So we were delighted to be invited to a Junior Chef weekend at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, where Flea would be taught how to cook by a team of professional chefs – result!
The Royal Garden Hotel is absolutely lovely – and unlike many 5 star hotels, it employs staff who seem to actually like children, resulting in a brilliantly friendly, attentive service. Our room was great – the best thing had to be the floor to ceiling windows with views over Hyde Park, which is next to the hotel, and the London skyline in the distance.
The next day, Flea and seven other children gathered together with the hotel’s executive chef, Steve Munkley and two assistant chefs, all of whom handled the kids brilliantly and didn’t bat an eyelid as the tables, floor, faces and walls got increasingly dusted with flour and other foodstuffs.
Each child was provided with their own workstation and the ingredients to make cookie dough, with the chefs on hand to provide demonstrations and a helping hand when it was needed. The children then rolled out their dough and cut out cookies, which were whisked off to be cooked in the hotel kitchens.
I should point out here that making cookies with a top professional chef is VIRTUALLY identical to that time I made cookies with Flea, except for the swearing, electrical mishaps, incorrect ingredients, lack of appropriate cutters and decapitation. Yep, apart from those things, it was exactly the same sort of thing.
The kids then moved on to an exotic fruit tasting session (in which I learned the secret to persuading your child to taste prickly pear, dragon fruit and kumquat is to wear a big white hat and present it on a silver platter). There was just time for some team games before returning to the kitchen to make chocolate truffles and then decorate the cooled cookies using huge bowls of sweets and cones of royal icing.
At the end of the morning, Flea was loaded down with a big box of cookies, a box of truffles, a cook book and her personalised chef’s hat and apron, as used during the junior chef lesson. And, brilliantly, it turns out that making cookies with a professional chef resulted in some of the finest cookies we’ve ever had in our house – they were delicious!
Sadly, I can’t completely remember the recipe details but I know there was flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, butter, melted white chocolate and white chocolate chopped up. I’m almost 100% confident I can recreate the Royal Garden Hotel experience in my own kitchen. How hard can it be?
We finished off our day by heading across the road to Hyde Park. We spent a great couple of hours in the park poring over a treasure map that’s devised by the hotel – when children have solved all the clues they can head back to the hotel to claim their ‘treasure’ in the form of a knickerbocker glory ice cream. Marvellous.
The Royal Garden Hotel has arranged two more Junior Chef workshops for October 2011 and April 2012, which can be booked as part of a 2-night break at the hotel. A great option if you’re planning a weekend trip to London.
Disclosure: We were provided with free accommodation, meals and activities for the purposes of this review. A 2-night package at the hotel for 2 adults and 2 children, including the Junior Chef workshop, costs £580 and includes dinner, breakfast and complimentary use of the on-site sauna and spa facilities.