir frying will be fast and furious!
We were assembled into small groups, according to our spice tolerance (mild, medium or hot). Then we watched on as Helen taught us how to create the dish from scratch...
Then it was our turn...
I opted for the 'mild' camp and was joined by two lovely ladies, one of whom was celebrating her 21st birthday with her Mum. What a wonderful, memorable way to spend such a momentous day, I thought.
After our Pad Thai had been prepared in our groups, we had the fun of taste testing them - as with all the dishes throughout the day.
I will certainly enjoy recreating this dish at home - the freshest, most vibrant of ingredients were used, all bursting with flavour, texture and colour.
Refuelled by our tasty brunch, it was time to get back to our work stations and prepare the following dish:
Vietnamese Spring Rolls - Why have I never created these before?! It was a bit of a revelation to discover just how easy and fast they are to assemble. Perfect for a quick lunch or as a starter that will wow your next dinner party guests! If you have never wrapped a spring roll at home before (me neither!), then you simply must!
I don't want to give too much away, but I will mention that if you choose your favourite veg, fresh herbs and glass noodles (i.e sliced cucumber, carrots, peppers, the leaves of mint and coriander, plus a couple of lettuce leaves) and add a touch of sweetness with some fruit, such as sliced mango, you have the makings of a delicious spring roll.
Just place the ingredients onto rice paper (which you rehydrate in water just beforehand) then fold and roll up tightly over the filling, et voila! Just a hint; place the lettuce leaf down first and neatly top with the rest of the ingredients.
Now, these Vietnamese Spring Rolls require two partners in crime. So, let me introduce another two recipes; Peanut Satay Sauce and Shoyu Dipping Sauce, which we were informed, is Demuths vegetarian take on a famous Vietnamese fish sauce dip called 'Nước Mắm'.
The Peanut Satay Sauce was a firm favourite of mine.
I'd slather it over everything if I could!
Next, we turned our attention to Satay Tempeh, which we marinated in the homemade Shoyu Dipping Sauce. Once fried, the dish was served alongside the Peanut Satay Sauce too.
By mid-afternoon, we had all worked up quite the appetite again. So it was time to sit down and enjoy the food we had prepared thus far. Alongside a glass of bubbles - cheers!
During the latter part of the course, we focused our efforts on fashioning up a feast which we were to enjoy at the end of the day. First up, an Aubergine Rendang Curry...
Our curry packed a mild to medium punch, just as we had hoped - it reminded me of the curries I tried whilst in India last year, entirely authentic and earthy - no lurid yellow insight!
For dessert, we were treated to a Black Rice Pudding with Chilli and Mango.
So deliciously moreish, my taste buds were dancing for joy!
Demuths Cookery School runs a great selection of vegetarian and vegan courses, suitable for beginners to accomplished cooks. You can choose from full or half day courses, evening workshops, masterclasses or even a Demuths Vegetarian Diploma. Take a look here.
It'll come as no surprise that I thoroughly recommend heading over to Demuths Cookery School! I had a fantastic time on the course, I enjoyed meeting like-minded people, sampling fabulous foods, whilst scooping up a plethora of new cookery skills along the way.
Now, time to hit the supermarket with my shopping list...
I'd like to personally say a huge thank you to Rachel, Helen, Jo and Georgia for giving me the opportunity to experience what the world of Demuths Cookery School has to offer. I can't wait to return!