Disclosure: I attended the class courtesy of Electrolux and Trupp Cooking School.
How did you learn how to cook? I’m sure that many people learnt from their parents, like I did. Most of my skills are from watching my parents cook and prepare food as I grew up. We never really talked about cooking, but because I was always in the kitchen and in their shop, I saw them do things and somehow it sunk in.
Without that base from observing my parents, I don’t think I’d be the cook I am today. It’s such a good way to learn – which is why I think cooking classes are great. So when I was invited to a cooking class at Trupp Cooking School late last year, I was very eager to attend.
The entrance to the cooking school is fairly non-descript, but upon walking upstairs to the classroom and seeing the kitchen, I was awestruck. The room held a massive wooden bench surrounded by an incredibly well fitted kitchen – amazingly organised shelves, many kitchen aid mixers, Le Creuset pots, and shiny Electrolux appliances. WANT WANT WANT.
The class started with a glass of bubbles and some history behind the cooking school and Walter Trupp, who runs it with his wife, Dorota. Walter Trupp originally comes from Austria and has worked in several Michelin star restaurants in Europe, as well as owning his own restaurant back in Austria. After making a move to England, he worked in Michel Roux’s Waterside Inn in Bray, before joining Marco Pierre White’s restaurant group to become Executive Head Chef.
The move to Melbourne came through the position of Head Chef at Langton’s Restaurant and Wine Bar, before he followed through on his other ambitions of teaching – eventually opening Trupp Cooking School with Dorota, a nutritionist, in August last year.
After the introduction, it was time to taste.. tomatoes! Walter had some tomatoes that were in various stages of preparation so we could taste the difference between tomatoes that had the seeds or peel removed. It would’ve been a shame for any raw tomato haters, because this part of the class was fascinating – by tasting each piece of tomato it was evident that there was a ton of flavour in the seeds and skin.
He also pureed tomatoes so we could taste the juice both strained and unstrained. I couldn’t believe the difference – the strained juice was very flavoursome and floral, a note that didn’t come through at all with the unstrained juice.
The tomato demonstration really made me appreciate the different texture and flavour elements in the one simple fruit.
After the fun with tomatoes, we had oysters – yay! We had two different oysters – a Sydney rock oyster and a Tasmanian oyster, which was meatier and more robust. While preparing a garnish for the oysters – diced cucumber, beetroot jelly and a seafood sauce made with shallots, Noilly Prat, fish stock, and cream, along with a touch of fresh horseradish, we were told all about oysters – how they should always be served fresh, and to open them from the back to retain all the delicious liquid inside.
We stayed with seafood for the next course – an impressive looking appetizer that seemed oh so easy when Walter explained it to us. The appetizer was a salmon ballotine, served with cauliflower sauce and an endive salad with school prawns and spelt. The salmon had been deboned and skinned into two fillets. Gelatine leaves were sandwiched in between the fillets, and this was then rolled in herbs (dill, parsley, and chives) and then wrapped in glad wrap, before being cooked in 75°C water in the sink for 75 minutes. (Yep, the sink!) The gelatine melted during the cooking process, which firmed up the flesh and stuck the two fillets together.
After cooking, the salmon was sliced into rounds, and served on top of a cauliflower sauce. The cauliflower had been cooked into a sauce with quark and then chopped cauliflower was added back for some texture. This dish was about three textures: the wet sauce, the firm fish that melted in the mouth, and then the crunchy salad with shrimp and spelt. It was delicious and… I think I could make this. Walter assured us that it would be perfect for dinner parties as it looks like much more effort than it seemed. If I tried I’m pretty sure that mine wouldn’t be quite as impressive, but I do think it’s achievable. One day I’ll have to try it out.
On to main course – which was a herb crusted eye fillet served with potatoes and glazed vegetables stuffed with peas. Before I tell you about the food, can I say: HOMIGAWD WHAT IS UP WITH FRICKING PEAS. DEAR CHEFS PEAS ARE EVIL EVIL EVIL STOP USING THEM RAAAAARGH. Phew, okay, I feel much better. 😉
Instead of boiling vegetables, Walter glazed them – which means they were cooked in a high-ish heat with a bit of water and butter to retain the flavour and nutrients. I now use this technique to cook my vegetables instead of boiling. The roasted eye fillet had been rolled in a crust made with parsley, butter and a touch of thyme, and was served with a red wine sauce. It was delicious – well, except for the peas. Ewwwww.
We ended the class with dessert and a brief discussion on food styling. Walter talked us through how he has an idea in his head of what a dish should look like before he plates it – even drawing them occasionally to get the styling perfect. Dessert was panna cotta made with a mixture of cream and goat’s cheese. The goat’s cheese was there to lighten the panna cotta and reduce the richness. It was served with berries, saffron jelly and saffron syrup, and topped with edible flowers. Beautiful to look at, and so smooth and creamy to eat, though I must admit that the flowers didn’t add much to the taste. They were very, very pretty though.
It was such a fun night – I picked up several tips and tricks and came away with a newfound appreciation of tomato seeds and skin. And it’s not often that I can claim that I watched a chef with a Michelin star restaurant background cook a meal for me.
For more on the cooking class, check out I-Hua’s post.
[googleMap name=”Trupp Cooking School” width=”600″ height=”300″ directions_to=”false”]1/53 Barry St, South Yarra, VIC, Australia[/googleMap]
Trupp Cooking School
1/53 Barry Street
South Yarra VIC 3141
Phone: (03) 9826 9119