Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Cooking Classes for 2010 will commence on Monday March 8 and run every Monday till Monday
May 11 when Sunnybrae goes on holidays till June 12 when the restaurant re-opens. We will definitely be doing a class on Easter Monday.
Classes will then re-commence on Monday June 14 which is the Queens Birthday holiday.
Classes begin at 9.30 for 10 am with a good coffee and a bite before we sit down informally to discuss the days ‘cooking. Bread baking in one form or other is always covered in every class and the wood oven is often also used if the occasion calls for it.
The format is to prepare a multi course seasonal lunch utilising the freshest and most interesting ingredients we can source from as close to Sunnybrae as possible.
The maximum class size is 12 this allows time to cover any specific questions or techniques that each participant may wish to explore.

All classes are hands on, but not like a formal class room, we divide all the tasks between the group and I demonstrate all techniques as required. We pick whatever is suitable from the garden and also source produce from the gardens of our neighbours.
You can also request techniques or use of ingredients with which you may not have much confidence or things that you may enjoy, but do not often get the chance to cook.
We sit down to lunch around 1.30pm and partners or friends can join us for lunch for $55 per person.Please bring an apron or you can purchase one of Diane’s designs.
Good sensible shoes, a sharp knife as well as a good sense of humour/adventure are also welcome.
Costs $110 person including wines and GST or $100 per person for groups of 4 or more
Standby: Call one day before on the Sunday and if there is room the same discount applies.
Telephone bookings only on 52362276

If you wish to stay in the area details are at

When we first began to present classes over 18 years ago we were determined to create an atmosphere as natural as possible where like minded people could get together learn some interesting techniques, discover some unusual seasonal ingredients and express in a practical way their food and wine interests in a convivial space and then join into a good discussion while enjoying the fruits of the day’s work. We get a good mix of keen amateur cooks, kitchen obsessives, industry members, and complete beginners that quickly grasp that you can get whatever level of skill and experience you need from our hands on classes. A professional cook will be interested in how to make 4 kilo of quenelles and then cook them as required but a home cook may wish to know how to cook 12 serves at once and not have a nervous breakdown during the dinner party. Each will get what they are looking from being a part of the workshop. The main difference between restaurant cooking and home cooking is that in a restaurant the menu and each dish is deconstructed to parts that are easy to assemble as required usually in great quantities. Our classes show how some of these skills can be used at home without staff and all the expensive gadgets that professional kitchens use.
I must be swimming against the tide. The current spate of cooking shows like Masterchef and such have added a very commercial style competitive edge to home cooking. Commercial television has made us believe that everybody wants to cook like a fashionable restaurant cook and call themselves a chef?

These commercial television shows survive on subliminal product placement and blitz marketing of the advertisers. If you think that it’s about getting young people involved and interested in cooking then I believe you have fallen for the spin. Celebrity chefs are also used to add a level of credibility and mystique that is tempered abruptly as the next Coles ad segues into a reinforcement of the last 6 product placements you just saw. It’s no use filtering out the ads as they are deeply positioned into all the content. Then there are also those annoying ads’ purporting to sell processed food as “Restaurant Quality”. Sadly the double meaning is more often the case. It used to be “Home Made” but that meaning has also been corrupted long ago.
I like television but most of these competition style shows are just so humourless. The only one that works for me is Iron Chef. I long for a cooking show equivalent of Rockwiz even the Coopers ads have style.
Families that have a strong link to cultural food traditions always understand that the finest cooking is kept in the home. Family comes first. Restaurants are for celebrations and social occasions and quite formal traditions apply to how these public occasions are used. One type of restaurant for business one for shmoozing, one for l'affaire and so on.  When you are invited to a traditional home for a meal you know the bonds are getting close.
In Australia many people always socialise even with close friends in a restaurant as they feel uncomfortable that a home cooked meal may not come up to the expectations of their guests.

The current culture of analysing every detail of a meal whether in a home or at a restaurant has severely distracted us from our dining companions. Recently during a 10 course degustation meal we were interrupted by our very personaable and professional waiter over 10 times giving us the detail of our bite sized courses and accompanying wines. To not engage in some sort of dialogue with him would hurt his highly trained sensibilities and could  make us feel uninterested in him and the food.  So we ask politely where does this come from? what is that? and before you know it you have spent the evening focussed purely on the food and wine when you really wanted to catch up with your friends and also savour some fine food and wine.
My Kitchen Rules and other such commercial television shows just perpetuate the battle-of-the-chefs syndrome.

Conviviality and hospitality are concepts that embrace both the restaurant and the home but have very different meanings in each context. At a restaurant you do not want the waiter to become your de-facto best mate or teacher and at a private home you do not expect the host to assume the role of a sommelier or a waiter. When you are comfortable with your culinary life the real purpose of sharing a table can be enjoyed.

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Thermomixer said...

Might have to have you & Di over for a meal to catch up sans dish details.

Anonymous said...

Hi George-I agree with so many points you raise in this post. I too am very cynical about the product placement in these reality cooking shows-in fact I reckon they were originally hatched in order to shift products, hence those ads you mentioned.
Whilst these shows suggest they are 'educating' their audiences to the ways of supposed better cooking, in fact the opposite is happening because of the stress & anxiety people place on themselves in order to cook that 'restaurant quality' meal.
Many are obviously destined to fail to achieve this of course & the marketers know this & provide, as you say, a 'restaurant quality product-their message being: dont bother trying, you'll muck up & we can sell you an alternative that works very time.
You see George & Curtis flogging this message & I feel it undermines their currency as chefs, look at John Lethlean's scathing broadside on Curtis Stone a few months back.
However this is not new. Keith Floyd (Rip) spent years slogging away at bringing the great heritage of British Cookery into the minds of people to which chefs & writers like Simon Hopkinson & Fergus Henderson can tip their hats, only to start telling us; Why bother, Maggi does it better everytime.
Finally your point about home cooked meals. Recently a mate did a bit of overdue slashing in my paddocks & as payment I suggesetd he & his missus come to the cafe for a meal, he said he'd prefer to eat at my home for the reasons you stated.

Alison said...

Hurray George! I don't get any of these cooking shows or the fascination with food as competition. The meals we have enjoyed most lately involve friends getting together and each bringing along something to add to the table - everyone brings along a bit of love and we all have a good time.
You might be interested in reading 'Eating Out, social differentiation, consumption and pleasure' by a couple of English sociologists Warde and Martens). It looks as though it might be a bit heavy going but stimulating stuff none-the-less. (I got my copy through Clouston and Hall remainders in Canberra - you can view their catalogue on the web).

Anh said...

Hi George,

Thanks so much for the tomatillos! They are amazing! Will have to visit you when I come around the area!