Adults and children can now choose among top quality cooking classes exploring the flavoursome traditions of Greek gastronomy
Discovering Athens’ blossoming food and drink scene can offer endless joy to your tastebuds, but there’s a delicious satisfaction that comes from creating an amazing meal with your own hands too. Several top quality cooking schools now offer cooking enthusiasts, foodies and amateur cooks alike the chance to discover Greek ingredients, recipes and culinary skills taught by expert chefs. We don our chef’s hat and apron and head off to get cooking!
My moussaka is (almost) better than yiayia’s!
Whether you are a visitor who wants to enjoy a three hour cooking class alone or in a group, or a resident who wants to get serious about creating magic in the kitchen, the Culinary Centre & Cooking School on Vouliagmenis Ave has since 2013 designed several programmes. With modern, well-equipped cooking facilities and making the best of quality, seasonal Greek ingredients, the school addresses both ‘Enthusiasts’ and ‘Professionals’. For the prior category it can create tailor-made programmes lasting one (three-hour) session or a small course, based on the exact things you want to learn; alternately if you are set on learning how to make moussaka better than mama, they can concoct a tailor-made programme. In both cases the cooking session always ends with a meal in which you eat what you created, and wine tastings can also be added on.
The Professionals programme is aimed exclusively at serious cooks and wannabe chefs, offering foundation, intensive and advanced cooking and pastry courses and the option of gaining pro certificates. “Job-loss has become common due to the financial crisis, and many individuals over 30 are changing to chef work, as there is a very low unemployment level in this sector,” says Lila Karapostoli who runs the school. “Our courses teach people how to start with line cook jobs and then progress to other levels. We also offer 50% to unemployed people in order to offer them the opportunity to start their life again.”
Yoleni’s flagship store in Kolonaki also offers daily cooking classes on its third floor (where Olive Oil tasting classes also take place), but for slightly more specialised instruction you can also try the Museum of Greek Gastronomy , which describes its mission thus: “To create a place that promotes the Greek History and Culture, focusing on gastronomy and its historical and cultural value.” As it’s located near Athinas St where the Varvakeio Fish, Meat and Vegetable Markets are as well as numerous spice, herb, sausage and cold cuts stores, the museum cooking group takes students on a multi-sensory shopping expedition in true Greek style before class. The lesson includes information on Greece’s culinary and food history and culture, food preparation, tips and tricks and indulging in the (hopefully delightful) meal you’ve prepared at the end.
But what about the little ones? Isn’t learning how to cook one of the most fun, engaging and educational things they can do (not to mention a fun activity to savour together?) Certainly, and that’s why the Kids Cooking Club was created, hosting school groups (with around 15,000 participants per year!) and cooking parties, open food-centred events as well as ongoing cooking classes in the Baby Chef, Junior Chef, Kids Chef and Top Chef categories. The director and coordinator of the club, Maria Mela ,who also runs Kallitehnoupoli says “the school, which is considered the best in Greece and among the top in Europe, gifts kids with the valueable understanding of where foods come from, how they shape society and above all, what their nutritional value offers. How does food affect us? What does it offer our body and mind? It’s vital for them to develop a way to discern what food offers on all levels.”
Between June and August the Cooking Club even runs a Summer Camp for children aged 6-16, that can be attended as many days of the week or weeks of the month as parents choose. Experienced chef teachers guide small groups of children through practical yet fun and fully interactive techniques as well as building their theoretical understanding of how food is produced and its cultural significance. Children are inspired to set free their creativity and ingenuity while practicing using their fine motor, concentration, cooperation, patience and logic skills. “We hope our students can develop a more sophisticated way of seeing the world through food, which is in our life every day, and that’s only the starting point,” Mela says.