There’s no great mystery to cooking. Just master a few implements and the skills to use them properly, follow the recipe and the world is your oyster whether it’s the cuisine of India, Italy or Ethiopia.
It’s the former that’s the focus of the chef-instructors at Kitchen Riddles, a new cooking studio in south Burnaby. Learn proper technique, and the cuisine will fall into place.
The studio is the brainchild of a couple of young entrepreneurs, Antonio Engel and Morgan Mansfield, who wanted to take the concept of selling cookware as Engel’s father had done for years and turn it on its head. Working with veteran chef Daniel Riviere, they developed their own line of restaurant-grade cookware, including knives, and then added a fully-equipped teaching kitchen in the back.
But this is no faux suburban workspace with a giant mirror angled over the counter. Students here must prepare to shed a few tears cutting onions, singe a few hairs pouring Wiser’s whiskey into a hot pan.
“We want to help people overcome their fear of cooking,” says Riviere, who’s been a chef for more than 30 years, including 12 an an instructor at the Arts Institute in Vancouver. “You’ve got to get everybody involved. You’ve got to have fun.”
That fun starts with learning the fundamentals, like the difference between piano and French whisks; the former has a slightly rounded head making it ideal for use in shallow pans, while the latter is more elongated to reach the bottom of deeper pans.
“We give you the skills you can put to use in the kitchen any way you like,” says Mansfield, the studio’s knife expert.
And with the booming interest in food and cooking thanks to the 24-7 exposure of the Food Network, they’re finding no shortage of takers eager to overcome their fear of anything more complicated than boiling water.
“People like to be foodies,” says Riviere. “They want to try things at home, invite their friends and family.”
“People like to talk about food,” says Mansfield. “You can’t get away with bad food anymore.”