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BRUSH UP YOUR CULINARY SKILLS AT DIVERTIMENTI’S COOKERY SCHOOL

BRUSH UP YOUR CULINARY SKILLS AT DIVERTIMENTI’S COOKERY SCHOOL

When I was offered a choice of courses at Divertimenti’s Cookery School there was one that instantly stood out to me; their ‘Fuss Free Fish’ class. I love all things fish and seafood-related but I don’t buy it nearly enough to cook at home, so I signed up in the hope of (casting my net so-to-speak) outside of my usual culinary repertoire.

Upon arrival I was joined by nine like-minded people who had all raced from work to join the evening class, spending the next three hours perfecting fish dishes that were claimed to be ‘ simple, wholesome and full of flavour to rejuvenate your week night dining’.

It was an enticing claim and one that I could tell had drawn each of the nine expectant faces there, all sat on chairs and peering expectantly over the cooking area. We were all asked about which types of fish we liked and as it came to my turn and I had started a process of alphabetizing fish varieties (intensified by the elaborate types given by other members of the group). The lady next to me confessed to loving all fish but wanted to extend her culinary skills. Perfect-that’s what I really wanted to say. We immediately bonded. Next up; we were to watch a demonstration and ask questions before we started to cook ourselves.

Cooking ourselves? I wasn’t quite sure how the course was devised but now I knew I spent the next 20 minutes watching our tutor Ursula Ferrigno, cooking sea bass whilst furiously scribbling notes for preparing the dishes for the evening. Her infectious laughter and love for cooking, peppered with anecdotes inspired from her Italian upbringing was a brilliant preparation for what lay ahead.

I soon ended up around a wooden table in a group with two rather glamorous ladies and immediately bonded over our love of Brixton Market and the obligatory glass of wine over cooking. We had Ursula and her lovely assistant Charlotte, who runs her own catering company, helping where needed and we finished the evening sitting around the table eating our fare and chatting about what recipes we were going to cook at home. There was even talk about doing another class-I have got my eye on the knife skill class and I have a feeling I will be seeing a few familiar faces there too.

What we cooked:

  • Beetroot Pasta Stuffed with Radicchio, Sea Bream, Red Onion & Thyme with a Pine Nut, Sage & Butter Sauce
  • Seafood Fennel & Lime Salad
  • Frutti Di Mare Risotto
  • Spigola ‘Al Sale’ (Sea bass with salt)

Top 4 things I learn’t from the course:

  • When buying fish look for bright eyes, pink gills and a good smell
  • Make friends with your local fishmonger and try to avoid supermarket buys. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what’s in season, how to cook it or even to get your chosen fish gutted to save time for you at home.
  • Never buy fish on Monday as fishing never takes place on Sundays, it will mean it will never be as fresh as other days of the week
  • Keep it simple and fresh-don’t feel the need to adorn your fish with too much-its best (and healthier) cooked in its own juices. Cooking fish such as Sea Bass stuffed with slices of lemon and parsley (including stalks) stuffed into its gills and covered in rock salt is all you need-and trust me it will be absolutely delicious.

Book yourself a place on Divertiment’s Cookery School, and have a look at more delicious fish recipes and our six best cookery courses at hotels.

By Sarah Keady, Red's living editor.

See her full blog here.

HG Walter - The Family Butcher (25.07.13)

HG Walter - The Family Butcher

Having taken on the role of Kitchen Manager late last year it has become my job to ensure that all of the ingredients are here at the Divertimenti kitchens for the start of each class. I take great pride in the quality of all of the produce that is supplied to us everyday and really want to be able to tell our students about the traceability of our goods as well as being able to fulfil the requests of all of our teachers and their amazing recipes. Everyday I speak to our various suppliers but I have yet to put faces to these voices so have decided that it is about time to get out and about in London and meet these fantastic people. First on my list is our butcher – HG Walters. I have been constantly impressed by the quality of our meat and the wide variety of produce that they have been able to supply us with and as for their sausages well they have to be some of the best in London.

Armed with a map, camera and list of questions off Gloria and I set riding the tube to Barons Court. How silly we were to think we would need a map as, as you leave the station you really cant miss the traditional blue awnings and the inviting looking glass fronted shop.

HG Walter - The Family Butcher

Immediately we were greeted by Adam and Claire whose father established the business some 35 years ago but still to this day takes a very large role in the day to day goings on. Adams knowledge is vast from the different cuts of meat to the farms where everything comes from as well as just about every customers first name. Both Adam and Claire worked with us through the whole counter explaining the benefits of the different types of chicken they sell, where the onglet is on the cow oppose to the bavette, the argument on veal and finally the secret to those highly sought after sausages. Claire invited us down stairs where we donned the traditional white butchers jackets and in to the fridges we roamed. There is so much to take in I didn’t know where to look from ½ lambs ageing that from their label we could tell had just been running around the fields 5 days previously, buckets of offal and then piles of bones all set for stock. Absolutely nothing is wasted and from watching the boys work you can see how much skill is needed to take the meat off from the bones so cleanly. Onto another cool room, Claire explained how important the humidity was in ageing the beef and we could clearly see the different stages that each of these carcasses were at. HG Walter - The Family ButcherUp the secret side stair case we then travelled to discover that not only is HG Walters a butcher but they have a kitchen on site which is constantly on the go making stocks, scotch eggs and shepherds pies which are all for sale downstairs.

Through out our visit I was constantly astounded by the way that almost everyone was greeted on a first name basis and what an amazing business that has developed whilst keeping it very much within the family. It is now with great pleasure that I have been telling the rest of our staff about our butcher, encouraging them along with the students to shop there and don’t forget you can also pick up your fruit, vegetables, cheese and a selection of cupboard ingredients whilst you are there.

By Samantha Harvey

Indian Vegetarian with Monisha Bharadwaj (23.05.13) - Marylebone London Review

Indian Vegetarian with Monisha Bharadwaj

In 1963, Divertimenti setup shop just off Marylebone High Street on Marylebone Lane. This year it celebrates 50 years of being a Marylebone resident (now on the High Street itself) and having grown into one of London’s most popular cookshops with its range of kitchenware and cookware, as well as a cookery school offering a diverse selection of cooking courses for foods from around the world.

There is no question about it – Indian food can seem an overwhelming challenge for even the most experienced of culinary enthusiasts. Fortunately my guidance at Divertimenti’s half day Indian Vegetarian Masterclass came in the form of award winning food writer Monisha Bharadwaj as I attempted to get to grips with Indian cooking.

Along with a class of seven others we were guided by Monisha through our recipes. Together with my teammate for the day, we set to work on our cauliflower rassa, a dish from the Maharashtra region of India. Each hands on step was explained by Monisha as we learnt about the background to the dishes and the spices being used. Elsewhere members of the group were working on other dishes, a few of which included a mushroom korma, baingan massala (an aubergine and tomato curry) and palak paneer (spinach with cottage cheese). Although assigned our own dishes to work on, we were all able to follow each other’s recipes as they took shape, sharing in the cooking whilst Monisha offered guidance.

