A day at Dundee Cooking Academy

Thursday 24 March 2022
Post in collaboration with Visit Dundee

Dundee Cooking Academy provides a fantastic cookery class experience from start to finish. A brilliant professional set up yet relaxed and fun and suitable for all levels. You'll have an interesting and informative day producing fab food and picking up loads of clever tips and tricks along the way. Expert tuition from Lewis Donegan combined with plenty of refreshments make it well worth a trip from Aberdeen.

I'm regularly asked about cookery classes in Aberdeen but unfortunately there are very limited options currently available. However there is now a solution that's just over an hour down the road in the city of Jute, Jam and Journalism. Dundee Cooking Academy has been on my radar for a wee while now, they opened in October 2019 but like so many businesses their operation has been curtailed by lockdowns. So when Visit Dundee invited me on a press trip to the city which would include a cookery class with them I jumped at the opportunity.

On perusing the sessions on the Dundee Cooking Academy Website I was impressed by the wide range of classes on offer for one, two or three course sessions. These cover international cuisines such as Greek, Thai, Italian, Turkish, Spanish, Indian, Middle Eastern and more. There are also classes covering topics such as steak, pasta making, venison, seafood, risotto, sushi, chicken and kids classes. I was less impressed when it came to availability as so many of the classes were already sold out. However, this only proves testament to their popularity and also reflects the fact they they are working their way through a backlog of rescheduled cancellations and gift vouchers.

I was booked on an three course 'Ultimate Roast Dinner' class which costs £120. To be honest it wouldn't have been my first choice of session but the timings and availability worked for my press trip schedule. Only 50 minutes on the train for me from Stonehaven to Dundee and the Cooking Academy is right in the centre of town about a 10 minute walk from the station. Stepping in the door just before the 11am start time I was handed a large glass of wine - this was going to be a good day out!

Our tutor was the charismatic Dundee born and bred, Lewis Donegal. In spite only looking 15, he reassured us on numerous occasions that he's had 19 years as a chef. Those who have previously attended cookschool in Aberdeen may recognise him from his time there. He also tried his hand on Masterchef the Professionals. Lewis currently teaches all the classes at Dundee Cooking Academy - with the exception of the 'Boss Chef Amelia Rose' classes which are hosted by his 7 year old daughter. She is obsessed by the fact that her Daddy is a chef and Lewis spent a lot of time during lockdown teaching her. These sessions are for 1 parent/carer and 1 child to attend together. The ideal way to inspire and develop a love of food and cooking from a young age. 

Ultimate Roast Dinner - Class Overview - 3 course session - £120
Spend a day in the Cooking Academy learning all the tricks to create a ‘stress free’ Sunday Roast Dinner. Learn to prepare the ultimate roast beef, beautiful roast tatties, honey roast roots with lashings of gravy. To accompany, we will show you our lentil and sweet chilli soup and our amazing sticky toffee pudding with brandy caramel to finish.

There were reduced numbers in our session due to covid casualties but the usual class size is 8 people which makes for an intimate and relaxed experience with lots of opportunity to ask questions. We kicked off with a tour of the building both upstairs in the cooking academy and downstairs which houses the kitchen and Howff Secret Supper Club. The supper club is another sold out success purely on word of mouth with many dates fully booked before the menu is even announced. The Howff is an historic burial ground in the centre of Dundee which the cooking academy backs on to.

Back upstairs we donned our aprons and watched our first demo to learn the knife skills we'd need to make Lentil and Sweet Chilli Soup. Throughout the day we picked up loads of clever tips and tricks along the way (although I did have to show Lewis how to open an Oxo cube properly). Having made our soup and got started on our roast beef and veg we headed back down to eat in The Howff dining room.

We cooked on induction which Lewis enthused about. When he retires as a chef he could easily become an induction hob salesman! I cook on induction at home and picked up lots of advice on controlling temperature, pans, dancing marbles and throwing away anything non stick! Moving onto the roast tatties and veg we used a somewhat unorthodox method and a secret ingredient to cook them. We were all a bit skeptical but it absolutely worked and I've recreated it since at home with great success. (All the recipes are emailed to you after the class)

When it came to dessert we cooked our sticky toffee pudding and Lewis demonstrated the brandy sauce. This was clearly due to the fact that we had consumed so much wine by this point that we weren't to be trusted with boiling hot sugar! After eating all three courses there was still plenty food left to take home. I thought that I'd miss out as I wasn't going straight home however the guys are happy to keep it in their fridge overnight and I duly collected it next day before heading to my train.

The whole day was fabulous from start to finish. Relaxed, fun, interesting and informative. A professional set up both when watching the demo and at each individual cooking station. Everything measured out for you and all the dishes washed afterwards - what's not to like? I'll definitely be back for another class and I'm also now desperate to secure a coveted table at The Howff Secret Supper Club. Overall it was my best cook school experience by a long shot - and I promise that's not just the wine talking!

Availability at Dundee Cooking Academy is very limited up until the end of June 2022 however they will soon be releasing class dates up until the end of December so keep an eye on their website and social media for announcements.

Disclosure: I visited Dundee and Dundee Cooking Academy as a guest of Visit Dundee.
As always, all views expressed are my own.
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