REVIEW: Hands-on cooking class at L’atelier des Chefs in London. Plus WIN a 60-minute cooking course

sea bass for dinnerWe eat fish regularly. I love how something so tasty is packed full of nutrients, and yet it takes just minutes to cook.

Our usuals are salmon or trout, but we also regularly eat pan-fried sea bass when it’s on special offer at our local fishmongers. Two out of three of my kids are big fans of fish. (Of course, the fussy toddler is not one of them.)

But I’ve never learnt how to fillet fish, or indeed do anything a bit fiddly or twiddly.


But now that I’m on a mission to break out of my meal rut (read my blog post: Do you have mealtime déjà vu) I’m always on the look-out for ways to pick up new cooking skills and meal ideas. Being more creative with fish is firmly on my list.

Fishy cooking class

So with this in mind, I was chuffed to be offered an hour-long course at a hands-on London cooking school L’atelier des Chefs. I chose a fishy class on a French theme, making sea bass with a parsley crust and ratatouille, and also a pud of tarte Tatin with Calvados cream, something I’ve long wanted to have a go at making.

L’atelier des Chefs has two bases in central London (St Pauls and Oxford Circus), and offers a whole range of classes depending on how much time you can spare – from 30 minutes for their £15 Cook, Eat and Run classes, all the way up to a four-hour Masterclass, £144. Whatever class you choose, you always get to tuck in to your accomplishments at the end. 

kitchen at L'Atelier des Chefs, London

Skinning a fillet of fish

The five of us in my class started by chopping up the veg for the ratatouille and parsley crust, and whipping up the Calvados cream. We then moved on to the main event in my eyes – skinning a fillet of sea bass.

It turns out you need a special knife with an ultra-bendy blade, called a fillet knife. You make a cut at the tail to start separating the skin from the fish, and, pull the tail of the fish pretty tight while you gently slide your knife between the skin and fillet. Ease it along, making sure you angle the blade slightly towards the chopping board.

I’m afraid I didn’t get an action picture with the fish as my fingers were a bit sticky, so here’s a link to some fab pictures from blogger Beyond Salmon, doing the same job  brilliantly.

I’m proud to say that for a first-timer, I think I did a half-decent skinning job.

We’ll just breeze past that patchy bit at the end.

Cooking tasks

The rest of the class was spent cooking the ratatouille, blending the parsley crust, making individual tarte Tatins and preparing the fish for baking.

sea bass with parsley crust

What I liked most about this class was the solo tasks, like skinning the fish and filling the tarts. I felt I was gaining new skills.

Other tasks were done as a group. So for example, one of us cooked the ratatouille, while everyone else looked on. Likewise, another person made the caramel for the tarte Tatin, under the chef’s watchful eye.

Sharing the tasks presumably brings the class price and time right down, but I would love to have been able to try out a few more of the cooking jobs myself. However, it was fun to do it as part of a group and I think it would be a great way to get together with a friend while also learning something new.

The results

tarte TatinDelicious!

The tarte Tatin was the star of the show with stunning flavours.

I couldn’t speak as I ate mine – it was that good.





sea bass with a parsley crust and ratatouilleBut the fish was pretty impressive too.

It’s an interesting way to jazz up a white fish, with the parsley crust adding tasty flair.

And you can’t go wrong with ratatouille for a veggie fix. I’ll be serving this up to friends. Just need to practise that skinning technique first.




Thanks to L’atelier des Chefs for the recipe.

Serves 6

6 sea bass fillets
200g breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove
quarter of a bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 lemon
50g whole hazelnuts
Sea salt and black pepper to season


Preheat oven to 200˚C. Zest the lemon. Pick the leaves from the parsley.

Pin bone the fish if necessary and trim away any unwanted fat. Skin the fish. Season with salt, pepper and a little lemon zest. Place in a roasting tray and drizzle liberally with olive oil.

Puree the garlic and finely chop the parsley.

Crush the hazelnuts in a pestle and mortar and mix in a bowl along with the breadcrumbs, garlic, chopped parsley and black pepper.

Sprinkle a thin layer of topping over the fish, completely covering it, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Disclaimer: I was given a free cooking class in return for a review. 



I have one 60-minute cooking class at L’Atelier des Chefs to give away, worth £36.

There are lots of ways to enter – just see the Rafflecopter form below. The first method is to leave a comment on this blog post but you can gain extra entries to the draw via Twitter and Facebook.

The winner can choose any 60-minute class from L’atelier des Chefs – and they do lots of types of cooking classes, not just fish. Click on L’atelier des Chefs to browse their courses, which range from making macaroons and bread-making to Moroccan, Thai and gastropub-themed cookery, and include vegetarian classes too.

The closing date is 20 May 2014.

Here’s how to enter:

-   Complete the Rafflecopter form below to confirm your entries made via blog comments, Twitter and Facebook.

-  If you’re new to Rafflecopter, no probs – just watch this quick video to see how it works.

