World tour of food you do in your own kitchen: Alexandra Shulman discovers how everyone can be global chefs thanks to ingenious video cook-alongs
- A Cook’s Tour sees participants get a box of ingredients sent to their door
- The box is accompanied by instructions and a live video link to a cook-along
- They are guided by famous chefs such as Angela Hartnett or Thomasina Miers
Going global: The kind of Vietnamese dishes you can be taught to cook at home
Vietnamese Pho, Texan barbecue beans, Beirut street food – how glorious to taste them in their indigenous settings. But right now that’s not an option. So rather than settling for what is often third-rate takeaway, I took part in A Cook’s Tour that encourages us to be our own global chefs.
The basic idea is a box set of ingredients accompanied by instructions and a live video link to a cook-along, guided by a famous chef such as Angela Hartnett or Thomasina Miers.
Alternatively, there’s the option to watch on your own and cook it independently. The first-rate ingredients are fresh so there’s a two-day time frame.
I tried both versions – the first a Vietnamese feast that included making papaya salad, wagyu beef pho and a coconut rice pudding which I followed live.
The second was a bountiful Lebanese spread, taught by an Ottolenghi chef which I watched and cooked the following night.
This is hugely enjoyable for anyone who loves to cook new recipes and experiment with techniques. But the clue is in the word ‘cook’. This is not one of those easy assembly boxes which you just have to plate up.
My Lebanese encounter included making pita bread (who knew what fun it would be to see the dough rise in the pan) and stuffing sardines (both tricky and ultimately delicious).
An example of the ‘bountiful’ Lebanese spread, taught by an Ottolenghi chef, which Alexandra attempted to recreate
Alexandra Shulman, who described A Cook’s Tour as ‘delightfully absorbing’
Filling Vietnamese vegetarian rice paper rolls required particular dexterity.
Unpacking the box with its myriad of tiny cartons and 100 per cent recyclable packages is as exciting as digging into a Christmas stocking.
More challenging is following the speed of the chef – I recommend commandeering a sous chef to help with some of the slicing and chopping so that you can get on with the real work, such as wrapping sardines in clarified butter-drizzled Kataifi – a string-like Lebanese pastry.
The live cook-along is fun because there is a chat box to communicate with fellow at-home chefs, but doing one in my own time worked best for me.
I was able to uncork the bottle of delicious red from the Bekaa Valley’s Chateau Musar which arrived as part of the box (paired alcohol is optional) and take my time assembling a platter of blood orange-dressed tabbouleh and roast the richly spiced poussin.
Either way the results are delicious and the process delightfully absorbing.
- A Cook’s Tour: live fortnightly cook-alongs with ingredients delivered to your door (from £60 for two). Visit acookstour.co.uk.