JORGE shows how the
classroom can be
used for functions. The
table is adorned for an intimate event with
canvas and lace tablecloth, wooden plates from felled trees,
and fresh flowers.
PHOTOS BY NELSON
Never held a kitchen knife before? This cooking class is for you
The centerpiece, an antique silver bowl brimming with white roses, hydrangeas and wild apples, obstructed the view of the chic women across the table. Still, the guests enjoyed the conversation while partaking of the five-course meal prepared by the chef-teachers of 25 Mushrooms Kitchen School.
Rosario “Sari” Reyes Jorge has become the go-to guru for domestic culinary training. Six years ago, 25 Mushrooms Kitchen started out as an informal gathering for maids to learn basic skills and recipes. The classes have since included just about anybody who’s interested in cooking and entertaining. Jorge takes pride in the fact that first-timers can cook a six-course Thai meal after only one lesson.
The recipes taught in the school have been compiled in “Tastes of Home,” which has become a bestseller at National Bookstore.
With new facilities at the Valle Verde 5 Clubhouse, 25 Mushrooms Kitchen can hold bigger classes and offer private catering for a maximum of 30 guests. The place also displays enticing desserts such as carrot cake, dulce de leche and red velvet that are baked in Jorge’s kitchen. Moreover, she bottles sun-dried tomatoes, fig jams, mango jams, lemon curd, smoked salmon paté and pasta sauces.
The new clubhouse inauguration was also a marketing opportunity for brands that Jorge endorses. Severin, a German brand of cooking appliances, demonstrated how to make waffle cones and tempted the guests with its user-friendly crepe-maker. Iced coffee was concocted with Braun’s appliances. Stradmore, famous for its notebooks, Blogberry and calendars, gifted the visitors with a menu-planning calendar and a homemaker’s notebook.
Chef-teacher Margaret Santos and pastry chef Myra Queroz carefully crafted a luncheon of classics. Palates were tickled with parma ham and micro greens, followed by foie gras with a caramelized apple phyllo pastry with a mild vinaigrette dressing, and a comforting consommé with spinach and wild mushrooms.
There was a choice of grilled seafood with a champagne cream sauce and saffron risotto or beef tenderloin in porcini cream sauce.
The vegetarian alternatives were moussaka and stuffed bell pepper. The meal’s hearty conclusions were a classic crème brulée and strawberry ice cream.
Over lunch, Jorge announced the launch of the Absolute Beginner Mom’s Course. “It’s designed for the newlywed and for single homemakers who may have never held a kitchen knife before,” said Jorge.
As in any culinary school, the four-lesson basic course starts with stocks, sauces, butchery, food safety, cooking techniques from steaming to frying, and Oriental and Western recipes. The hands-on training is more individualized, as each participant will cut, cook and plate the recipe.
“We want them to come home and cook a meal. For a Thai course, they can already prepare pad thai noodles, green chicken curry, tom yam and mango sticky rice. Next day, we make paella and pasta. By Day 4, they can cook up a date meal such as steak with porcini mushrooms or seared tenderloin with morelle mushroom sauce, salad with honey balsamic dressing, roasted tomato cream soup and a dessert of crème brulée or red velvet cake. We teach brunch recipes such as eggs Benedict, croque madame and tapa. Those are dishes moms want to prepare,” said Jorge.
The course also focuses on wholesome family meals. A nutritionist from Medical City will educate moms on nutrition, healthy cooking and the diabetic diet.
The Absolute Beginner Mom’s Course has similarities with the basic course for maids who are noncooks. The differences are that maids are taught table service such as how to serve champagne and water for the guests; and they work in groups.
“The Absolute Beginner Helper’s course is geared toward maids who’ve never cooked. We have to explain the food, how they are eaten, and if the food should be served warm or cold. In the end, they make lasagna and red velvet cupcakes with piped icing. They poach their own eggs and make hollandaise sauce and tocino with no preservatives. They can make a kid’s menu such as burgers and buffalo wings,” said Jorge.
Desire to learn
Ultimately, the success of any beginner cook lies in the enthusiasm and not cooking out of duty. “The desire to learn must be there,” said Jorge. When maids twiddle with their mobile phones during lessons, Jorge catches them by asking if they did their homework.
Her other advice is to select recipes with readily available ingredients. “Sometimes you substitute, and the dish doesn’t turn out well. Then you get discouraged,” she noted. “Start by learning your favorite dish. If you like the outcome, you would be motivated.”
Beginners’ classes have started this month. For details call tel. no. 6314822 or visit the 25 Mushrooms Kitchen Facebook page.