Indian Vegetarian with Monisha Bharadwaj

As well as the practical help, Monisha shared with us a wealth of knowledge about the culture of the Indian coastal region from which our dishes originated and the how the diversity of foods and styles of cooking across India differ so extensively.

The reward for our work? The opportunity to eat the delicious creation of a meal along with some wine whilst getting to know new friends and talking – mainly about food…

Visit the Divertimenti 50 website to find out more about its 50 years in Marylebone.

By Marylebone London
Congratulations Banner

Divertimenti Cookery School Manager Wins British Cookery School Award

Gloria Ford of Divertimenti winning Best Rising Star Award

Gloria Ford, Divertimenti’s Cookery School Manager, has won Best Young Rising Star at The British Cookery School Awards 2012 (13.11.12).

The awards were held at the prestigious Vintners’ Hall in London and were attended by the top cookery schools in the United Kingdom.

The judging panel, which included BBC Radio 2 food & drink presenter Nigel Barden, selected Gloria over five other finalists.

As Nigel presented the award he lauded Gloria’s commitment to the school both as its manager and as a tutor. From ensuring back office operations run smoothly to being at the front of house and making students feel at ease, Gloria’s involvement in every aspect of the running of the school exudes an enthusiasm that can only come from someone with a genuine passionate for what they do.

Divertimenti’s Sam Harvey was also nominated for an award - Best Unsung Hero. Although she didn’t win, being chosen as a finalist was an achievement in itself and as Gloria’s right hand woman we are proud to have such an accomplished duo at the heart of our cookery school.

Feedback on Chef's Table with Alyn Williams of Alyn Williams at The Westbury

Last night’s Chefs Table with Alyn Williams at Divertimenti (25.10.12) was a unique dining experience with a Michelin Star Chef at the top of his game. His Autumnal menu gave us some bespoke dishes that showed how to get the very best out of UK seasonal produce. Fantastic food and great craic in a relaxed atmosphere. Would thoroughly recommend to anyone, foodie or otherwise. Brilliant way to spend an evening!

P.S Alyns assistant chef and the Divertimenti hosting also get top marks!

Best Regards,
Cameron Renwick

Spanish provincial cooking with Rachel McCormack (03.10.12)

As the programme promised, the weather was perfect for this class: “cold and wet” just like the Galician climate.

Waiting for the class to begin and interacting with my fellow students I was struck by the variety of ages, backgrounds and cooking experiences present in the group. With everyone present and with Rachel having gone through the evening’s schedule we embarked on a culinary journey that was to cumulate in a fiery finale.

We started by dipping an octopus three times in boiling water, following the Galician custom, while sharing our knowledge of Spanish food and listening to Rachel’s fascinating experiences from her 7 years living in northern Spain. Having prepared the potatoes and spices to accompany the octopus our attention turned to the Galician favourite that is Caldo Gallego – a stew that Galicians have fought off the winter chill with for centuries.

With Rachel emphasising the uncomplicated nature of all the day’s dishes it was time to turn our attention to the Rollo de Ternera, a recipe that was to open our minds to combining flavours we wouldn’t usually select. Following this we then placed our hands on our dough to make Empanadas de Atún and it soon became apparent that the class’s expertise were not as technical as Rachel’s. However as beginners, Rachel was quick to point out that this class was just as much an opportunity to explore our preference in regards to tastes and flavours.

Finally it was time for the fire with the Queimada providing a delicious ending to the evening, warming us up as we made our way home with new ideas and tastes to explore, accompanied with a spell to protect the house.

By Felipe Sanchez

A Chef’s Table Evening with Rowley Leigh of Le Café Anglais

A Taste of Britain with Alfred Prasad

I was privileged enough to be able to attend a Chefs Table with Rowley Leigh (12.07.12), hosted by Divertimenti at South Kensington in July. It was an event totally unforgettable by all in attendance.

The evening took place around the magnificent La Cornue island in the basement of the shop. The setup means we were all given the pleasure of being seated extremely close to the action and therefore had the opportunity to chat to this incredibly friendly chef. The atmosphere was relaxed and quite intimate and by the end of the night a considerable amount of banter was going on between guests and Chef.

Upon arrival we were served a glass of Prosecco and once we were all seated, the real star of the night began, the food.

A Taste of Britain with Alfred Prasad

All the dishes were simple but exquisite. Our dinner began with a peach and tomato salad, a traditional Tuscan starter to a summer lunch. The ingredients were an unusual combination for me and something different to anything I had ever tried before. The chargrilled bread that was served alongside completed the dish magically. Following the salad we enjoyed spaghetti cacio e pepe which was a mix of black peppercorns, pecorino romano and spaghetti. It was fascinating to see Rowley’s cooking technique for this dish and it was hard to believe that 3 simple ingredients could taste so good. Our third course was a steamed saddle of lamb with mint. The lamb was cooked to perfection and the smell and taste were just mouthwatering. By now I was beginning to see a pattern in the food with basic ingredients being cooked with a slight twist and coming together to produce an exquisite dish. Dessert was a cherry clafoutis soufflé. By this time I was quite full and well nourished but it did not stop me from indulging, an opportunity to good to be missed!

Throughout the evening we had the pleasure of being served wine to match each course, the Sancerre was my personal favourite. The waiters were extremely friendly, quick to clear plates, refill wine glasses and were even busy assisting Rowley when required.

Rowley Leigh managed to entertain throughout the night and was more than happy to answer any questions any of us had, whether it was about food or not. It was amazing to hear his kitchen tales from over the years as well as his opinion of where the hospitality industry is headed. I can definitely say I feel very privileged to have met Rowley Leigh and to be able to say that I dined with him. I will never forget this evening and will be recommending it to everyone, it was completely extraordinary.

Simply put - the whole experience was truly amazing!

By Melanie Harvey

A Taste of Britain with Alfred Prasad

A Taste of Britain with Alfred Prasad

Divertimenti’s most recent Food is GREAT Britain event (Brompton Road 08.08.12) was just as much a celebration of Britain’s multiculturalism as it was of its cuisine.

The British love for Indian food is well known and when it comes to the finest Indian cuisine available on these isles you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who does it better than Alfred Prasad the Executive Chef of Tamarind in Mayfair.

Tamarind was the first Indian restaurant in Europe to be awarded a Michelin-star - making Alfred the youngest Indian chef at the time to receive such an accolade. It has held this award for the past 12 years.

With such credentials Alfred was the ideal choice to represent the multicultural side of British cuisine to the international journalists and film crews in attendance.

