London's best food tours and cooking classes
Thanks to these fab spice tours and cooking classes, it's easy to add exciting new dishes from different culinary traditions to your weekly menu.
The first tip to getting authenticity in your cooking? It's all about the spices - and you don't need to buy overpriced, underwhelming ones (that aren't even packaged to maximise flavour) from your local supermarket. Get out to the grocers who specialise in the cuisine you're looking for, or, failing that, check out Rooted Spices, single-origin spices and blends like Japanese Shichimi Togarashi or Syrian Aleppo Pepper Pul Biber (if you're heading to the V&A's FOOD: Bigger Than The Plate exhibition, you can stock up on these in the gift shop after - they happen to make fab gifts).
Once you've sorted the spice rack, it's time to enhance your cooking repertoire. Thanks to these fab spice tours and cooking classes in London, it's easy to add exciting new dishes from different culinary traditions to your weekly menu...
Photo: Yuki's Kitchen
Professional chef and cookery teacher Yuki Gomi teaches students how to recreate delicious Japanese dishes at home through her range of classes, which include sushi courses, ramen and street food classes, as well as specialist workshops - there's one on the intricacies of cooking udon noodles coming up, for example - all done in her Crystal Palace kitchen. While you can choose from the array of scheduled classes available online here (the schedule is accommodating, with options in the afternoons, evenings and weekends), you can also contact Yuki to organise a more personalised class and experience.
For hands-on Vietnamese cooking lessons, check out London Fields' Uyen Luu, and learn to make delicacies like summer rolls, Bo La Lot (minced beef wrapped in betel leaves), Banh Xeo pancakes, roasted seabass, Chinese mustard leaf soup, braised pork belly, banana fritters and more. If you're worried that you'd never have the confidence to get the required ingredients yourself when you try cooking this deliciousness at home, then opt to head to the Vietnamese supermarkets in the neighbourhood with the chef post-class, to stock up on cupboard essentials and must-have brands.
Photo: Chilli and Mint
Chilli and Mint
Spice-obsessed Torie runs Chilli and Mint, teaching Indian cooking classes to groups and teams out of her south London home. As part of the class, you get a tour of Tooting's best Indian and Sri Lankan grocers, like Patel Brothers, as well as an intro to vegetables and herbs they definitely don't sell at Waitrose (okra, chilli leaves, asafetida powder) - she even shows you handy pots to store spices in and stylish serving bowls and platters for when you cook up that Indian feast for the family, which you most definitely will. Back at her place, you start cooking as a group, with six different courses including a curry, vegetable dal, a street food snack, chutney and naan bread. Trust us, there's no better feeling than wowing everyone you know with homemade pakoras.
Photo: Mimo London
This Borough Market based cookery school offers classes on everything from the Best of Borough Market to an Afternoon Tea experience, as well as family-friendly sessions including breadmaking, cheesemaking and chocolate treat crafting. Since Mimo also has locations in Spain and Portugal (it hails from the Iberian peninsula), you'd be well-placed to try one of their sessions focusing on those cuisines, where you can learn how to prepare Basque fish specialties and Portuguese Pastéis de Belém. Food and market tours and Meet the Trader tours are another great way to build confidence and learn about new ingredients and dishes.
Photo: Chocolate Ecstasy Tours
Chocolate Ecstasy Tours
If you prefer your spices enrobed in layers of chocolate, then you'll enjoy the sweet-tooth tours from Chocolate Ecstasy. They cover every sweet fanatic's fantasies, taking you around Mayfair's storied dessert venues or on a chocoholic's tour of London, where you can try chocolate in its many forms (why yes, that does include chocolate as a cocktail). Many of these tours are also family-friendly, and if you can't find what you're looking for on the calendar, you can book in for a bespoke tour with founder Jennifer Earle. We'd like a Roald Dahl-inspired sweets tour, please.