Spear’s heads to The Langham, London to experience a culinary masterclass in its Sauce cookery school
Dinner party planning is something that can bring a perfect balance of excitement and anxiety – no matter the extent of one’s culinary expertise. Time-poor hosts can’t be expected to pore over a lifetime’s worth of recipe books, nor stream endless YouTube videos on the secret to crispy roast potatoes, while also curating the perfect playlist and rethinking tricky invites.
This is where masterclasses fill the gap. And where better to do this than at the Langham hotel, which offers an exclusive, half-day experience at Sauce Kitchen, the Langham’s casual cookery school? Here you will be trained by London’s best restaurant chefs – Michel Roux Jr included – and aided by top kitchen professionals who will hold your hand while you learn the skills needed to produce restaurant-quality food at home.
Spear’s approves of the rustic farmhouse character of the space, which includes workstations for up to 12 participants, and where vintage furniture is aligned with modern kitchen essentials from the likes of Samsung, Kenwood and de Buyer.
After enjoying a light breakfast of pastries and coffee, guests start by donning their crisp, white personalised apron. Executive chef Chris King ushers us to the main table to demonstrate the art of wrapping and seasoning a 5kg bone rib of Scotch Beef. Before the starter, we get a teaser to the roast potato secret – a ratio of one hundredth of white wine vinegar to water while soaking the spuds overnight. He vanishes, as the main dish’s aromas gradually waft through the air. Another chef, Millie Simpson, steps in and takes us through the stages of crumpet-making for the starter course. The Singapore-born foodie is the kitchen manager at the Sauce, and her calm, friendly yet precise manner sets us up for success.
At Sauce, you get the glory of MasterChef, but with none of the anxiety – remember, you’re the guest with the apron, not the spotless chef’s jacket. The classes are accessible to those with any level of cooking interest or experience – or lack thereof. Such is the expertise of the team that they would prevent spillages before they even happen – a helpful hand would gingerly move any item leaning dangerously close to the edge, or warn you seconds before a crumpet achieves its desirable golden crust. It’s a snapshot of calm, kitchen perfection, the science of measurements and the artistry of plating combined – all at once. While admiring the dexterity of the professionals, guests are encouraged to ask questions, relax and even nibble at the finished products of each cooking demonstration.
Participants can learn everything, from which knife to use for which task, to where to find rare commodities such as the live yeast (ask for a small batch from your local supermarket bakery), as well as the intricacies of stock and sauce-making. There are also opportunities to handle some of London’s best produce, sourced in a responsible manner according to the standards of the hotel, which recently received critical acclaim for its sustainability policies.
Of course, quality assurance is everything, and the moment comes for each guest to taste each item they have personally cooked – with a glass of paired wine at the Pantry next door (a cosy dining space with a large oak table, specially commissioned Winchcombe pottery and a library of cookbooks). However, the true luxury of the Sauce’s classes is the variety of lessons and themes available throughout the year, no matter the occasion, catering to everyone from children to adult gourmands to cocktail aficionados. Building Blocks covers the techniques of cooking, Scones and Jams offers insight into the Palm Court’s seasonal afternoon tea, and Chouxlicious is a session for aspiring and amateur patissiers alike to produce an eclectic range of choux creations, to name a few.
The year 2020 is packed with unique experiences such as the Nutrition and Wellbeing class, held in conjunction with the hotel’s spa Chuan Body+Soul. Here, sustainable living will be emphasised throughout, as will the methods of modern wellbeing, with teachings interspersed between the spa, gym and the Sauce kitchen. Places are quickly filling up for this class, Spear’s hears, as HNWs are increasingly keen to, at least partially, fulfil their New Year’s resolutions. Judging by the encouraging responses and interest since the Sauce’s June 2019 launch, HNWs would certainly want to keep an eye on its online calendar for the next available slot. Trade secrets do sell like hot cakes.