I am currently working with Shola on a series of home cooking workshops. Shola is a broadcast journalist and mother of three. She loves eating out and exploring new tastes and flavours – whether that be street food or gastronomic experiences. She has increasingy been entertaining at home but doesn’t feel she has enough in her repertoire so we’ve been working on practical ways of addressing this.

I sent someone to interview Shola after one of our workshops and these were her answers:

What’s your family’s relationship to food?

My kids are pretty good eaters and are usually keen to try new things. We also love watching shows like masterchef together as a family, so they are becoming quite knowledgeable about different cuisines. They are also becoming quite critical of my cooking too!! I’m keen to expand my cooking skills and learn new techniques to elevate the quality of the meals I make.

How have you found these workshops so far?

I loved our first workshop making home-made pasta and ravioli. Especially learning how to make seafood stock – it was AMAZING! And we used that stock to enhance the filling of the prawn ravioli and to make a simple but delicious wine-based seafood sauce. We then had a baking class, where Dani showed me how to get the most of my thermomix. We made crème Anglaise and crème brulee. We also made various pastries including a tarte -tartin which the kids loved. I am really looking forward to our next class, which is going to be sous vide cooking.

What is it you liked about your experience of doing a workshop with Dani?

Dani was very easy going, explaining a lot as he cooked. He had a smile and an answer for the hundreds of questions I fired at him. He showed me lots of little techniques for working faster in the kitchen e.g the quickest way to peel garlic. And after he demonstrated what to do, he stepped aside and let me take over. I also liked that Dani was not really a stickler for recipes. Sure he taught me some fundamental principles but then encouraged me to experiment with my own flavour combinations, rather than restrict myself to recipes. 3 hours flew by pretty quickly but the learning continues long after the lesson!

What do you think of Dani as a teacher?

I think the best thing about cooking with Dani is that it hardly feels like a class at all, more like making a meal with an old friend. We had great conversations about food and life and everything in between. He’s clearly very talented, with tons of experience but unpretentious too. That’s important, because as a student I felt very relaxed in his company and I was made to feel that nothing I did was a real mistake. Cooking with Dani was just a lot of fun and the joy he gets out of it is infectious.

Why is home cooking important, in your view?

I think in this day and age, with the rise in obesity and diabetes, it’s just really important to eat healthy. I do understand why people with busy lives eat so much processed food. After a hard day at work people want to come home and throw something in the oven or microwave because it’s easy. But home cooking can be easy too when well planned. It’s also a great way to bond as a family. There’s nothing better for me than sitting round the table, eating something that I’ve prepared, sometimes with the help of my kids. I feel a great responsibility to teach them about the relationship between diet and health so that when they are adults they will hopefully continue to make good decisions about what they eat. I also despair about food waste, and feel that in some way home cooking allows me to be a more responsible citizen. In that way Dani was an inspiration. He recycles everything, turning food waste into compost for his garden, which will eventually allow something beautiful to grow, that you or I can sample in one of his inventive dishes!

What’s your favourite ingredient?

That’s easy. Eggs! I love them cooked every way. It’s the most versatile ingredient that you can eat at any time of day and tastes good with absolutely everything. It’s super healthy and the best thing to eat when you’re in a hurry, which I always seem to be!


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