Friday, 5 November 2010

Sofitel Academy

I recently completed the second half of a five day training course down in Melbourne. As part of the preparation notes we were asked to take an item of personal value with us. Initially I was completely confused over what to take. When I arrived in Australia all I had with me was a suitcase full of clothes. I didn't think an old jumper would really cut it.

I was just about to call mum and ask her to send something over from home. However, I thought that if something was truly of personal significance I would have brought it with me. At this point I remembered that the only thing other than clothes in my suitcase when I arrived was my cookery knives. I thought meeting a bunch of strangers with a 20cm cooks knife might have been a bit confronting, so I settled on taking my knife bag instead.

When it was time for me to introduce my personal item, I talked about early cooking memories with my family, the cookery course I did after Uni, my random dinner with Jamie Oliver and about all the enjoyment food has brought me.

On the penultimate day of the course, when it was announced that we were going to be doing a team building event at the Sofitel Cookery Academy, everyone immediately wanted to be on my team. Oh no, what have I done! Perhaps I should have taken the jumper with a hole in it after all.

When we stepped into the kitchen all my nerves were gone and I was absolutely loving the experience! It was a real thrill to be in an industrial kitchen with all of the equipment and ingredients that it entails at our disposal.

We were divided into three teams to cook either the starter, main course or dessert. I was initially in the group cooking the starter, and elected head chef of my section. They played around with us a bit during the evening. Moving the teams around, but keeping the head chefs where they were. Then moving the head chefs but keeping the team members in their same position. I ended up on the main course with my original team.

By the end of the night I was famous for the 'onion incident'. When I arrived on the main course section I asked for more onions.  The first batch hadn't been thinly sliced and I didn't fancy huge lumps of onion in the sauce. The head chef of Sofitel liked my commitment to quality, but I think I might have offended a couple of people!

The starter was freshly made gnocchi with a sun dried tomato, spinach and pine nut sauce.

The main course (which no one took a photo of) was roast fillet of beef, pumpkin and potato rosti, spinach and the infamous caramelised onion sauce.

The dessert was a sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream.

At the end of the night the head chef was asked to nominate the best cook of the evening an there was a certain amount of pride when he nominated me. It was definitely my highlight of the entire course!

The cookery event was a surprise so I didn't have my camera with me. The above photos are dodgy iPhone shots courtesy of Peter.


  1. looks like a great deal of fun. It reminds me of my two years at professional cookery college after high school. Happy days!

  2. I can't help noticing the rather large and reassuringly empty beer glass next to you in the first kitchen photo!

  3. I wasn't drinking, too busy chopping!

  4. What great fun you had!

  5. What a great suprise! So when can I come for dinner? ;) I'll bring cookies =p

  6. That's such a great experience! Sounds like fun :-)