A Taste of Britain with Alfred Prasad

Having served canapés of Smoked Aubergine Pulp with Burnt Red Chilli on Cucumber & Grated Paneer and Spiced Mixed Peppers on Toast accompanied with a glass of Chapel Down wine Alfred then displayed his culinary prowess first hand on our La Cornue demonstration island.

The menu consisted of Papdi Channa Chaat for a starter, followed by a main of Prawn Masala served with Coconut Milk Rice, Fine Beans & Potato and concluded with Pistachio Kulfi, Rhubarb ‘Falooda’ and Saffron Sago.

Alfred was then interviewed by Chinese and Japanese journalists where he shared his views on just what it is about Indian cuisine that makes it so popular with the British public.

Food is GREAT Britain – Afternoon Tea with Flavia Rowse

As part of the government’s Visit Britain initiative Divertimenti was chosen to showcase the best of British cuisine for the Food is GREAT Britain campaign.

The first of these events, Afternoon Tea with Flavia Rowse, was launched at Brompton Road on Wednesday (25th July) and was attended by a number of international journalists looking to experience a true taste of British culture.

In front of television crews from both the United States and China Flavia demonstrated how to make Savoury Muffins, Traditional English Scones with Jam and Cream, the perfect Victorian Sandwich with Passion Fruit and Mascarpone, and Chocolate and Orange Zest Tart. Naturally the sumptuous spread was accompanied with a brew as after all it simply wouldn’t be afternoon tea without the key ingredient.

Flavia was then asked to provide the American viewing public with an insight as to how the tastes of this very British tradition have evolved and of its importance within British culture.

Food is GREAT Britain – Afternoon Tea with Flavia RowseFood is GREAT Britain – Afternoon Tea with Flavia RowseFood is GREAT Britain – Afternoon Tea with Flavia Rowse

Guo Yue at Divertimenti Cookery School

Sushi Made Simple with AtsukoThere are quite a few cooking courses out there for those looking to either learn some basic skills, or for those who feel a huge need to be knock-out in the kitchen. The boy-who-is-a-friend in my life (as opposed to conventional boyfriend) is as passionate about cooking as he is about eating great food. Hitting the big 4-0 and already possessing enough kitchen gadgets to make Nigella’s kitchen look as bare as mother hubbard’s, I have been researching an inspiring culinary course for the birthday boy. He can be a little snobby about ingredients so I quickly realised that there was no choice; it was to be Divertimenti’s Cooking School or nothing.

We had to be at the Brompton Road branch of the superior kitchen shop by 6.30pm. Downstairs is a fully functional kitchen, with at least eight work stations. Guo Yue was our teacher for the evening and, titled The Real Sichuan (10.07.12), we were in for a real treat. Surprisingly, the treat was not solely edible. Discovered by Peter Gabriel, Guo is a musician and chef in equal measure. Growing up in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution, this talented and wonderfully eccentric guru is recognized as both an outstanding soloist on the Chinese bamboo flute, as well as a true master of Chinese cooking.

Sushi Made Simple with AtsukoHe explained how the art of making Jiaozi dumplings demonstrates the love and friendship you feel for your guests. I’d like to pretend that my dumplings (filled with pork, tiger prawns, bamboo, dried mushrooms and Chinese chives with chilli oil) were as good as Birthday Boy’s version, but it was hard to even come close. Within minutes, Guo had recognised his talent and he was officially nominated as Teacher’s Favourite.

Once Guo had shown us just how curiously easy it is to cook his delicious Sichuan Chicken (with red pepper, cucumber, toasted nuts and chilli) and taught us how to make our own hand-made noodles (with beef, red pepper, courgette and sesame seeds), it was time to break open the wine and toast the birthday, our fellow cooking students and our new found skills. Finally it was time for Guo to play his flute as the food sizzled in front of him, before we sat at the communal table to feast on our labours.

By Emma Parlons

An Open Evening with Alex Mackay

An Open Evening with Alex Mackay

Divertimenti marked the start of its Cookery School summer term (Marylebone High Street 17.05.12) with an open evening hosted by Alex Mackay.

The tremendous turnout were rewarded with an incredible array of mouth-watering canapés which included Casey’s Barbeque Glazed Chicken Breast with Corn & Chilli Relish, Mackerel with Chickpea Brandade, Courgettes & Basil, and Roast Aubergine with Glazed Tofu, Fried Broccoli & Chilli to name but a few.

Alex then turned up the heat with an animated and entertaining demonstration showcasing further recipes from his latest book ‘Everybody Everyday’ (Bloomsbury Publishing) – a collection of dishes which focus on transforming those everyday meals that have become the default setting in your culinary repertoire into something inspirational via a few simple ingredient substitutions.

Bringing his book to life Alex served up a number of dishes including Pasta Pilaf Midnight Macaroni Cheese, Salmon with Mushy Peas & Chunky Sunblush Tomato Ketchup, and Hot Popcorn with Pesto & Tapenade. His charm and infectious enthusiasm resonated throughout the demonstration and certainly invigorated his captivated audience to approach their tried and tested meals with a new ardour.

If you wish to experience Alex first hand there are still places left on his sustainable fish demonstration class at Divertimenti Marylebone High Street on 26 June. Call 020 7486 8020 for more details.

Feedback on Knife Skill Class

I attended the Knife Skills class yesterday at Divertimenti and I would just like to feedback to the Cookery school that I thought this class was excellent. I already filled out a feedback form but I would really like to commend Mary on a wonderful and most enjoyable evening in Divertmenti. She is an excellent tutor and has great patience, and a lovely warm manner as well as a great sense of humour. As a previous instructor myself, I know it is not easy to tutor for that length of time non-stop and Mary did a fantastic job. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and feel I really benefited from learning the basic knife skills. In addition, the food was wonderful and it just topped off a very enjoyable, productive evening.

I would be very grateful if you could feed this back to Mary and Elaine who was also an excellent support. I will be highly recommending this class to all my friends and family.

Thank you Sarah

From Tacos to Taqueria

From Tacos to Taqueria with chef Sofia Larrinua-Craxton was my first Divertimenti Cookery School class and a most enjoyable one. Sofia soon put the class at ease and we all worked together like a little family making some wonderful Tacos and Salsas. Sofia was very down to earth, answering all our questions with two very helpful and friendly assistants. A fun filled and enjoyable evening was had by all.

By Tracy Guerrero

Sushi Made Simple with Atsuko

Sushi Made Simple with Atsuko

Our sushi class started with an introduction to cooking rice (the Japanese way), while I have always known it would be a lengthy process it was interesting to learn that sterilising the rice with vinegar (Sushi-zu) kept it pure alongside the fish and using caster sugar, sake & kombu (dried kelp) ensured it was sticky enough to mould together.

