The perfect gift for your budding home cook!
In a year where nothing went to plan, where dinners at your favourite venues had to be postponed, many tried their hand at sourdough starters and some of the most googled topics of the year are cooking recipes.
The logical next step is to start upskilling yourself and get some inside tips from the exceptional Chef Nicola Coccia, whose Ettalong Beach restaurant Osteria Il Coccia, was placed at #21 of the 100 Foodie Things to do in NSW this summer by the Good Food Guide.
Does it sound too good to be true, to be getting the inside hint and tricks from the God of Fire himself?
We have Ali Bishop from Pachamama Catering to thank for bringing this opportunity to life; as one of the many who optimistically waltzed into 2020 with ambitious goals only to have them turned on their head, Ali found she was unable to attend a cooking school to advance her own culinary skills. When that could not occur, she created her own and engaged some stellar talent here on the Central Coast.
We were fortunate to attend the “Dinner Party” Masterclass at Killcare Surf Club, a small group of 15 seated around the kitchen window where we can see Chef preparing for the class ahead.
The group is a mix of parents on day-dates, friends celebrating an early Christmas gift, to local artists who attend the restaurant regularly. For the next 3 hours (which seemed to fly by!) we are welcomed and tended to by Ali and in awe of Chef taking us through the fundamentals of prepping, cooking and serving for a dinner party.
The menu today is an entrée of Tuna, Watermelon, sour cream & citrus followed by a Crab and Linguine Pasta; the secondi is Kingfish with Racchio and finally there’s a dessert of Rum Ricotta and Berries.
Not only did Chef prep, cook and serve all these dishes within the 3-hour duration, but he also spoke us through the mise en place (having everything in its place so you can execute your cooking efficiently) and encouraged an interactive atmosphere, entertaining questions & answers and providing tastings during the journey.
Even though you are not physically cooking you are up close to the action and able to absorb the tips shared by Chef along the way. Tips like what size portion of pasta to provide when serving a multi dish menu at a dinner party, how to choose the best tuna, or how making fresh pasta varies every time depending on the temperature of the room and eggs you are using – who knew?!
It was impressive watching the ease with which Chef filleted a Kingfish whilst answering questions, from how to use the fish bones to reduce waste to sharing personal stories of having a customer for whom he would keep the fish heads for their own personal cooking (waste nothing!).
At certain points during the class you can tell people who are regular to his restaurant, as the questions are about his double-smoked butter or the details of his bisque are being bantered - he is only too happy to share some trade secrets and give us a glimpse behind the scenes.
Walking away from the class after tasting all the dishes (and even a glass of wine!), enjoying some fun chat with other participants, and leaving with the recipes of everything we saw today under your arm, the session leaves even the most novice home cooks inspired to get some friends and family together and try out their newfound skills (and confidence at home).
The Masterclass is always evolving with the next class on offer with Chef Nicola aptly named ‘Farm to Flame’ (also the name of his cookbook) where Chef will be doing what he loves most, cooking with only fire. This unique concept is a first here on the Coast and will be based at local permaculture farm at Killcare, it is also a unique opportunity to see this property and use the produce grown on the property.
With the classes being diverse they also offer a plant-based Masterclass. Ali herself is an exceptional Chef and will be hosting Vegan cooking courses in April also. The class is aimed mostly to non-vegans looking to incorporate more plant-based cooking into their repertoire. Having studied plant-based cuisine at a prestigious school in New York a few years ago she has continued this passion of nourishing yourself through great quality, local organic food and this class teaches you how to create delicious meat-free dishes.
Tickets are available through the Pacha Catering website and the make a perfect gift for the budding home cook or food enthusiast!