David and I LOVE Jamaica and we LOVE authentic Jamaican food. I am one lucky girl, because David can recreate some of the classic meals on our trips to Negril at home. Now, I might even have a chance at doing it, thanks to the “Jamaican Me Crazy” cooking class at Schoolhouse Culinary Arts in Regina.
The last time I went to a cooking class, it was upstairs as part of the restaurant Tangerine. Since then, Chef and owner Aimee Schulhauser has expanded into a full time cooking school that is doing amazing. I noticed right away how spacious and well put together the space is (separate prep stations for all of the 12 participants, easy to find all the tools you need, and a great pantry)! A wonderful vibe all around.
Oh, and did I mention you can order alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) drinks while you are cooking too?! We ordered red stripe beers.. a perfect fit for the Jamaican menu.
The other thing I love about Chef Aimee’s classes is just how friendly and knowledgeable Aimee is as a teacher. She went through the menus for the night, gave us tips on knife skills, how to cut a mango and an onion, and was a great cheerleader when we needed it too. It’s fun to cook together with new people, then sit down family style for a meal at the end of the night.
We got right down to business, making cod cakes with a chipotle mayo. David and I helped with the cod cakes, and the other people on our team of 6 made the chipotle mayo. The cod cakes were much easier than I thought they would be, and the mayo was to die for! The great thing about the classes is that you start at 6 p.m. by making an appetizer, and eat it right away (so you aren’t starving for the 8:30 p.m. dinner).
Then, we all worked together on the main course. Thank god David raised his hand to cut up the whole chicken for our team, because I sure as heck would have been terrible at it. While he was doing that, I worked on the mango and avocado salsa, and the rest of the team put together the jerk marinade. When the chicken went into the oven, David and I moved on to a rice and peas (actually beans) dish… but I have to be honest that I prefer David’s version. But, my favourite dish of the night was probably the one I didn’t work on at all – fried plantains with brown sugar. Wonderful!
We started to prep the dessert (a pretty simple and easy recipe of rum and pineapple with ice cream), and when that was ready to go, we cleaned up our stations and moved the tables all together to make one big family dining table. Aimee has great assistants who are always there to lend a hand, clean dishes as the night goes on, and serve you drinks! Really helps the flow of the evening.
We ate our wonderful meal and had a great time getting to know people around the table. It was all incredible, and you get to take home all of the recipes when you are done (and I intend to try many of these dishes again.
Classes at Schoolhaus Culinary Arts are $75 per person, and you can also book private classes where you can decide on a special menu. I highly recommend this experience.. watch for new classes opening up monthly showcasing all kinds of cuisine.. and be sure and get your tickets before they are snapped up (classes book up quickly)!