Ministry of Food Classes
Hello and welcome to my blog!
This week I have been lucky enough to experience a Ministry of Food class, and wanted to do my best to give you a good idea of what goes on. I have been cooking for as long as I can remember, but I have definitely always given preference to baking. As I’m a third year University student I’ve been rather busy of late, so I’m making the same dishes night after night. This is getting rather boring and I decided it was time to shake things up a bit!
I live in Newcastle, so popped along to the class in Byker. I had not realised that there was a class in the area until recently, but I'm very glad that there is. The kitchen is a short walk from the Metro station, nice and easy to find and very cheap to access. The building itself is small, but definitely not easy to miss!
When I arrived the staff were incredibly welcoming. Iris was the instructor in charge of the class and there were two lovely volunteers to help us along. I was very impressed with the set up inside. There were multiple tables, each held two cooking stoves and various other pieces of kitchen equipment.
The class was a large mix of people, some were accomplished cooks looking for new recipes and others were complete beginners, most people had come alone but everyone was friendly. Our goal for the evening was to use fresh mince to make a burger as well as some meatballs in tomato sauce.
To begin with trays were brought out to us with the ingredients we would be using. I really liked the way this was done, as it made sure that we could just concentrate on the important bits instead of faffing with making sure we had the exact amounts of everything. Our first task was bashing up some crackers to add to the mince which everyone attended with gusto, then it was time to get our hands messy!
Making up the mixture was very simple, and I was impressed to see that everyone in the class had been taught basic knife work in the previous weeks (luckily my boyfriend is a professional cook and had taught me how to chop properly with a chef’s knife, or I would have been completely lost!) There was also a lot of hygiene education; we used one board to chop the herbs we added to the mix and another to shape the burgers and meatballs when we were done. This was demonstrated to us, and then we were released back to our work stations to shape our burgers and meatballs.
After warming our pans, Iris explained how to cook our burgers, ensuring they were cooked through but didn’t burn (a difficult skill to master on a camping stove!) While we waited for them to brown everyone was allowed to assemble their burger buns as well as dressing. The finished products looked (and smelled) very appetising and luckily for us the organisers accepted that most people in the class had been at work or otherwise engaged all day, so let us eat the burger (which we did rather quickly) while we browned our meatballs and chopped the ingredients for the sauce.
Once again there was a step by step demonstration on how to make the sauce. Iris explained all of the ingredients, as well as the order to add them in and various people were on hand during the process to help. Though I have made basic tomato sauces before I am not usually quite so precise and have a tendency to throw everything in together and hope for the best. It was nice to see the results that having a bit more patience (not much more, it doesn’t take too long to cook some onions!) produced. We also used balsamic vinegar which I have never cooked with before. Being able to experiment with things I could never afford to buy just to test is definitely a bonus of the Ministry of Food classes.
It may not look that appetising, but it tasted great! Each class is only £5 and we definitely used our money’s worth of ingredients. The room itself is very basic, but it’s incredible what has been done with the space. Camping stoves are incredibly ingenuitive, allowing ease of movement when the staff travel between locations. The Ministry of Food is not stationary and Iris and volunteers regularly cook with the users of various outreach centres in the local area. The use of gas also means that we are able to control the heat of pans more easily as it is so responsive.
All in all, this was an excellent experience and I’d recommend it to anyone! If there’s a kitchen in your area then sign up. You get to bring home everything you make, and the food lasted us for three meals each (which is pretty good value for a fiver.) The class is suitable for anyone to attend, I took my boyfriend and we went as a couple, others were there alone and a family group would definitely have fun. Iris is a food technology teacher, so very capable of teaching younger people too. Jamie’s Ministry of Food is enjoyable, no matter what your cooking ability, so whether you go to gain cookery skills, some new recipes or techniques or just to meet some new people it will definitely be worth it. If you get the chance, go!"
For more information on Jamie's Ministry of Food:
That sounds great , I am hoping to take some of these classes soon , so will let you know how I get on .
I was interested to see you used those single ring gas stoves , I bought a couple of them last week for one of my daughters , thinking that 1 was good but with 2 you could make a decent meal whilst camping.
I also have one in my garden shed for when I need a bit of extra hob space , times like Christmas or when there is a load of people to feed , they are really useful .
I am looking forward to a trip to the ministry of food.
by mr spice
Glad you enjoyed the experience
Great value, I remember going to cookery classes at night school (30 years ago). Great fun. Byker, is that where ant or dec origionate from? Recomend a portable gas cooker. I use mine so much. Anything smelly outside on the gas cooker it goes. I even took it to London once, greatsteak sandwich from Barecoda and Borough mrkt.
Checking out MOF next, In Germany at the moment , so it may be a while before I get there.