-   There’s only one mandatory task – the blog comment. The others are optional.

Terms & Conditions

- I’ve got one 60-minute cooking class at L’Atelier des Chefs in London to give away. There’s no cash alternative and the prize is not transferable.

-  The winner is picked at random by Rafflecopter and I will email the winner within seven days of the prize draw. If I don’t hear back within seven days, another winner will be selected – so make sure you check your email’s junk folder!

- The winner will be able to select a 60-minute class of their choice at L’atelier des Chefs at either of their London sites.

- The giveaway will close on 20 May 2014.

-   The competition is open to anyone aged over 18 from the UK and Ireland only.

-  Winners are announced on the Rafflecopter form after the prize has been claimed by the winner.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

apple illustrationI’m Carole Beck, a journalist and mum of three small children (aged eight, five and three), and I have long tried to live a healthy lifestyle, but I’m not always successful. This blog follows my trials and tribulations as I try to boost mine and my family’s fitness, sharing some of the bumps and cracks that I’ve walked into along the way. Please have a look around the blog and let me know what you think. Do follow me on Twitter too.

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Sandra says:

All looks wonderful … Can’t wait to try them out.

Rena says:

we call tat fish bangus here in our place… nice class for cooking, im enjoying reading this post, learned a lot …

Christina O'Hare says:

Looks delicious. xx

a cooking class sounds like great fun! x

kellyjo walters says:

fantastic prize

frances hopkins says:

What a great prize !!

Kizzy says:

We love fish and regularly have it. All of my three love fish and I am always looking for more types to try!

I bow down to your skills – I get nervous just carving a chicken!

The food you created looks incredible, you should be very proud of yourself :)

Lori says:

What a great prize, the parsley crust looks amazing and it’s always great learning a new skill. x

Rachel says:

Not sure my first comment posted. Looks like a great course. I’d love to learn to make a proper tarte tatin.

The recipe looks delicious. However gets to win the prize is extremely lucky!

I adore sea bass! I don’t eat fish so much any more as my fiance doesn’t like it and it can be a faff cooking two meals. Looking at yours though I really miss it! Would definitely have a crack at the tarte tatin though – it looks divine. I’m glad you had such a great experience with the course – it looks amazing!
Love Vicky

The Tarte Tatin looks just delicious. Would have loved this course as cannot skin or filet a fish, but just that bit too far :-(

kara says:

Fab prize – sadly its too far for me to go so I have shared xx

Katherine L says:

What a great prize, I’ve always wanted to improve my skills in the kitchen!

Kathryn Casbolt says:

Lovely prize. I have always wanted to learn how to make macarons :-)

Rebecca Beesley says:

What a lovely prize. Will keep my fingers crossed!

healthiermummy says:

Good luck!

Debbie says:

This looks like a great course- we definitely should incorporate fish with more meals- the children love it- but I would be wary of filleting a fish!

healthiermummy says:

I’d love to try filleting fish, but I’d be wary too. And rightly so. Very fiddly and twiddly.

Model Mummy says:

Have to admit i am not a fan of fish but my other half absolutely loves it! And i would gladly cook it for him. Great recipe – i will have the pud!

healthiermummy says:

The pudding was fab. Am dreaming about it now.

Globalmouse says:

That tarte tatin looks amazing! And so does the parsley crumb – a great summery taste!

Polly says:

your tarte tartin looks amazing x

healthiermummy says:

Thank you. I was very proud.

Michelle says:

What a fabulous course to go on! if I went I think I’d have to do a macaron class!

healthiermummy says:

The macaroon class did look very tempting, but thought I should stick to something healthy!

We don’t eat much fish, I wouldn’t be good at preparing it. Yours looks yummy though x

Bex Smith says:

Such an interesting post – I’ve really regressed from when I was a teen and forgotten how to cook some of the simplest of things! May have to enter the competition!

Sarah Ebner says:

What a great sounding course. The tarte tatin in particular looks fab!

Cooking classing are great, I’d love to go on some. I did one last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tarte Tatin is one of my absolute favourite desserts – yours looks delicious! I’m not sure I fancy the idea of skinning fish but a cookery course sounds fun :)

Shell Louise says:

Sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon while also learning something new. Wish I lived closer so I could enter!

Sonya Cisco says:

We are veggies so dont eat fish, but it does look good! I would like to try a vegetarian cooking class, to learn some new skills and get some fresh ideas.

Sara-Jayne says:

What an amazing course! I’d love to learn how to skin a fish too, I eat so many of them it would be great to actually know what I was doing! Sea bass, too… yum!

Astrid says:

That sea bass recipe sounds lovely and the class sounds great. I like some fish but usually the less fishy-tasitng fish if you understand hwat I mean.

Louise T says:

Really interesting post, I’ve always wanted to do a cooking class. Sounds like fun and recipes look tasty. You’ll be auditioning for masterchef in no time Carole!

healthiermummy says:

Thanks, Louise. Not sure about Masterchef. Could do with just mastering that filleting knife first.