At Prague's Chef Parade cooking classes, they're serving up great meals - and some invaluable lessons too.
As living in the train station wasn't an option, I found the metro entrance, then the ticket box, and finally the convenience store that provided change through the purchase of a Snickers bar. I found the right metro train and then even the right tram, which stopped precisely in front of our hotel. Whew! As I stepped onto Prague's cobblestones for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the most incredible smell; the onion-y, savory aroma from someone cooking a mouthwatering meal. There was music playing in the square and I finally exhaled. And I started to laugh. That's when I knew that Prague and I were going to get along just fine.
This Prague cooking class is in a class all its own.
We couldn't wait to get the full experience and become better acquainted with Czech food and wine! But it turned out that cooking lessons were just the tip of the iceberg. Here's what else our Chef Parade class taught us about food, travel, and life.
Good things come in unexpected places.
We also couldn't get over how affordable everything was. A huge bag of blue plums was the equivalent of a dollar! If you want an off-the-beaten-path destination in Prague, or even just an fantastic haul of groceries, head to Holesovice.
(Oh: And always have both written directions and a map with you when heading onto uncertain turf when you have a deadline!)
Waste not, want not.
I had always composted at home but I never considered turning all those carrot tops and parsnip peels into an actual usable product. Stock takes all those throwaway items and turns them into a nutritious, flavorful addition to any recipe. So now I keep my compost bin for things like eggshells and coffee grounds and maintain a sealed container in the fridge for all my daily vegetable bits. I make a weekly batch of stock and decant it into a Mason jar. Whenever a recipe calls for water or broth, that's what I bring out. I even got some stock bones from the butcher's to add a little oomph! Nothing has been so easy and so cheap and has had such a powerful impact on my cooking.
Just try it.
I would absolutely have kohlrabi again and I think it's the perfect ingredient for coleslaw and salads and veggie and dip platters. Munching on the crunchy, tangy slices reminded me how seldom I add new ingredients to my regular grocery list but how often I should.
Go slow and steady.
All day, I was amazed by how such simple components - nothing expensive, nothing unusual - were turned into such wondrous dishes. All were made exquisite with patience. It's a lesson I should well emulate in all cooking and all travels. Sometimes you need to slow down and smell the roses - or re-chop and carefully stir the onions!
Obviously not every day can start with wine and end with a pool of melted butter but that hasn't stopped me from buying new wines at home, as well as digging out old cookbooks to drum up some old-is-new fruit crisp recipes.
Full stomachs and full hearts.
But this class has stayed with me like no other. It's changed how I shop, how I cook, and how I approach food. I knew from the moment I stepped off the tram in Prague that I was going to fall in love with the city but I had no idea at the time just how long term that relationship would be. It feels like the lessons of Chef Parade are in my kitchen and in my life every day.
- To learn more about proper onion chopping techniques so you don't disgrace yourself in public like I did, click here.
- To read reviews of our favourite Prague accommodations, The Nicholas Hotel Residence, you can compare information on Trip Advisor, Hotels Combined, and Expedia.
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