Hi there, I am Irina and I am in deep, long-lasting and passionate relationship with food. At the age of 10 I cooked my first dish. Inspired by success and support of my family I basically moved to the kitchen. I grew up in very international environment and mothers of my friends and our neighbours were very generous with sharing recipes. I fell in love with art of mixing ingredients to produce magic on the plate. I decided to become a cook but it took some time thought to fulfill my dream. First graduated from University and ended up in the beautiful office doing job which I hated. Travelled like a maniac, trying to learn new cuisines, ingredients, traditions. Cooking remained my biggest passion. At the age of 30 finally went to professional cooking school and never looked back.
Food became my work, love, life and reason to wake up every morning. Equally love Indian, Lebanese, Italian and many other cuisines, managed to become good at some of them. I get bored eating same cuisine every day, therefore never really sure whether tomorrow for dinner we are going to have paella or lamb samosas with fruit chutney.
I am organic freak, growing many fruits and vegetables in my garden. I do care where my protein comes from, therefore only wild fish, grass fed beef, free rangechickens. I refuse to take part in industrialisation of animals. Its cruel to poor creatures and extremely unhealthy for us.
Few years ago I started to give culinary lessons and realised how much I love sharing my knowledge and experience.
And here we go, culinary school 8 Cooking Hats nearby Nafplio in Tolo, Greece. And organic small farm, of course. You don’t have to be professional to take lessons of your choice. As long as you know how to hold your knife, you are very welcome to come for a day or a week or few. All depends on you. We will cook, learn new things about food techniques, methods of cooking, use of herbs and spices and lots of interesting information about ingredients, theirs nutritional value and benefits. We will eat. We will have fun.
Life is too short to eat bad and tasteless food. If to make it short, food has to be delicious, good for your body and soul, aka healthy, and bring you joy. And healthy doesn’t mean boring, not at all. I am totally against magic capsules, fat-free products and anything,which was raped by modern technologies. I truly believe that with a little effort and time, devoted to cooking, you can create meals, which provide you with all necessary vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs etc. And it has to be delicious.
Another belief of mine is that all my ingredients have to be of the best quality, free of pesticides. Fish should be wild, cows and chickens free-range and happy. You got the idea.
In a world of modern globalisation and availability of different ingredients, it is sad to limit yourself to one particular cuisine. No matter how good it is. Also, after having some fun with Nouvelle Cuisine, I came back to tastes and flavours of original cuisines, just modifying some of the dishes to make them more healthy and appropriate in the 21 century. I am not vegetarian, but I do care, how animals grew, what they ate. I am happy to pay extra dollars to support farmers, who make efforts to tend their cattle in a human way. And I refuse to look at food as just fuel. For me it is joy, it is reason to learn something new, it is excuse to invite friends over and spend quality time with people who are dear to me.
Where to start? It is simply perfect. Whether we are talking about location, views, availability of fresh organic ingredients, some of them you can literally pick up yourself from my gardens. The lay-out of individual stations was designed to provide line of sight for maximum user’s experience. Every student has his own spacious work station with all the necessary equipment, so cooking is actually experienced and learned as opposed to just observing.
All devices are of one of the best names in the market of home appliances namely Miele and Kenwood, and students can easily replicate dishes at home. No expense has been spared in the entire design of the school. The number of stations is limited to 8 to ensure the maximum quality of the culinary experience and learning.
All recipes in a cooking program are mine or slightly adapted versions of traditional dishes, just a little lighter and healthier.
And some general info:
Where: Nafplio, Tolo, Greece
Time: 12.00 – 16.00 (time could change) and meal afterwords with all the goodies we cooked together
Price: 80 EURO per person including 24% VAT.
Every lesson consists of 3 or 4 dishes, depending on the level of difficulty and represent certain team.
- Italian pasta
- Lebanese meze table
- Certain country, or seasonal ingredient, dumplings from all over the world, fish and seafood, or philosophy/lifestyle (like Ayurvedic cuisine, vegetarian, low-fat etc)
Geographical variety of cuisines:
- Welcome glass of sparkling wine or freshly made fruit juice or home made ice tea
- A tour of the garden (upon request)
- A binder of recipes of the day
- Step by step instruction and information from the chef about cuisine, dishes and ingredients
- An afternoon of non stop cooking, food and fun
- Individual cooking station for every guest with all needed equipment
Not included, but available
- Wine tasters with each part of the meal
- Attendance of family members for lunch for small extra-charge
How many places available? 10 pupils maximum per lessons, and you can triple that for dinner.
What should I bring? Nothing! Just yourself and a big appetite, curiosity and desire to cook.