I admit that the range of family meals that I serve up week after week has become a little ‘samey’. It’s one of my resolutions to be more adventurous in the kitchen and try out a new dish more often but the truth is, I’ve never really properly learnt the basics of how to cook.
Yes, I can follow a recipe and it usually tastes fine. However I lack a natural flair and confidence for cooking, something that others have and I’m envious of. How nice to be able to create a really delicious meal where people savour every last mouthful.
If you feel like me, then you may be interested to know that Chef Martin Burke now offers cookery classes at his premises in Hitchin. Martin is one of Hitchin’s most respected chefs, and specialises in vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Intrigued to find out more, we spoke to Martin to discover what culinary skills we could learn from him.
Who inspired you to become a chef?
My mum. She’s from Ireland and has something of the ‘Mrs Doyle’ from Father Ted about her – she’s a feeder!
Have you always cooked vegetarian and vegan food, or was there a turning point when you decided to go meat free?
My cooking history was very meat and fish-driven until about three years ago. I’ve worked in the kitchens of some of London’s most renowned restaurants – The Wolesely, Soho House, Smiths of Smithfield – but when researching the environmental impact of such cuisine my compulsion to continue was lifted. I rarely even think of a bacon sandwich anymore.
Are your classes suitable for beginners?
My cookery classes are varied. Absolute beginners can do a full seven-hour day, or three shorter classes over three weeks. Students will learn about knife skills, produce preparation, stocks, soups, main meals, thrifty cooking, and above all, the golden rules and base recipes that can be used in many dishes.
There are also more specialised three-hour classes, focusing on the cuisine of a particular country or region. I’m also starting classes on gluten-free cooking, veganism, and more!
Most importantly, each class culminates in tasty food to take home.
How would you encourage our mums who may lack confidence to try new things in the kitchen?
Take it one step at a time. Learn a basic stock or white sauce recipe and before you know it, a new horizon emerges.
What kind of food do you create during the class?
If you attend the beginners class, you will be able to create a three-course meal from scratch that is adaptable to taste, budgets and dietary requirements. I hope that all my students will leave with the skills to present a romantic meal for two, or a quick, nutritious meal for a gaggle of hungry kids.
When are your classes and how much do they cost?
The beginners class runs on three concurrent Tuesdays, either from 11.30am-2pm, or in the evenings from 7-9.30pm.
There is also a full day course from 10am-5pm on some Saturdays. The next one is running on 4 February.
These classes cost £120 and take place at my premises in Hitchin.
Three-hour specialty classes are available for £50. Please get in touch with me to find out the details for upcoming sessions.
How can we book a place?
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more
If you’d like more information on Chef Martin Burke, you can visit his website here.
Special offer for Mums Off Duty readers
Martin has very kindly offered a 10% discount on his cookery classes for our Mums Off Duty readers. To be eligible for this offer, please join our group on Facebook by liking and following our page, and then quote ‘Mums Off Duty’ when booking your class with Martin.
Tell us how you get on
If you’ve been inspired to book on to one of Martin’s cookery classes, we’d love to hear all about it. Please let us know in the comments below.