Whilst the rice was cooking Atsuko showed us how to make egg rolls (sushi tamago) – a classic! It was very similar to making an omelette and her top tip for cracking eggs was to knock two eggs together leaving one with a cracked shell and the other intact, a simpler way to ensure a swift opening of an egg. Using a square frying pan she impressively showed us how to roll the egg using chopsticks and this method was repeated 4 times before the roll was secured together in a bamboo mat. Definitely something worth trying at home once you get the knack of it.

Sushi Made Simple with Atsuko

Atsuko then demonstrated how to prepare a variety of fillings for the sushi, my personal favourite being the deep fried soft shell crab, but the rib eye beef steak proved to be the most popular with the class as we all got to make our very own temaki (rib-eye steak with Japanese rice, peppery watercress & creamy wasabi sauce wrapped in nori).

We were all then set the challenge of making hosomaki and uramaki (California rolls). At first I had my reservations about how successful I would be at making sushi but Atsuko executed her methods thoroughly and when it came to rolling I immediately knew it was something I could complete in my own time at home. We displayed our creations on a bamboo leaf (taking a few snaps of our work) before sitting down with a glass of wine and discussing the class with Atsuko.

Sushi Made Simple with Atsuko

I’d love to do another class at Divertimenti as we were given plenty of time to learn and make our own dishes. I will definitely take away all the tips I’ve picked up and will enjoy making sushi for friends & family at home.

By Gabriella Sanchez

Book Signing & Demonstration Event by William Curley

William Curley Book Signing William Curley Book Signing William Curley Book Signing

Divertimenti kicked off the start of the new Cookery School term (Marylebone High Street 11.01.12) with renowned chocolatier William Curley showcasing recipes from his newest book Couture Chocolate.

Members of the press and public were treated to sea salt caramels, rosemary & olive oil chocolates and chestnut & sesame brownies in a demonstration that showed why William has been named four time winner of the Best British Chocolatier award by the Academy of Chocolate.

Unsurprisingly a few New Year’s resolutions to abstain from chocolate were broken that evening.

William Curley Cooking Demonstration and Book Signing

You're invited to the late night shopping event with book signing and demonstration by William Curley on:

Wednesday 11th Jan
33-34 Marylebone High Street
7 - 9pm

Join us as we start the new winter Cookery School term with FREE wine tasting with Majestic, petit fours and a cooking demo by William Curley with recipes from his new book Couture Chocolate.

Take advatage of a 10%* shopping discount on the night.

William Curley Cooking Demonstration and Book Signing

The Mince Pie Project Celebrity Chefs
The Mince Pie Project – Launch Party at Divertimenti

Monday (5th December) saw the launch of the Mince Pie Project at Divertimenti in South Kensington.

The project lined up 36 of the UK’s best chefs to each cook an exclusive batch of 50 mince pies to be auctioned off online in support of Action Against Hunger and The Jamie Oliver Foundation. Chefs offering their own unique take on the humble mince pie included Raymond Blanc, Angela Hartnett, Claude Bosi, Fergus Henderson and Adam Byatt.

The Mince Pie Project Winning Bid
The launch party provided the perfect excuse to taste a selection of mince pies from those participating and was attended by a who’s who of celebrity chefs including Michel Roux Jr, Philip Howard, Martin Nisbet and super bakers Eric Lanlard and Edd Kimber.

Among the offerings were mince pie whirls by Philip Howard, Martin Nisbet’s Scottish inspired mince pies made with 18 year old Chivas Regal Whisky and Anna Hansen’s mince pies filled with gin soaked sloe.

If you fancy indulging in mince pies of a Michelin-star calibre while also raising some money for charity, then it’s time to get bidding (we’ve already set our sights on our favourite mince pies from the evening).

Bidding takes place between 9th-16th December and each batch of 50 mince pies will be freshly cooked and couriered on the same day to the winners on the 22nd December. The auction leader board can be followed here (http://themincepieproject.com/auction.html)

The Mince Pie Project The Mince Pie Project The Mince Pie Project

Chef's Table with Tom Kerridge

Chef's Table with Tom Kerridge

I was lucky enough to attend a chef's table with Tom Kerridge recently at Divertimenti Brompton Road. It was my first time at this type of event and I can't recommend it highly enough as the evening exceeded my highest expectations. As well as watching a master at work (and having a chance to participate in creating a side dish) the evening was punctuated with loads of friendly banter as well as brilliant anecdotes from the world of Michelin-starred chefs.

Last but not least, the food was unbelievably fantastic - 4 courses of mouth watering dishes, each one better than the last. The menu was everything I expected from watching Tom's cooking on TV: fabulous ingredients, cooked to perfection. One thing I found particularly useful was learning lots of cooking tips - we were all firing questions at the chef, and as a result we were learning whilst eating.

Chef's Table with Tom Kerridge

As one of the other guests said, why spend a fortune at one of the many London restaurants when you can enjoy an even better meal with the chef himself. I've already scoured the cookery school programme to earmark the forthcoming events I would love to attend and I recommend that you do too! A great night that I will never forget............

By Pauline Wood

Macaroons and More Cookery Class

Macaroon and More

I had already decided that this weekend was going to be a weekend filled with baking. I'd had vague thoughts about attempting to make macaroons and conquering my fear of piping bags and ground almonds but when an email popped into my inbox last week from Divertimenti about a last-minute macaroon class that was being arranged for Sunday, I recognised that this was the hand of fate at work and signed up there and then.

Our teacher, Diane Thuret, started off by demonstrating how to make simple pistachio macaroon shells. What I had failed to appreciate was that the macaroon shells are simply meringues with the addition of ground almonds. I'm not really sure how this knowledge had passed me by but when I think of them like that, all of a sudden they're not quite so scary. After demonstrating the proper way to mix your egg whites and dry ingredients, Diane showed us how to pipe the perfect macaroons.

When Diane had demonstrated the basic technique, we were let loose on our own macaroon shells. My group was responsible for the production of chocolate macaroons which were to be filled with a dark chocolate and passion fruit ganache. First we whisked our egg whites until they were frothy and gradually added some caster sugar until we had a meringue. A little red gel food colouring produced a very pink mixture that was a little bit off-putting but when this was combined with our almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder, the requisite dark brown was formed and they baked up beautifully (in colour at least).

Macaroon and More

We then had a go at piping our macaroon shells and we learnt that it's much easier to pipe them when you've drawn a template of circles on your parchment paper (especially if you have as little spatial awareness as I do).

A few bangs of our trays on the counter later (which must have terrified the customers in the shop), we were ready to leave our macaroons out to dry out and form a crust while we got on with having lunch and, more importantly, making our fillings.

Diane demonstrated three different ways of filling our macaroons. For the green pistachio macaroons and the pink raspberry macaroons, we made a chocolate ganache by pour boiling cream over white chocolate until melted and adding pistachio extract and raspberry puree respectively. Similarly the chocolate and passion fruit filling was made with heavy cream, dark chocolate and the flesh of a couple of passion fruits.

