Simon’s Fine Food Cooking Class – Irresistable Italian

gnocchi [ˈnɒki or ˈnjɒki]: (in Italian cooking) Small dumplings made from potato, semolina, or flour, usually served with a sauce (Wikipedia)

Gnocchi & Chicken

Leftover gnocchi and chicken in a white wine pesto sauce

I love cooking. I am always looking for ways to improve my cooking and increase my repertoire. My dream would be to open up a small restaurant using quality ingredients prepared simply so when John bought me a cooking class with Simon Reynolds of Simon Fine Foods here in Saskatoon I couldn’t wait.

Simon is a trained chef with over 20 years of experience, working in many parts of the world like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. He once owned Simon’s British Flavors here in town and now teaches cooking classes, as well as caters and provides private chef services. He offers a number of different classes ranging from $50-60 that can be viewed here. The class I signed up for was Irresistable Italian with a menu consisting of: potato and nutmeg Gnocchi, mushroom and shallot cream sauce, tomato salad with balsamic and pesto dressing, parmesan and herb tray focaccia, and orange and rasberry biscotti. Yum!

As this was my first cooking class I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I’ve seen shows on television where wannabe chefs stand around a table taking notes while the instructor goes through the process. I packed the required items of a chopping board, knife and small containers for leftovers as well as a second knife, pen and notebook just incase I needed to take notes (which I ended up not needing). The class ran approx. 2 hours with time afterwards to enjoy our creations and take home leftovers.

Parmesan and herb tray focaccia

Parmesan and herb tray focaccia

Simon’s Fine Foods is easy to find – it’s located in the Avalon strip mall and his signage is easy to spot. I arrived 10 minutes early as suggested on his site only to find out that I was the last to arrive (hopefully I wasn’t late as the site mentioned classes starting at 6:30). The place was exactly how I pictured it would be. It was clean and organized, with cooking shelves against the front and left wall, 2 stainless steel counters in the center, sinks against the right wall and an oven and stove at the back. Our class was smaller in size – we initially sat around a table as Simon introduced himself (or everyone was just sitting there waiting for me to arrive :S). We proceeded to put on the provided cloth aprons and went to the counters to start our class.

Cranberry and Orange Biscotti

Cranberry and Orange Biscotti

The class was very hands on, starting with each of us learning how to make gnocchi from scratch. Along the way, Simon would provide pointers and reasons why certain techniques were used. He was open to answering any questions we had, even questions that may not have related to the theme of the class. As the class progressed we were assigned different tasks such as slicing and peeling different items. At one point I was assigned to make the biscotti which I’ve never made before and enjoyed doing so. I don’t want to go into the specifics of the class as I believe Simon’s classes are worth signing up for and experiencing things first hand. We finished the class on time and was able to sit down and enjoy our creations. I wish I had a picture of our finished creations but you’ll have to make due with pictures of the leftover focaccia, gnocchi and biscotti I took home. I would definitely recommend signing up for one of Simon’s classes as he is knowledgeable and personable.