I’ve always felt like the most average person on the planet. I’ve tried my hand at loads of stuff over the years, but I’ve never been able to find my hidden talent. I’ve tried drawing (other than a half-decent Darth Maul when I was 12, no joy there), drumming (using both hands and both feet? Madness), fencing (let’s not go there) and fishing (eight sessions, zero catches). I couldn’t even make the A team at football and MY dad was the manager. So, as you can tell, bang-average (or worse) is pretty much where I’m at.
Then lockdown happened. Suddenly there were more hours in the day than I knew what to do with – a uniquely rare opportunity to get really good at something. So, naturally, I spent this time watching Louis Theroux documentaries and eating Kettle Chips by the bag. Then it hit me: I could greedily exploit Time Out’s partnerships in the world of celeb-studded online courses to make myself talented. After all, if Gordon Ramsay can’t teach me to cook, what hope is there? So, this is it. Through the power of MasterClass, I’m going to get good at one thing a week. Well, I’ll try at least.
Week two: Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking
You know how some people have a natural chemistry with cooking, a bit like an artist with a blank canvas? Yeah, that’s not me. It’s not that I am a terrible cook, I just have no feel for it whatsoever. When the method says ‘cook until lightly browned’ I immediately freeze. What kind of brown? Copper? Is copper even brown? I have no idea. So I’ve mostly stuck to the chief pot washer rôle. Until this week, that is. Let’s give it a go.
The course: If there was any doubt that it is the actual Gordon Ramsay presenting this course, it quickly evaporates when he starts dropping F-bombs every other sentence. That, combined with his soul-piercing stare and some overly-dramatic opening music, is enough to convince me I am going to be a good cook. Out of fear, if nothing else.
As I get through the initial lessons, Ramsay tells me a great cook needs great equipment. Good non-stick pots and pans, a high-quality knife collection, even a blowtorch and a smoking gun. Well clearly Gordon has never seen the kitchen in my student-esque house but I’m not even sure we have a potato peeler, let alone a bloody blowtorch. Nonetheless, I feel like I’ve learnt the basics and I’m ready to get going.
The meal: I’ve decided to start simple: poached egg with mushrooms and bacon on brioche toast. I’m sorry. I know you probably wanted me to attempt something like a leg of lamb, but in case you missed last week’s lesson, I’m already £30 in the hole, so egg it is. Also cooking the perfect poached egg is something that’s always eluded me, so I’m eager to master it.
It starts out pretty easy. I’ve got all the prep nailed, cutting with the proper technique. The bacon has cooked until browned (I hope) and the mushrooms are in there, too. I’m tossing them around the pan like a pro. Then I have to get the toast under the grill just before the egg goes in and the pressure ramps up. It’s all going on at once and it’s a lot to handle. With the water swirling like a whirlpool, the egg goes in. I’m sweating bullets now. Then the white wraps around the yolk like a beautiful Christmas present and I’m over the moon. Here we are, the finished dish.
The verdict: This is easily the most successful MasterClass I have done (did you not see that poachie?). I know it’s not very impressive to those of you who knock up stellar dishes every day but for me, it’s a big win. Granted, it took me about half an hour to do what Gordon manages in just eight minutes, but I’m chuffed. The egg is nice and runny, the mushrooms and bacon are salty and delicious and the perfectly-brown toast soaks up all the goodness. I even had my girlfriend verify the taste in case I was on some kind of post-cooking high. Two thumbs up. Thank you, Gordon. It might only be one (pretty simple) dish, but damn it, I CAN COOK.
Next up: Penn & Teller teach magic
Thank you to MasterClass for providing access to the course. You can check out its courses here.
Missed last week’s lesson? Read it here.