Learning to cook up a stormPosted 1st July 2023
Last month, Pulse Magazine contributor Emma-Rose Norris was lucky enough to be invited down to Milton Keynes Cookery School’s Street Food Evening Masterclass to learn the ropes of three very different, yet tantalisingly tasty, cuisines.
The idea for MK Cookery School began one year whilst Bav – the owner – was working for Pizza Express; after having won best performing restaurant, the staff were treated to a team-building cookery experience at Venturi’s Table – the UK’s first corporate Cookery School. Bav, who has always had a passion for food, loved every second of her experience and realised that running something similar was her dream: and so the idea for MK Cookery School was born.
‘As I am often eating it, cooking it or trying out different restaurants, I just thought “why not? I’m sure I’ll be fine doing this as I love everything about food!” Needless to say, it did entail a lot more than that!’
After initiating the venture in 2017, the school has gone from strength to strength – although Bav openly admits that the amount of working hours she puts in are somewhat overwhelming, she wouldn’t change a second of her experience.
‘With the help of my husband Sam, along with the rest of my family, I persevered. They have been with me from the beginning and I can’t thank them enough for helping with last minute shopping; stepping in for dishwashing duties – there’s been LOTS after classes; fixing things when they break – thank goodness Sam’s a tradesman – and for generally just being there for me.’
As we pulled up to the Cookery School, located at Brooklands Farm in Broughton, I was nervous but most-definitely excited – as a big foodie, what more could you want from an evening than delicious food and cocktails? When we stepped through the door, my nerves instantly dissipated when we were greeted by Bav, who was exceptionally warm and full of smiles. With a glass of prosecco now in hand, it was time to meet the other chefs and attendees.
Whilst we started to socialise, Bav explained how the evening would run – it was evident that she really knew her stuff; everything was extremely well-planned, organised and thought-out. We would be put into small groups and travel around the ‘world’ in our four different hot-spots. With clean surfaces and hands, efficient chefs and helpers and friendly faces all round, we were ready to cook!
First up were the cocktails – we were tasked with making a Mojito with Michael from Papi’s Cocktails. Throughout the tutorial, we learnt how to make a true classic the traditional way and were given professional hints which would take our homemade cocktails to the next level. We particularly liked the fact that the cocktail they taught was super accessible and used easy-to-source supermarket ingredients. In fact, the same could be said for every dish and drink.
Each person received two cocktail tokens that were included in the price, which meant I could sample ample amounts of Papi’s Chilli Passionfruit Margarita which is, for all intents and purposes, probably my most-loved cocktail. The sweetness from the fruit and spicy notes from the Tajin rim make this an unbeatable drink – just don’t tell my mixologist brother! Their Piña Colada was also my partner’s best ever version of the classic.
Next was our first culinary venture – Mexican Pulled Pork Soft Tacos, taught by ‘Auntie Em’ from Auntie Em’s Kitchen. I was thrilled as Mexican is one of my favourite cuisines to cook at home. I can truly say, after having been taught how easy and delicious it is to make homemade tortillas, I won’t be buying a shop-bought version ever again! Another real bonus was that we were able to make the guacamole hot ‘to taste,’ which suited me as a spice-lover!
Then came the Thai Sui-Mei Dumplings and dipping sauce, taught by Chef Ni from Thai Home Cooking. As someone who has never been able to eat out at a Thai restaurant due to a severe nut allergy, this was the hotspot I was most trepidatious about, yet Chef Ni made it clear that she was well-versed in allergy restrictions; I was able to eat everything I made, and boy was I pleased! The Sui-Mei Dumplings were somehow both soft, moist and crispy on the bottom and, once again, we were able to create our dipping sauce to suit our own spice and garlic preferences – which meant I could put plenty in! Chef Ni’s incredible Thai Green Chicken and Thai Green Vegetable Curries were the perfect accompaniment to the dumplings.
Finally we made our way to ‘India’ to make some Chaat Masala Samosas, where we were taught by Bav herself. These were absolutely everything you could want in a street-food dish. Granted, it took me a while to master the art of folding a samosa (which may or may not, at this point, be down to the amount of cocktails I had consumed!) but the time and patience it took was well-worth it. The finished dish was as pretty as it was tasty and I was elated that it was topped with one of my favourite curries – Chana Masala – which was cooked to absolute perfection.
The evening didn’t feel rushed at all; a few cocktails meant that we were even more sociable than usual and stayed a smidge past the expected end, yet we weren’t ushered out – this was truly an amazing experience. The variety of options for other courses on offer at the school mean that it is an activity that can be easily repeated. We not only had plenty of hands-on time to cook up a storm and watch the experienced chefs at work, but we were also able to enjoy our time relaxing, meeting and socialising with others and, of course, devouring the fruits of our labour with 3 delicious dishes and cocktails at the end of each of the classes, plus leftovers to take away. Bav even ensured that the recipes we created were emailed out to us later on in the week, meaning we can now recreate them again and again. What more can you ask?
As someone who likes to think of themselves as a pretty decent home-cook, I thought – without sounding too immodest – I might enjoy the experience, but not necessarily take away too many new skills, but I was proven so wrong. On the other hand, my partner – who is a self-proclaimed kitchen avoider – ultimately enjoyed the evening just as much as I did. The owner, Bav, was evidently so passionate about her craft and gave us all tips we could take away for life, but sorry – if you want to know the tricks of the trade, you’ll have to book up! So, whether you’re a complete novice or a kitchen pro, there really is something for everyone at Milton Keynes Cookery School.
> Emma is our resident restaurant reviewer. If you would like her to visit and review your restaurant get in touch at
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About MK Cookery School
At Milton Keynes Cookery School, you can choose from over 20 classes ranging from 2 hour masterclasses; 4 hour sessions; half-day or full-day courses, which are all taught by the school’s highly-experienced chefs.
You’ll get plenty of time to perfect your cooking skills, and you’ll also get to relax and enjoy the experience with a delicious meal at the table at the end of the class.
MK Cookery School’s cooking lessons are designed to be informative and hands-on – but they are easy-going enough that you’ll have fun while you learn. Whether you’re flying solo, attending in a pair or you’re part of a bigger group, their flexible lesson space has you covered. It’s also a great location for corporate events, birthday parties or special occasions.
Keep your eye out on their social media for pop-up events (like the one I attended!) too.So, what are you waiting for?
Follow MK Cookery School on:
Or check out their website to book from a variety of daytime and evening classes on offer: mkcookeryschool.co.uk