Let us tell you something entirely truthful about cooking. If you don’t learn to cook at the hand of someone who truly, truly loves it, then you will miss out on the secret ingredient that will make every dish you create taste delicious – passion. Should you be lucky enough to walk through the doors of Dublin Cookery School, and come across its owner, Lynda Booth, you will meet one of the most passionate teachers in the country. A lifelong dream realised, DCS offers courses that will inspire and entice, but most of all equip its students with skills that will make all of your kitchen adventures thoroughly enjoyable ones. We were lucky enough to attend an end of course banquet created by the three month certificate students a few years ago, and meeting them was testament to what this school is about. Students left the course filled with vim and vigour; but most of all, the capability to walk into any kitchen and create a meal from whatever ingredients are to hand. We sat down with Lynda to find out a few of her kitchen secrets. Here’s what she had to say.
What are the three most common kitchen fears that your students bring to a cookery course with you?
Fear of appearing foolish, fear of making mistakes, fear of poisoning the rellies. I think that men who come are generally less fearful. One thing is that they tend not to mind what other people think whereas some women can worry too much about how they might be perceived. That’s why we lighten the atmosphere from the start. It’s all about having fun. As regards mistakes, they can be a great way of learning and seeing how to recover from them.
What is the greatest kitchen secret you have ever learned?
I am constantly learning new secrets. In a way that is what a cookery school is – a chance to pass on secrets. One of my favourites is to hold back some of the water in which pasta has been cooked. The starch from cooking the pasta adds body to the sauce and yet lightens it at the same time. You can be adding extra liquid without adding extra richness.
Where do you get your food inspiration from? Do you come from a family of foodies?
I grew up in Boyle, Co. Roscommon, which is not a hotbed of foodies although we always ate well – happy memories of my Dad’s brown trout at this time of year. My inspiration comes from three sources. When I eat a great meal, I often manage to weasel my way into the kitchen. Secondly, I read. I just love cookery books. I would have hundreds on my shelves but there are probably fifty I come back to again and again because of the way they are written as well as their inspirational ideas. And thirdly I am in the lucky position of being able to invite top chefs to come to the school.
What do you REALLY eat for dinner? What’s in your fridge right now?
I try to avoid shopping and cooking on the same day. So there’s usually the making of a meal or two at any time in the fridge. At the top of the fridge at the moment, there is a jar of harissa and a jar of wild garlic oil. The harissa is great mixed into roasted vegetables, rice or on chicken or fish. The garlic oil is a perfect base for pasta. I have some meat left over from the weekend and I love Marks & Sparks Santini tomatoes. I happen to have a pile of Irish cheese because I am just back from the Bloom festival but I would be careful never to run out of my beloved Parmigiana Reggiano which lifts so many dishes. We have just been making our own ricotta in the school recently so I have some of that at the moment. It’s a great starting point for a salad.
If you had one wish for every student who comes through your school, what would it be, and why?
Eat one thing you love every day. In my case it would be something sweet, even just a bite.
Lynda Booth’s Dublin Cookery School offers a wide range of evening, weekend and one week cooking classes and full-time Three Month and One Month Certificate cookery courses as well as being a popular venue for corporate events. To find out more, log onto www.dublincookeryschool.ie
For a sample of Lynda’s delicious recipes, check them out here