Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The London Chef

I had waited with anticipation the opening of The London Chef, at 953 Fort Street. The concept of this space is of a foodie's haven of cooking classes and food parties. Despite my curiosity I didn't get into the shop until late in the summer as I just wasn't in that part of town often. Since I began teaching infant massage next door at the Mothering Touch (975 Fort) though I have weekly opportunities to be in the shop.

My first visit was actually my job interview for the teaching gig when I was surprised to discover that a small cafe and retail area was attached to the shop, something I hadn't known. This cafe is where I will start. Selling coffee, pastries and lunches the cafe is an expanded breezeway really but it is filled with things to intrigue every foodie.

On the retail front the fridge is stuffed with house made sausage from Stage restaurant and there are frozen stocks and sauces too. The shelves to the left of the sales counter are filled with cookbooks from some of the most prominent chef's of today (Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck caught my eye especially). There are also vinegars, reductions and flavoured salts (coffee?!?!?) to tempt you too.

In terms of the actual cafe items I have tried a selection. The coffee and espresso is definitely up to standard and the soup I had one day was delicious. Some of the baked goods though haven't been so overwhelming. I have had one of the savory open tarts (leek and goat cheese) and though tasty enough the puff pastry was quite pale and, as a result, lacked the crisp flakiness I prefer. Same can be said of the "breadsticks", which are actually puff pastry sticks with a small sprinkling of cheese and caraway seeds (Bernard was pretty pleased with the caraway) but that didn't compensate for the slightly limp pastry. I have tried some of the sweet pastries to and the same applies. Nothing bad, but I am still waiting to be dazzled.

The bulk of the space is set up in a squared "u" of work stations with a larger teaching station in the open side of the "u". There is also a large (like sit 30 large) beautiful wooden table to the side for dining. There is selection of cooking classes taught here and you can book private cook and eat events in the evenings.

Tuesday at noon is the event I have been most intrigued by. Called "lunch and learn" and running from noon to one this event allows you to come in and get a lunch that you get to watch being made. The menu shifts and focuses sometimes on a culture (i.e. Arabian) or a food (ie. the hamburger). There are munchies for you when you arrive and you then get an interactive demo by the chef and his assistant that culminates in the delivery of your main course (usually around twenty or quarter to one to give you some time for eating). I haven't actually attended but I am often in the cafe during the classes and the atmosphere seems fun and friendly. Judging by the papers the audience are generally clutching I am guessing you get recipes too. At a cost of $25 it is an expensive lunch - but a pretty good deal for an hour long cooking class/entertainment.


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