For the yellow lemon and macaroons, Diane made a quick lemon and basil curd. The flavour was subtle but delicate with the basil providing a welcome relief from the tartness of the lemon.

Macaroon and More

Finally Diane made a salted caramel filling which I used with gay abandon on any shells I could get my hands on and, frankly, it was only good manners that stopped me piping it into my mouth.

It was then time for the great reveal and our now-cooked macaroon shells were brought out of the oven. The results showed the importance of keeping your piping uniform as one tray could contain several small overdone and several large underdone macaroons with just a few perfect shells. On the whole though, we were pretty pleased with the results.

As might be obvious from the above, the salted caramel macaroons were my absolute favourite but I wouldn't kick any of them out of bed. I feel really excited to get back into the kitchen and see what other flavours I can come up with. Guess what everyone I know will be getting for Christmas?

By London Bakes

David Lebovitz Book Signing
You're Invited to the Late Night Shopping Event with Book Signing & Demonstration by David Lebovitz at Divertimenti on Tuesday 6th September at 33-34 Marylebone High Street, 7-9pm.

Join us as we start the new Autumn Cookery School term with free wine tasting, petit fours and a cooking demo by David Lebovitz with recipes taken from his new book Ready for Dessert.

Take advantage of a 10%* shopping discount on the night.
*Excludes electricals, cookers and gift vouchers.
Late Night Shopping Event with Book Signing & Demonstration  by David Lebovitz Late Night Shopping Event with Book Signing & Demonstration  by David Lebovitz Late Night Shopping Event with Book Signing & Demonstration  by David Lebovitz

To mark the start of the Cookery School autumn term, Divertimenti hosted its annual late night shopping evening (Marylebone High Street 06.09.11), with special guest and dessert maven David Lebovitz, showcasing recipes from his latest book, Ready For Dessert.

Despite attempts by the torrential rain to dampen the spirit of the event, the press and public were undeterred, and no doubt enticed by the prospect of tasting David’s delectable desserts, not to mention the free wine tasting provided by Majestic Wine.

Those in attendance were treated to a demonstration of candied peanuts, chocolate dipped macaroons and ginger cake, accompanied by the wit and humour that David’s blog and memoirs are famed for.

The event also saw the debut of the Divertimenti Digest; a brochure focusing on food trends and fashions, product highlights, a look forward to the Cookery School autumn term, and other gastronomic goings-on.
Late Night Shopping Event with Book Signing & Demonstration  by David Lebovitz Late Night Shopping Event with Book Signing & Demonstration  by David Lebovitz Late Night Shopping Event with Book Signing & Demonstration  by David Lebovitz

La Cornue Chef's Table with Jun Tanaka

Jun Tanaka Cherry Creme Brulee

Being enthusiastic about cooking but not having a television at home means I don't really understand all the fuss about TV cooks and celebrity cook shows. Furthermore, it seems that despite the fact that there are so many cooking books and TV shows out there (not to mention all the free information available online), people tend to cook less and less, as our host for the night, Jun Tanaka, commented.

For me, the idea of the big celebrity chef is slightly pretentious and overrated, as in my opinion some of the best meals are those prepared with the family, with a group of friends or even with the neighbours. However, Tanaka is not that kind of celebrity chef and it’s hard not to get excited about the journey ahead when your fellow diners are raving about the cook from the start, as was the case when I had the opportunity to see Tanaka cooking for a small group of people around the La Cornue Island at Divertimenti Knightsbridge.

Wanting to document the evening I sat at the La Cornue Island equipped with a pen and notebook, but my stationary was quickly replaced by tableware as I was encouraged to sit back and enjoy the culinary experience that started to unfold in front of me. Dish after dish, Tanaka was able to take us through a journey of the senses while talking about his career and culinary projects. Guests were also able to chat and share their own cooking experiences, but best of all, was the chance to get a glimpse of this talented chef's mind, taste some of the dishes offered in his central London restaurant, ‘Pearl’, and to hear some of his cooking tips.

The first starter was what Tanaka named 'the taste of summer’ – so called because you were able ‘to feel the season from the plate'. It was a light vegetarian dish made with heritage tomato in jelly, cream cheese and a lovely basil sorbet. According to Tanaka, this classic combination of ingredients could be used to describe both his cooking and even his own outlook on life, evidence that for him the culinary craft is not just a means of living but also a way of life.

As we were eating the first starter, Tanaka and his sous-chef were already preparing the second one, which included one of my favourite fishes: monkfish, poached with seaweed and served with consommé. It was a small seafood feast where the hobs, the hot plate and the grill were the centre of attention, but nothing could prepare me for the end result, in this case the whole was definitely greater than the sum of its parts!

I couldn’t believe the highlight of the evening could easily be something like a consommé, but that was until the next course: herb crusted lamb, again with a superb selection of side dishes. At this point, I was already enjoying myself and starting to understand how charisma may have a strong impact on large audiences, after all, celebrity chefs are usually well known for reasons other than for just being good cooks. So rather than having an elaborate main, it was not surprising to have a medium rare lamb kebab with herb crumbs, which turned out to be a great, delicate dish, simple but irresistible.

I didn't think it would be possible to find the cherry to put on top of this amazing evening, but the dessert was genuinely one of the best I have ever tried, with a stunning combination of textures and flavours. I think the picture speaks for itself!

All in all, the evening was a great chance to enjoy a gorgeous dinner and to see a professional chef in action, using a dream cooker such as La Cornue and sharing insights on cooking and how we are (or should be) connected with food.

If you’re wondering whether by this point I was starting to have a new appreciation for the food craze of celebrity cooking shows, I must confess that Tanaka certainly did impress and made me understand why the genre is as popular as it is.

By Betty L.

An Evening with Chef Valentine Warner at Divertimenti Cookery School

It was a lovely June evening for a trip to Marylebone High Street, for a cooking demo with Chef Valentine Warner at the Divertimenti Cookery School.

Chef Valentine demonstrated 5 delicious recipes, all of which we got to taste. The recipes were Boquerones Sardines, Razor Clams with Chorizo & Broadbeans, Piperade, Red Mullet with Tomatoes on Toast with Rouille, and Barbequed Skirt Steak with Anchovies.

Valentine was very chatty with the audience, and we got to ask him all kinds of questions. His favourite food is Japanese, and he loves a good Shepherd's Pie.

The Boquerones Sardines were fantastic - they were marinated in white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil, and served on crunchy toast. Really easy to make, and delicious. Valentine is a very energetic presenter, which also makes him ideal for T.V.

Another fave was the Piperade, which is essentially scrambled eggs, but with a Basque twist. Valentine is very fond of Spanish cooking, and this was a theme in the recipes he presented.

