Teresa Mueller is enrolled on the Essential Cooking Certificate at Leiths. She’s taking the courses as a part-time ten-week evening course; others choose to do it online or during the day. Here’s what Teresa has to say about her experience.
What are you looking to get out of your Essentials course?
“I’m taking the Essentials course because I’ve been passionate about food for as long as I can remember. I’ve got a collection of over 1000 cookbooks, but even with all that reading, I’ve realised that I need to learn the techniques properly to consistently make delicious meals. Sometimes a recipe turns out great, but other times not so much, and I couldn’t always tell why. I’ve taken a few classes at Leiths before and was blown away by how friendly and approachable the teachers were. They were always happy to answer any questions I had, which made learning so much easier. I’m really excited to build on what I’ve learned so far and take my cooking skills to the next level with this course.”
What are you enjoying about the course?
“I’m absolutely loving the course so far! The teachers are just great – they really know their stuff, and I really enjoy that they’re teaching us versatile skills that we can apply to a variety of recipes, rather than just narrowing it down to a specific recipe. They’re always happy to answer any questions we have, and they’re great at helping us troubleshoot problems and make sure we’re set up for success when we try things at home. One thing that really stands out to me is how much the teachers explain the reasoning behind certain techniques. For example, when we were learning about knife skills, they talked about how the size of the cut can affect cooking time and the overall flavour, mouthfeel, and appearance of the dish. It’s fascinating stuff, and it really helps us understand why we’re doing what we’re doing. And then there’s the group of students – we’re all in a similar boat, juggling a “day job” with our passion for food. We’ve formed some great friendships and even started an active WhatsApp group to keep in touch and share tips and recipes. It’s a really supportive and fun environment, and I feel like I’m learning so much while also having a great time.”
What do you value about what you are learning?
“I can honestly say that every skill we’ve learned so far has been applicable to my home kitchen. The course structure and pacing are really well thought out, too. It’s not too rushed, but it definitely keeps us on our toes and builds our skills in a logical way. The thing that’s struck me the most is just how essential these skills truly are for any cook. The teachers do a great job of not only teaching us how to do something, but also explaining where and when we might use that skill in other cooking situations. It’s really interesting to see how things connect and build on each other, and I feel like I’m building a strong foundation of knowledge that I’ll be able to use for lots of new recipes and cuisines.’
How has your cooking been transformed so far?
“I’m thrilled to say that this course has really transformed my cooking skills and my confidence in the kitchen. I’m producing much better-looking and better-tasting food than ever before! One of the biggest changes has been in my approach to recipes. In the past, I used to follow (for example) a baking recipe to the letter, fully relying on the time indicated for success. But now, I’ve learned to rely on other cues to know when something is done – I know what colour, texture, and other indicators to look for, so I can tell when something is ready rather than having to blindly trust a recipe. It’s really satisfying, and it’s made my time in the kitchen so much more efficient and enjoyable. And then there are also the habits that I’ve picked up from the course – things like mise en place, cleaning as I go, and working back from a “service time” – which have made a huge difference in how I approach cooking. By being more organised and thoughtful about how I prep and execute a meal, I’m able to enjoy the process more and create dishes that are not only delicious, but also look beautiful on the plate. Overall, I feel like this course has given me a whole new level of confidence and skill in the kitchen, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.”
Why did you choose Leiths?
“I chose Leiths because I had such a positive experience attending a few of their one-day courses and open houses. The atmosphere at the school was really welcoming – it felt professional, yet at the same time, very friendly and open. I never felt intimidated to ask questions or share my thoughts, which was really important to me. For a long time, it’s been my dream to do the diploma programme, but I knew I wasn’t quite ready to make that kind of commitment. That’s why the essentials course was such a perfect fit for me. It gave me the chance to experience the Leiths style of teaching, the professional kitchen environment, and the types of skills I’d be learning, without having to quit my job or make any other major life changes. Now that I’m partway through the essentials course, I’m more excited than ever to look for ways to continue my journey at Leiths and I would love to enrol in the Chef’s skills programme later this year. The evening courses are such a great option for people like me who are passionate about food and cooking, but also need to balance other aspects of our lives. I’m really grateful to have found this programme and this community of fellow food lovers, and I’m excited to see how impressive my home cooking can get.”
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