Run by a group of delightful Swedish chefs, all of whom have worked in Michelin-starred kitchens, the idea is that you can learn the tricks of restaurant kitchens, using the best technology, under expert guidance and with handily pre-measured and sourced ingredients
For months now I have been walking past the big red brick building that runs along the lower end of Farringdon Road hoping that someone was going to do something lovely with the then empty building. Quite contrary to the norm, someone has done what I wanted. So, well done Aveqia for that alone.
Luckily for the owners there are many other things that we can congratulate Aveqia for: allowing me to see Freddy’s ‘cooking face’; for getting Jiggs to make mayonnaise; and for putting on one of the most thoroughly enjoyable evenings I have had in a very long time.
Not your conventional cookery school but rather a culinary experience, the focus here is on interactivity, socializing and having fun – though those with an interest in food and cooking will be able to learn a huge amount too. As David Berggren, founder of Aveqia, told me: ‘You cook, drink wine and enjoy. We do the rest.’
Run by a group of delightful Swedish chefs (see video at bottom), all of whom have worked in Michelin-starred kitchens, the idea is that you can learn the tricks of restaurant kitchens, using the best technology (including twizzly-knobbed hobs from Gaggenau which are amazing), under expert guidance and with handily pre-measured and sourced ingredients.
Pictured above: The kitchen and dining-room at Aveqia London
You cook in four groups, each group taking responsibility for one course, and eat all together at big, long tables peppered with wine glasses and candles. As the cooking process was being explained I had some rather nervous Spear’s boys whispering in my ear that I had ‘mis-sold’ the evening’s events – I had said they probably wouldn’t have to cook. I was wrong. They did, but they were properly supervised in the way that young children in the kitchen would be and truth be told I think they rather enjoyed it. They also found the tasks far less daunting having been introduced to the wine buffet provided to help those who’d lost their motivation after hearing the complexity of the menu.
From smoked sea bass with lemon cured scallop, bouquet garni, lovage and consommé to spice-flamed reindeer with side of pork, chanterelles and a vinagrette of melted butter and lingonberries, the courses were admittedly complex. Yet there was little to be afraid of (other than the prospect of Freddy getting near a blow-torch) as the food came together – rather remarkably – without a hitch and tasted fantastic.
This is proof that anyone can come along to one of these evenings, even if, like Freddy, they usually only reheat. You can also try as you go, which I approve of. Even if someone did fluff up it was funny rather than a disaster. I was rather over-enthusiastic with my piping bag of soft Italian meringue so some guests had a majestic swirl and others more a damp squib but nobody minded. Everyone was having far too much fun and had drunk far too much wine to care.
So, if 25 midly inebriated journalists and plus-ones can create something that surpasses merely edible there is hope for everyone. I thoroughly recommend the evening, not only because the chefs were kind enough to suffer my Wallander-learnt pigeon Swedish with a smile, but because it was genuinely good fun, the food and wine delicious and the surroundings beautifully designed and inviting. With 27 units planned in the next five years, there should be an Aveqia popping up near you soon – so keep a greedy eye out.
AVEQIA London costs £155 per person for 8-12 people (including their own chef, kitchen and dining room, sparkling wine and two Amuse-bouche per person, wine whilst cooking, four courses and an AVEQIA apron) and £95 for individual bookings (including sparkling wine and amuse-bouche on arrival, four courses, and an apron)
Click here to read a dissenting view of Aveqia
Not this kind of Swedish chef