Cooking classes are in the midst of a revival, and Sachie Nomura just so happens to agree.
Afterall, the passionate homecook-turned-entrepreneur is the brains behind one of Australasia's most popular cooking schools – Sachie’s Kitchen.
Between juggling her cooking workshops and generating fresh new recipes, Sachie spends her time travelling throughout Asia, designing degustation menus, television presenting and developing new recipes for her loyal following. To date, over 50,000 New Zealanders have been through Sachie’s Kitchen with millions more watching her demonstrations on the small screen – her television show is broadcast in over 35 countries.
It's refreshing then when we catch up with Sachie, to learn that humility is at the heart of it all.
Tell me a bit about how you got your start in the industry?
Sachie: "I had come to New Zealand to learn English, after getting a degree in Chinese, and was working at a 5-star hotel in Auckland city. One day, I received news from a colleague that their friend had passed away suddenly, from a heart attack. This was a light bulb moment for me, it made me question what I wanted to actually achieve in my life. I could hear my Mum’s voice in my head saying “if there is something you really want to do, go for it". So, I went back home, I locked myself in our second bedroom and drew a mind map, of all of my dreams. It didn’t take long to realise that I knew what I wanted to do. I had been cooking all my life. Food and people were my passion – so I just needed to figure out how to connect the two.
Why do you think cooking classes are so popular?
"I believe a lot of interest has come back to cooking in the home. Because of the popularity of reality television and cooking shows on TV, there is a renewed healthy interest. This is combined with people being more interested in learning new skills and techniques in the kitchen."
What do you think people gain from attending a one-off cooking class, as opposed to say, enjoying dinner out at a restaurant?
"I personally love going out to dinner with friends, every once in a while, to get inspired by other chefs. However, while you're not putting in the work to create the dishes, the downside is that you won’t be going home with the secret recipes. Cooking classes are the total opposite – we share all of our recipes and knowledge, people learn new tricks and skills that they can practically use at home. Another bonus, we end up doing the majority of the dishes for you, too."
In terms of skill, how much is covered during your classes?
"We teach 3 recipes per class, within the two and a half hours. We demonstrate first so that you will know what to cook, how to cook and what condiments to use. Our style is to stay approachable and simple, and there are lots of jokes shared by all. We want people to ask questions. Then, it's your turn to cook. Our chefs and assistant chefs travel around the room during the class to help, if you need it. At the end of the class, you enjoy the complete meal that you made, with everyone."
Are classes for everybody? From the talented home cook to a complete newbie?
"Absolutely – Asian flavours are still quite a mystery to a lot of people. If you are a home cook, we will give you more tips and tricks. If you are a newbie in the kitchen, no problem. We have plenty of hands on deck to help you out and give you a sense of confidence when cooking."
Do you think Asian food is a good place to start when it comes to covering “the basics”?
"I think whatever cuisine that you like most, that’s the cuisine you should start learning first. You need to have an interest in eating the food that you're producing, which should motivate you to start covering the basics. If you like baking, start with that. If you like Asian food, choose the cuisine that you like the most, say, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese or Indian and go from there. Think about what it is that you enjoy eating – that’s the first step."
Have you ever experienced any particularly memorable kitchen nightmares?
"We had a flood in the kitchen once, that was an absolute nightmare. We do a secret lunch service from our school, between Monday and Friday, and one day we just heard this gurgling sound. I looked down at the floor and there was water, everywhere. Within five minutes, the entire floor was submerged. Luckily, I remembered where the water main was, in enough time to turn off the pump. Needless to say, there was a lot of cleaning to do."
To learn more about Sachie or to book a cooking class at Sachie's Kitchen in Parnell, Auckland, simply visit her website right here.