Here we are enjoying the Barbequed Skirt Steak with Anchovies, served with wine. Yum!

If you haven't heard of Valentine, I encourage you to check out his cookbooks. He makes excellent easy, seasonal food with lots of flavour.

By Jamilla Camel

Ice Cream Demonstration Ice Cream Demonstration Ice Cream Demonstration
Marylebone Summer Fayre 2011
Marylebone Fayre 2011
Join Divertimenti at the Marylebone Summer Fayre, Sunday June 19, for some culinary fun throughout the day with knife skill demonstrations and cupcake decorating classes.

Marylebone Fayre 2011 Marylebone Fayre 2011 Marylebone Fayre 2011

Cosmopolitan Cupcakes Cookery Class

Cosmopolitan Cupcakes

First off, a confession. I don’t really like cupcakes that much. I know they have taken the world by storm in recent years but I always find the cake is a bit disappointing and is often overwhelmed by the sweet buttercream. I do, however, like cocktails so when I saw that Divertimenti were offering a class all about making cupcakes with booze, I decided to see if some tips from the professionals (and a healthy amount of alcohol) could help me overcome my suspicions.

The class was taught by Martha Money, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu London and former head chef of the Cafe Divertimenti. The recipes themselves were developed by another of the tutors, Sarah Benjamin.

The cupcakes we made were:

  • Amaretto Shotcakes
  • Absinthe Cake
  • Pink Champagne Showgirl Cupcakes
  • Raspberry Sherry Trifle Cupcakes
  • Chocolate Kahlua Cupcakes

We made each type of cupcake using a different method (by hand, with an electric whisk, with a food processor) so that we could compare the end results. With all the methods, the key to the perfect cupcake was not to over-mix the batter once the flour had been added. I'm pretty sure that I have been a bit whisk happy on previous occasions which has led to most of my cupcakes to date having a texture and density akin to a brick.

Martha also demonstrated a couple of techniques for frosting cupcakes including my new favourite (and easiest) method using a small star-shaped nozzle.

My absolute favourite cupcake was the Amaretto Shotcakes. We made this cake first and made it by hand. The recipe uses coconut milk and sunflower oil and doesn't contain any butter or eggs. I was a little sceptical at first but the resulting cake was fantastically moist and rich. About as far away from my usual experience with cupcakes as possible. The amaretto flavour is quite subtle even though it is in both the cake and the frosting so I might be tempted to up the quantity slightly next time I make these (and I will be making them again!).

By London Bakes

(Cosmopolitan Cupcakes with Sarah Benjamin on Wed 11th May 2011)

Punishment Free Pulses

Punishment Free Pulses ClassThe title of the demonstration was “Punishment Free Pulses”. How on earth can something that requires the foresight to soak overnight, before you even start to cook it, be punishment free I wondered? Nevertheless I was desperate to find out.

Our chef for the evening was the delightful Maria Elia. She was aided that night by sous chef George, who gained my respect and sympathy after learning that he’d been grating more horseradish than was possibly safe (for anyone who has ever grated this intoxicating root you’ll also sympathise), and the sprightly Gloria who multitasked around Maria ensuring that nothing was left unattended, including our wine glasses.

I had been apprehensive about how a demonstration would work, particularly as I am someone who relishes the hands-on practical experience of cooking. However I needn’t have worried. There were not only two flat screen TVs on either side of the kitchen, which itself was slightly raised on a platform, but there was also a long angled mirror directly above the stove so at all times you could see exactly what was being stirred into what, for how long and with what sort of vigour. In addition to this we had our very own booklet of recipes, so that we could follow exactly what Maria was making – and more importantly recreate it back in the comfort of our own homes later on. Our job was easy: we sat, we watched, we asked the occasional question; and most importantly: we ate.

Punishment Free Pulses ClassSix recipes and five taster courses of lentil-based dishes sounds intimidating, but the variation of flavours and textures combined with Maria’s expertise and uncomplicated approach made for an eclectic menu. Quite frankly I’ve never seen lentils so sexy.

As each course came our way, (we never even left our seats) our group of twenty or so people fell silent, apart from the occasional ‘mmmmmmm’, ‘ahhhhhh’. However this was an interactive class. Despite the fact that we were not doing the cooking, and let’s face it – who doesn’t like to be cooked for, especially when a world-class chef is doing the cooking.

Punishment Free Pulses ClassFor anyone who has ever suffered the affliction of watching their favourite cookery programme only to become irrationally flustered, frustrated and famished at not being able to taste the food created on screen, Divertimenti is for you. Taking a seat in front of an open kitchen I felt that the wonderful people at this cookery school had created a unique answer to this problem.

By Maya Thomas

(Punishment Free Pulses with Maria Elia on Wednesday 6th April 2011)

Easter Around Italy Cookery Class

Despite it being a, frankly, gorgeous saturday afternoon, I elected to spend my day in a basement in Marylebone with my mother learning how to cook a traditional Italian Easter lunch. The class was a hands on session at Divertimenti, taught by Francesca D'Orazio Buoanerba.

The menu was as follows:

  • Pane di Pasqua (Easter bread)
  • Timballo de Scrippelle con Ragu di Carne (Baked layered pancakes with meat sauce - recipe below)
  • Agnello al forno con patate (Roast leg of lamb with herbs, roasted garlic and potatoes)
  • Asparagi alla Milanese (Asparagus with butter sauce)
  • Cassata Siciliana (Sicilian ricotta cake)

What I particularly liked was the small adjustments that Francesca had made to the recipes to make them a little bit healthier for example the butter sauce for the asparagus with made with half butter/half chicken broth making it much lighter.

The whole menu was delicious but the stand out dish for everyone was the timballo; luckily my table were responsible for producing this so I feel very happy that I will be able to recreate it at home. I was quite sceptical initially as every time I've tried an Italian dish with pancakes, I've found that it just turns into a big mushy mess. I am now a complete convert and I'm pretty sure when ever I make lasagne - or any baked pasta dish - from now on, I'll use pancakes rather than pasta.

The timballo is layered with very thin pancakes made from eggs, flour and water. As there's no milk, the pancakes remain almost translucent when cooked and, when cooked, have the taste and consistency of the highest quality fresh pasta.

The pancakes were layered with a ragu made from tiny meatballs in a rich tomato sauce along with mozzarella and grated parmesan and then the whole thing was baked in the oven for about 30 minutes. I found making what seemed like hundreds of tiny meatballs strangely therapeutic and it didn't take anywhere near as long as I thought it would. The meatballs were then cooked in a mixture of water and olive oil; this was a technique that I had never seen before but was wonderful allowing the meatballs to cook without becoming dry.

