Just wondering if you’ve heard of The Secret Jozi Chef? He’s Paul Maciel, creator of Pronto Restaurant, now creator of The Cookery in his delightful secret kitchen garden space under Pronto restaurant in Craighall Park. Paul decided to follow his passion for writing and teaching about food, so sold Pronto to give his full attention to this new venture. The Kitchen is where cooking classes happen, where special events like team building or parties happen, in a kitchen that most of us would die for, or rather live for! Emilio Cocchia (Milo to his friends) is the Schools venue manager and passionate not only about food but the way enjoying food connects people. Paul’s love of food is obvious and it is clear that he doesn’t think of food as mere combinations of ingredients. Paul wants to invoke emotions and memories when he creates a dish.
I took a friend to The Spring Kitchen on Tuesday evening. This class promised to teach how to cook delicious food using the freshest of spring vegetables and good food. An evening class from 6.30 – 9.30. (The themes keep changing, enticing one to keep returning!) Paul and Milo welcome everyone with a glass of wine and a hug – its that kind of place where you feel at home as you step into their space.. It would be totally ok to have gone alone. Sure there are couples and groups, but after a glass or two, everyone is on easy terms.
I so enjoyed the Tuesday evening, that I immediately signed up Rob (husband) and Tammy (daughter-in-law) for the Sunday brunch class. If Tuesday was fun, this was possibly even more so – aided by bottomless glasses of bubbles.
Paul and Milo make cooking and enjoyment happen effortlessly. Choose one of the 5 stations with recipes that appeal to you, and stake your claim around this. Paul and Milo run around and I mean run around (they claim to clock up 12km each day doing this) helping each group at a station prepare, and share the best tips – from cutting onions, crushing garlic to making pastry. The group made 15 dishes at The Sunday brunch class – from delicious pancakes, frittatas, different egg dishes to breads and of course muffins and scones with flair.
At our station we cooked poached eggs in a spicy tomato base… topped with crumbled feta cheese
This was me getting my fingers feta cheesed..
I thought making this kind of bread was much too difficult, but cant wait to try it now, thanks to the tips shared by Paul and Milo…a fritata on the hob, waiting to go into the oven to finish it off
Paul said he often joins the plait in a circle…we made two flavours, one was a sweet bread with cinnamon and the other a savoury, my favourite.
At the end of the class, you get to help yourself from all the meals, and sit down with a bunch of strangers who now have become friends, enjoying a feast fit for a king or queen.
The next time you stay at Amanzi, ask for scrambled eggs with mushroom sauce a la The Cookery School, or a fritata, or something new… we’ll do our best to replicate what we learnt, adding that extra zing into something quite simple!