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Dirty Apron Cooking School makes learning new techniques a delicious experience

Since I began trying to change myself from a lazy food re-heater to a self-taught home cook, I've always been ready to just jump into the deep end and teach myself new techniques and recipes from cookbooks, cooking shows and the internet (thank you, elderly Jewish grandma on YouTube who taught me how to roll bagels properly). But other than learning from my family, friends, and the odd community class, I haven't really had the chance to learn from a trained chef in a cooking class environment.

Enter Dirty Apron Cooking School in Vancouver, where I had the extreme pleasure and privilege to attend a fascinating four hour class last weekend focused around cooking (and eating!) a three course German festive dinner with Buy Local. Eat Natural.

The Dirty Apron Cooking School and Delicatessen is located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, and houses a state-of-the-art cooking 'classroom', an adjoining dining room to sit and enjoy the dishes prepared, and a full-service delicatessen  featuring daily take-out specials from the kitchen, and shelves crammed with all the spices, oils and implements that any cook would love to have in their kitchen.

The Dirty Apron classes are hands-on and that's part of the pleasure of the experience. Each course we made last weekend began with the class watching Chef David Robertson prepare the dish, sharing knife and prepping techniques as he cooked in front of us.

After watching Chef Robertson, we each went back to our own cooking station to prep and cook what we had just learned. As someone who grows her own vegetables and does A LOT of prepping at home, the fact that our pre-measured ingredients (mise en place) were all provided for us was an unexpected bonus. While we did have some prep to do on each dish, having everything laid out in advance allowed for us to focus right onto the techniques we had just learned and get right to cooking.

As the entire class cooks side-by-side at adjoining stations, then goes into the dining room and eats together for each course, a friendly and supportive attitude settled in as we worked through the evening, laughing over mistakes and celebrating how impressive everyone's individual dishes were coming out.

Chef Robertson and his assistants remained helpful and attentive throughout the evening, offering extra tips and tricks and the odd splash of quince vinegar or truffle oil - Dirty Apron ingredients are exceptional and it showed in the flavour of our dishes.

From our first course of simple but flavour-packed apple soup, to learning how to make spaezle from scratch as our stuffed pork sizzled in the ovens, I was in cooking heaven all evening. It was really wonderful to see first-time cooks, experienced home 'chefs' and professionals all learning together and celebrating excellent British Columbia ingredients.

I cannot recommend Dirty Apron Cooking School enough for anyone who wants to expand their cooking knowledge in a state-of-the-art setting with great mentors and a fun atmosphere. There are a variety of different themed classes throughout the year, including Italian and French, while others focus on techniques like cooking meat on the bone, or transforming the British Columbia fall harvest into a feast. Chef David Robertson and Chef Takashi Mizukami take the teaching lead for most classes and occasionally welcome guest instructors including (be still, my Indian-cooking-loving heart) Vikram Vij, Canadian culinary legend.

Until I get to return for another class, I'll be eyeballing the beautiful gift baskets in Dirty Apron's online store. I've already decided "The Chef" is going on my dream gift list. Thanks again to everyone at The Dirty Apron and Buy Local. Eat Natural for an exceptional culinary evening. I've already made spaezle twice since returning home, and my Dirty Apron apron hanging in my home kitchen inspires me to keep learning and keep cooking. 

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