The technique in making the tomato sauce for the meatballs was again something that I'd never seen before. We fried a finely chopped onion in some olive oil and added a lump of beef and a lump of veal. These were browned before a glass of wine was thrown in and allowed to evaporate. Then three cans of chopped tomatoes were briefly puréed in a food processor, added to the pan and the whole thing was allowed to simmer for an hour or so. Before the meatballs were added, the beef and veal were removed from the sauce. Although it may seem extravagant to use two sizeable chunks of meat to create a sauce, I can't even begin to imagine how good it would be served cold with some bread and a salad.

By London Bakes

(Easter Around Italy with Francesca D'Orazio Buoanerba on Saturday 9th April 2011)
IngredientsTimballoEaster Bread

Master the Knife and the (Culinary) World is your Chicken Oyster

“The chef’s blade should be considered an extension of the arm”, proclaimed Chef Peter Lien at the start of my knife skills class (Wednesday 30th March 2011). “The knife is the most essential tool in the chef’s arsenal” he continued, showing us the correct way to hold a knife – something that is not as intuitive as one might think. He then proceeded to demonstrate the purpose of a range of knives and the methods used to keep them razor sharp.

The basics covered it wasn’t long before we were literally sharpening our knives and getting into position for some serious carving. Having observed Peter’s surgeon-like skills it was time for the class to put a chicken ‘under the knife’.

We began by exposing the chicken’s ‘oysters’, or as the French call it sot-l'y-laisse, loosely translated as ‘only the fool leaves it there’; considered by chefs to be the most delicious part of poultry and their ‘reward’ for preparing the fowl. A few carefully guided incisions later and I was ready to turn my cutting edge to the fruit and veg.

We were then shown the techniques utilised by professional chefs to chop everything from parsley to pineapple. This included how to ‘rock and chop’ and julienne but also how to do so without putting our fingers at risk. I was soon slicing and dicing with ease.

No doubt prompted by the fresh produce around us, the class turned its attention towards the spoils of our collective cutting efforts – a delicious meal was rapidly put together and we settled down to eat.

For our starter we had Genoese Vegetable Soup accompanied by a Mint Pesto which added a refreshing twist. This was followed by Grilled Chicken with Soy and Chilli Glaze partnered with a Thai Peanut Slaw. The use of ketjap manis on the chicken added an exciting culinary dimension for me and for others in the group.

For dessert we had a Tropical Fruit Salad, and for those who wanted to indulge in an even sweeter experience there was an option to add a Star Anise Infusion (a sugar syrup infused with cardamom and star anise).

What impressed me about the Masterclass was the bonhomie within the group. As we sat around the table enjoying the fruits of our labour there was plenty of good conversation stimulated by the experience we had just shared.

On my way home I looked forward to preparing dinner and the opportunity to practise my newly acquired skills. It then struck me that despite being introduced to the elusive chicken ‘oysters’, I had neglected to keep an eye on whose plate they had made it onto. The contented smile on the chef’s face during the meal suddenly made sense.

By Chris Kader

Knife Skills1Knife Skills 2Knife Skills 3

Chocolate TrufflesLittle Puds That Left a Big Impression

Claudine Boulstridge’s Petit Fours demonstration class (Tueday 15th March 2011) is the ultimate treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. The Divertimenti cookery school team were very welcoming and attentive and the demo kitchen was well equipped with televisions & mirrors, allowing an all round view of the dishes being made.

Claudine started her class with a simple cinnamon & almond baklava recipe. Each student was given a step-by-step instruction booklet to follow and informed about the ingredients used and where to source specialised products, such as the filo pastry. Claudine explained that it’s best to use a ceramic oven dish when baking Baklava, so when you cut the pastry into diamonds at the end you don’t scratch the bottom of the container (which can easily damage many non-stick surfaces).

The mini pistachio bundt savarins with sour cherry syrup were definitely a class highlight for me. They were baked in decorative mini Kugelhopf non-stick tins and then decorated in a variety of ways. Claudine poured cherry syrup into the middle of the cakes (which was mixed with kirsch liqueur) for added moistness.The lemon brûlée tartlets with raspberry coulis took a lot of skill to make, and Claudine provided us with some of her secrets to help keep the pastry intact when serving. Great care needs to be taken when blowtorching the sugar topping on these cakes, as Claudine expertly demonstrated.

The class ended with dark chocolate salted caramels, amaretto dark chocolate truffles and mini roasted coffee cream éclairs. These petit fours were very easy to make and I will attempt to make these as gifts for my family this coming Easter. I am also very keen to attend one of Divertimenti’s hands on classes in the summer, and put some of my new found skills to the test. Many thanks to Claudine, Mary & Gloria for all their efforts and I look forward to trying out these recipes at home in the near future.

By Alexander Nye
BaklavaMini KugelhopfLemon Tarts

Chef James DuganCastle Chef Captivates With Culinary Creations

Talented young chef James Dugan, of Amberley Castle fame, delighted La Cornue and Von Essen Hotel guests to a summer banquet last night at Divertimenti Brompton Road (Thursday 20th May 10).

James made his name as head chef of Richard Corrigan’s Lindsay House and has achieved national acclaim from the likes of Michael Winner ever since.

Guests were fortified with Amberley Castle specialities including Smoked Salmon Compressions, French Trimmed Sussex Lamb with Sweetbreads and a Deconstructed Carrot Cake.

Amberley CastleTrimmed Sussex Lamb with SweetbreadsGuests

CupcakeThe Cambridge Cake Campaign

The Divertimenti Cookery School will be running a series of FREE weekday and weekend cakebaking demos/Join-in for children and adults, running right through thesummer.
Click here for more details.
James McIntosh

Cooking For a Good Cause at Divertimenti - 21st December 2009

Divertimenti was delighted to host a special student's cookery class, just before Christmas (Monday 21st Dec 09) at the Marylebone store, in aid of children’s charity Place2Be.

Participants were treated to a hands on masterclass by award winning chef and AGA favourite, James McIntosh, with all proceeds going to the charity.

Mrs Moneypenny from the Financial Times, otherwise known as Heather McGregor, was in attendance along with her son Rob (or Cost Centre #1). Using her weekly column she was able to generate plenty of interest for the event as well as signing her son up for one of the coveted places!
Cooking for a Good Cause StudentsCooking for a Good Cause StudentsCooking for a Good Cause Students

New Divertimenti Directory Launch - 1st December 2009

Launch party canapesDecember is historically (and biblically) a month for new arrivals so Divertimenti couldn’t have chosen a more auspicious time to launch their new Directory, which was warmly received by those gathered at the Marylebone store last Tuesday (1st Dec 09).

Atul KoccharDescribed as the ‘shop in print’, the Directory puts over 1800 culinary items including classic cookware, kitchenware, tableware, innovative tools & utensils and informative buying guides at your finger tips.

