This November, Australia’s leading provider of hands-on cooking experiences, Sydney Seafood School, will celebrate its 30th anniversary with an unforgettable program of new events and guest chefs.
Sydney Seafood School opened in November 1989 with cooking classes hosted by Serge Danserau (The Bathers’ Pavilion, then head chef of The Regent Hotel), Charmaine Solomon (cookery writer and television presenter), Peter Doyle (previously of est., then at Le Trianon) and master sushi chef Hideo Dekura.
Seafood School manager Roberta Muir (who’s been at the helm for 22 of those 30 years) says: “The School’s first program is like an archaeological find. What’s really interesting is that many of the themes are still among our most popular today, including barbecuing seafood.”
The School, which sits above the iconic Sydney Fish Market, features a stunning custom-made kitchen, dining room and a tiered theatre. All classes showcase a three-in-one experience, including a live demonstration, hands-on cooking, and dining with a glass of wine. Whether you're a kitchen novice or a dinner-party dynamo, you'll have fun with like-minded people while learning new recipes and handy cooking tips and techniques.
The line-up of chef talent appearing across the 30th anniversary program features Mike McEnearney (Kitchen by Mike), Mike Eggert (Totti's), Mark LaBrooy (Three Blue Ducks), Morgan McGlone (Belles Hot Chicken), Palisa Anderson (Chat Thai), Paul Carmichael (Momofuku Seiōbo), Giovanni Pilu (Pilu at Freshwater) and Alessandro Pavoni (Ormeggio at The Spit) to name a few. Although housed in the Fish Market, the program is about much more than seafood. Mike McEnearney will host a sourdough bread making class (1 Feb), Mike Eggert will showcase the best of seasonal vegetables (18 Jan), and Morgan McGlone will share the secrets of his famous southern-style chicken.
The School is also known for its focus on wine and food matching. Partnering with many wineries and importers, Roberta ensures that the wine served really enhances the guests’ meals and is much more than an afterthought. This year, classes will feature chefs co-hosting with wine personalities. Morgan McGlone will host with Mike Bennie of P&V Wine and Liquor Merchants, while Lucio Galletto of Lucio’s in Paddington has invited his friend and Italian wine importer, Piero Tantini of Godot Wines to present a range of boutique Italian wines alongside his dishes.
With an increasing number of children wanting to cook, Roberta has introduced a special series of Sunday Family Dinner events, featuring simple meals that kids can help parents prepare. “We want to make it even easier for families to cook and eat together by doing the shopping and cleaning up for them. We’ve kept kids in mind when designing Sunday night menus, with dishes like fish tacos, spaghetti vongole and a great seafood pie,” she says.
Whereas elegant dinner party entertaining was the ideal in the late ‘80s, today it’s all about keeping it quick and easy. “Everyone’s time poor,” says Roberta. “Our mission is to inspire everyone to eat well together and we’ve realised that if we can help people get a meal on the table in around 30 minutes, using ingredients they have on hand, then they will cook more often, so many of our events have that sort of theme.”
So what’s next for Sydney Seafood School? “The busier our lives get, and the more restaurants focus on the new and quirky, the more we look for tradition and comfort,” says Roberta. “We’ve been playing around with the theme of ‘Nonna knowledge’ – getting some of the Nonnas, Tetas, and Yiayias out there to teach us about the most basic, and delicious, traditional dishes and cooking techniques from their families and cultures … we’d like to trial that in 2020.”
Click here for profiles of all the chefs appearing on the upcoming schedule.
Sydney Seafood School
(02) 9004 1111
Image credit: Franz Scheurer Photography