Everybody loves a great Australian backyard barbecue! Sausages and steak, onion, salads and bread—wash it down with a beer or nice local wine. Perhaps a pavlova for dessert. It's the iconic Aussie experience. It leaves little to no kitchen mess, and there's hardly any washing up afterwards.
You don't need any fancy chef training or great culinary skills to slap together a barbecue—but what if you want to go a step or two further and learn to cook a wider range of international and Australian food?
Luckily, in the Australian hospitality industry, we have an amazing range of international cuisines to choose from and some of the world's top chefs. What's even better is that many of these chefs are more than willing to share their experience and culinary skills with regular folk through cookery classes, online courses and as special guests on tourist day tours.
In addition, Australia also boasts some top-level commercial cooking schools and academic programs for every aspect of the hospitality industry.
This post highlights a few of the best cooking courses in Australia. There's something for everyone, from people who are passionate about food and thinking about making cooking their career through to those who simply want to boost their culinary skills with a class or two.
Commercial Cooking Courses to Enter the Hospitality Industry
If you want to become a professional chef in Australia, you will need, at the minimum a Certificate III in Culinary Arts. For people with a passion for baking or pastry, Certificate III , IV and diploma courses are also available for commercial cookery, patisserie and retail baking. The recommendation is to gain your qualification and experience through an apprenticeship, making sure you receive the best hands-on training to back up your academic study.
While most universities and other further education institutions, such as TAFE and CIT, offer different commercial cookery courses, there are also a select number of specialised and elite cookery schools.
Le Cordon Bleu Australia
Active in Australia for over 30 years, Le Cordon Bleu has campuses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. They offer culinary arts programs, degrees in hotel and restaurant management and short courses in gourmet cookery.
With its origins in 1895 as a Parisian cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu has evolved into an international network of high class cooking and hospitality institutes. As would be expected, course fees are not cheap, with introductory Certificate III courses starting at around $33,000 for 15 months, however, they are comprehensive and extremely well regarded in the industry. They are also very popular.
The commercial cookery course starts with the basics — holding a knife and trussing a chicken — moving on to presentation and a wide range of cooking styles and dishes. The patisserie certificate covers everything from basic bread doughs and pastries to chocolate sculpturing.
The Institute of Culinary Excellence (ICE)
Located in Brisbane, this popular and award-winning cookery school features state-of-the-art kitchen facilities and an outdoor kitchen garden.
In addition to the full range of certificate and diploma courses, ICE also offers:
- vocational training courses for senior secondary students
- a Registered Trade Skills Pathway (RTSP) course for practising casual chefs to upgrade their commercial qualifications
- barista training courses
- a range of public short courses
- master class options.
International Cooking Classes Australia Style
Australia is often referred to as a multicultural melting pot, making it easy for Australian food lovers to experience a delightful range of international cuisines, and learn how to cook their favourite food from around the world.
Here are a few popular cooking classes you should definitely put on your list.
Casa Carboni - Italian Cooking School
What better place for an Italian cooking school than in the heart of wine country? Welcome to Casa Carboni in South Australia's Barossa Valley.
Fiona, an Australian wine exporter, and husband Matteo, a chef from Parma in Northern Italy, opened Casa Carboni in 2012. Restaurant on weekdays and cooking school on weekends, their Taste of Italy classes feature everything from a pasta master class to vegetarian cuisine and book out faster than you can blink.
For $190, you get three hours in the kitchen then sit down to your hard-earned four-course meal, accompanied by a paired wine and finishing with tea or coffee and some of Matteo's famous fresh nougat.
Spirit House - Contemporary Asian Cookery
Always booked out well in advance, the cookery classes at Spirit House feature Thai, Indonesian and Indian food. You can choose from a class that focuses on culinary techniques, Asian ingredients or simply your classic favourites from the restaurant. Every class is fully hands on and, of course, you get to eat what you've prepared at the end, along with a well-earned glass of wine. Courses start from $150 for four hours.
Spirit House is located in beautiful Yandina, nestled in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Queensland. For the adventurous, you might want to check out one of their food tours to Thailand, Indonesia or India.
Paddock to Plate Classes
Popularised by the likes of Australian MasterChef alumnus, Ben Milbourne, 'paddock-to-plate' cookery is fast becoming the new norm.
The Agrarian Kitchen
Located in a 19th century schoolhouse, 45 minutes from Hobart in Tasmania, The Agrarian Kitchen is a hands on, farm-based cooking school. A working farm, students can expect to have to go foraging in the herb patch or vegetable garden before starting their food preparation which is, naturally, seasonal.
As with each school of this nature, students sit down to a self-prepared meal and a glass of wine at the end of the session. The Agrarian Kitchen also offers private lessons and themed classes, including corporate team building, birthday celebrations and girls' or guys' weekends away. One day classes start at $385 per person.
Try an Australian Bush Tucker Course
Australia may be known for its lamingtons and meat pies, but if you want to experience real Australian food, you need to learn about bush tucker. Once the realm of Aboriginal chefs like Mark Olive and Clayton Donovan, native and indigenous food is making its way into the repertoire of an increasing number of restaurants run by non-indigenous Australian chefs. In line with this growth in popularity and awareness, it is becoming easier to find courses specialising in native ingredients.
Peppermint Ridge Farm - Native Creative Cooking School
The 'Bush Food Cooking Class' at Peppermint Ridge Farm, in Victoria's Tynong North (a one-hour drive from Melbourne) starts with a sensational bush food garden tour before taking students through a wide range of recipes featuring native foods such as mountain pepper, native mints and strawberry gum.
The four-hour class, for $145, includes bush garden foraging and preparation (and eating) of morning tea and lunch delights.
Indigiearth - Bush Tucker Demonstrations and Masterclasses
In the heart of Central West New South Wales wine country, located in Mudgee (a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Sydney), Indigiearth is a 100 per cent Aboriginal-owned business who source and provide premium bush foods throughout Australia.
Their bush tucker demonstrations allow students to experience the tastes of the bush and learn about the medicinal and culinary uses of native ingredients. Hands on masterclasses are available for professional chefs.
Online Private Cooking Tutorials
Of course, you don't need to go to a specialised cooking school with a large group of students to learn how to cook your favourite food or expand your culinary skills. Have you thought about engaging a private tutor to learn from, or even going online?
You can learn to cook from the comfort of your own home thanks to the plethora of online tutorials currently available, some of which are even free. Many Australian celebrity professional chefs, including Maggie Beer, Hugh Allen, Colin Fassnidge, Mitch Orr and Neil Perry, are taking to Instagram and YouTube with free cooking tips, recipes and tricks of the trade.
If you want something a little more personal, however, you may want to take a look at online courses being run by schools like Le Cordon Bleu, or engage a private online tutor through Superprof.
On the Superprof platform, there are close to 5,000 private tutors throughout Australia, waiting to share their skills and experience with you in just about any cuisine imaginable. On average, an hour-long lesson will set you back $18, but remember, you will obviously need to provide all the ingredients and equipment yourself if you are working online, and tutors who you work with in person may also charge an extra fee for ingredients.
Whether you engage a Superprof tutor or find someone in your local town to teach you how to cook their signature dish, the biggest benefit of finding a private tutor is the flexibility. As the student, you get to select the techniques you want to master, or ingredients you want to explore. You may even decide to work through a favourite cookbook or learn how to plan and cook a dinner party.
Cooking has a long and fascinating history and today, whether it frustrates you or is a source of pride and passion, it is what binds us and brings people together as a unit.