Launch partyMichelin starred chef and Saturday Kitchen (BBC) regular, Atul Kochhar, treated guests to a selection of his award-winning cuisine in honour of the occasion and, thanks to a shopping discount on the night, the tills rang out well into the evening.

Pork and the Popstar!

TastingFormer Atomic Kitten and Celebrity Masterchef winner, Liz McClarnon hosted an exclusive ‘Love Pork Properly’ cooking demonstration at the Divertimenti Cookery School Cambridge this week (15/09/09) as part of the UK Pork promotional tour.

Liz McClarnonGuests enjoyed an array of autumnal dishes, prepared by pork lover Liz, plus goody bags and a recipe book.

By Samantha Paterson

Culinary Couture

Months of trawling trade shows and scrutinising suppliers came to fruition last week (2&3rd July 09 Marylebone) as Divertimenti unveiled its new culinary collection to a product hungry food and homes press pack.

Editors and stylists from the UK’s top titles enjoyed a preview of the latest cookware and tableware ranges destined for the Divertimenti shelves in September 09. Show stoppers included the fire engine red Lagostina Rossa pans and Cuisinartall in one soup maker. There were coos of admiration over the eggcoddlers and bamboo oven gloves, with many pledging allegiance to thecoffee pod after a cappuccino from the new Nespresso Citiz.

Blue blade titanium knives and the Sleek'n'Slice Mandolin where given top billing amongst the cutting edge products, while grape scissors, toothpick dispensers and Cornishware reflected a retro trend.

The temperatures last week may have soared to 30 degrees but the forecast for the new collection is hot, hot, hot.

By Samantha Paterson

Top Journalists get a Roasting at Divertimenti, Brompton Road

The Centenary Flamberge Rotisserie, the newest addition to the La Cornue family, received a full media christening on Tuesday (19.05.09) presided over by La Cornue president, Xavier Dupuy.

Editors and writers from Britain's top interiors magazines where treated to a cooking demonstration and mouth-watering rotisserie lunch, prepared by celebrity chef Rachel Green. A whole salmon, leg of lamb, chicken kebabs and pork ribs all had a spin on the spit; even the pineapple dessert took a whirl!

The media guests were left in no doubt as to La Cornue’s rotisserie pedigree, but should any require further persuading a turn on the spit could be arranged!

At the Cutting Edge of Cooking

Knife Skills ClassThe knives were out for Martha Money last Thursday (23.04.09), not in an ‘et tu brute’ sense, merely in preparation for her knife skills masterclass!

A fluid and comprehensive introduction to knife selection, safety and sharpening preceded a step by step guide to portioning whole chickens, slicing vegetables and chiffonading herbs.

While the chicken marinated for lunch, the class continued to julienne peppers, cube cucumbers and get to grips with gazpacho.

With all digits accounted for, the class settled down to a delicious lunch and a chance to ask the chef for some extra pointers!

By Samantha Paterson

Something about Sushi

Silla Bjerum's Sushi hands on masterclassAt the start of Silla Bjerrum's Sushi hands on masterclass (Wednesday 22nd April 09) one point was made very clear. Get the sushi rice right and everything else would fall into place; get it wrong and you're 'sashimied'.

Preparing the rice involved washing it ten times, then resting it for half an hour before carefully cooking it. Once cooked, it had to be cooled by a fan to the desired temperature before the rice wine vinegar could be added.

Silla Bjerum's Sushi hands on masterclassWith perfect sushi rice at the ready, the class was tutored in Maki rolling, sourcing and slicing fish for Nigiri, assembling garnishes in the sushi tradition and rice moulding. As the classes dexterity at sushi rolling improved two groups emerged. Those who rolled enough to supply a nation and those who sampled enough to sustain a nation!

Silla's straightforward and edifying approach promoted the class from sushi fans to Maki masters.

View more pictures from the Sushi masterclass here

By Samantha Paterson

Bill’s Bonza Book Signing

Bill Granger book signing

London’s grey skies and drizzle couldn’t dampen the spirits of those gathered for Divertimenti’s night of culinary diversions, on Thursday at the Marylebone High Street store (16.04.09).

The promise of a dose of Aussie sunshine was redeemed in the form of chef and food writer Bill Granger. The blond chef with the blinding smile worked his antipodean charm on the 150 strong crowd, while signing copies of his new book 'Feed Me Now' (Quadrille 2009).

Bill GrangerGuests were refreshed with canapés, inspired by Bill’s book, and specially chosen wines. There were product demonstrations and The Divertimenti Cookery School put on knife skill classes for all to enjoy.

The weather outside may have been grim, but all those who attended glowed with satisfaction.

Samantha Paterson

A Quick Peek at Orange Pekoe’s Tea Tasting Class

Monday, 30th March 2009, Marylebone High Street

Orange Pekoe’s Tea TastingMuch was revealed by reading the tea leaves during Orange Pekoe’s tea tasting class on Monday. No tall dark strangers appeared but there were plenty of black, green and white tea flavours produced by Orange Pekoe's speciality loose leaf range.

Each tea was introduced with a commentary on its origin, cultivation and character before guests were invited to taste and evaluate aromas and flavours. Naturally there couldn’t be tea without cake, so guests were treated to a delicious selection from Orange Pekoe's award winning Barnes tea room.

Customer comments:

'It was very informative and I learned a lot about different teas…'

'I enjoyed the informal relaxed atmosphere and the cakes were delicious'Orange Pekoe’s Tea Tasting

'It was very informative, learned a lot about different Tea and Tea drinking will be different from now on.'

'I enjoyed the tasting of all different teas and the interaction with the group.'

'The informal relaxed atmosphere and the other participants.'

'Experiencing new teas and inside information.'

'Jane was great and the teas and cakes were delicious.'

'The expertise, enthusiasm and well selected range of teas.'

By Samantha Paterson

An evening with Michelin starred Chef Alexis Gaulthier at the Divertimenti Chefs Table, Brompton Road.

Thursday, 23rd January 2009

Alexis GaulthierAlready a legend with Légumes, Alexis’s new culinary expedition is to explore the fifth taste sensation or ‘Umami’. Taken from the Japanese for savoury, Umami amplifies earthy tastes on the palate, expanding and rounding out the flavours.

Joining him on this journey of discovery were the intrepid guests of the Divertimenti Chefs Table. Alexis expertly guided us through the preparation and presentation of some of his signature seasonal dishes.

Alexis GaulthierThe port and foie gras egg soufflé was a sweet savoury sensation, baked in a duck egg shell and balanced on a bank of sea salt. Gasps of appreciation rang out after Alexis’s Gnocchi master class and the coriander and lime granite left us enlightened.

Umami satisfactorily unearthed, the evening was rounded off with an assortment of petit fours from Alexis’s restaurant Roussillon, and a round of applause for the chef.

by Samantha Paterson


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