A cooking class is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m a woman who loves steak, loves learning, and who doesn’t want to learn to recreate something they love? Whether you’re going alone or with friends, it’s easy find your flow in the cooking school at The Grand, because your under the guidance of some wonderful chefs. Leading our evening was Andrew Dixon, whose calm demeanour made it easy to relax, and then there was the menu (which felt almost like a challenge) ‘The Perfect Steak’.
The perfect steak… that’s a tough ask, something that a lot of restaurants seem to have trouble with, so how on earth could a cohort of admittedly enthusiastic amateurs compare? Personally, I think we fared pretty well, under the careful tutelage of Andrew and the watchful eyes of his team all things became possible. Or, more accurately, the moment we encountered trouble a skilled hand was able to jump in and save our dishes.
After an initial introduction to our menu for the evening and with a glass of wine in hand we sat down in front of the lead station and learned how to prepare our sides. Portobello mushrooms and cherry tomatoes on the vine were cooked quickly in front of our eyes and we watched with mild trepidation at the very idea of trying to emulate Andrew’s skilled work. Before we knew it, it was our turn, and we returned to our stations that were now filled with fresh ingredients and the most modern of hobs. Great British Bake Off fans will recognise the clean swoosh of the oven door, though it wasn’t something we used in our class.
All of the equipment we encountered across the night was exceptional. Nothing was needlessly fancy, but clearly there is no expenses spared or corners cut. A heavy based saucepan and a griddle and away we went. For the novices in the kitchen there was no overly intimidating tools, and for the more experienced hands there was a real sign of care.
After peeling and chopping our potatoes, a parboil and drain had us halfway towards perfect chips! The idea of cooking a steak didn’t phase me, but triple cooked chips could have stopped me in my tracks. With this done we seasoned and seared the tomatoes and mushrooms, and returned to the head bench to learn our next steps.
It turns out that in cooking, as in life, things can come together quickly! In the second half of our class we discovered that you don’t need a deep fryer to create chip heaven, and that a thermometer can help you get your steak just right. I won’t give away all of the night’s secrets, but I will share that a steak is rare when it reaches 35-40 degrees celsius in the centre… Yet again, with wine topped up, it was time to return to our stations, and our large saucepans had disappeared in favour of a wok.
Who ever imagined that you could cook perfect chips in a wok of all things? Certainly not us! But two separate rounds of frying in a wok (have we said how impressed we were about the wok?) and there were perfect chips that we had cooked ourselves.
The steaks were actually the easiest element to prepare. The ability to immediately check on the progress of our sirloins with a quick stab of a thermometer made it possible to relax. Unlike our other elements where we needed to judge by eye, here we could just trust the temperature reading.
When it was all done we filled our plates with our perfect steaks and headed to the large communal dining room just outside of the kitchen. A family style meal gave us chance to compare our handiwork, and be impressed by each other and ourselves.
There’s a sense of pride cutting into something you’ve hand made, and it’s a real confidence builder for anyone who’s nervous about attempting a restaurant style dish. Alone, with friends, on a first date… this is a great way to spend a night, and we can’t wait to go back.