Outside interest: cooking

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 13 May 2015

Alice SuttieBoyer planner Alice Suttie has always been interested in cooking and baking. From a young age she went on cookery courses during school holidays, learning to make bread, pasta and Christmas cakes. She also took a course in sugar craft for her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award.

How did you get into cookery classes abroad.

When I am abroad, I am always interested in trying out the local produce. On a recent trip around south-east Asia I was inspired by the vibrant food available in the markets and on the street stalls and so I signed myself up for a Thai cookery course in Chiang Mai. I wanted to learn about the cookery culture and understand the ingredients and flavours, which were unfamiliar to me.

What does it involve?

Cooking involves a lot of concentration, particularly when you are learning a new recipe in a hot kitchen and it’s already 40 degrees outside. In Thailand we had the opportunity to explore the local markets and learn about some extraordinary looking ingredients. Back in the kitchen, I had to try and keep up with the fast pace of Asian cooking, learning to make eight different dishes.

Why do you do it?

Cooking is a great way to relax and to socialise. When I returned from Asia I tested all the recipes on my friends and family - with 'Massaman Curry' and 'Chicken with Lemongrass and Ginger' still being the regularly requested favourites.

What’s the toughest thing about it?

It takes a lot of patience to try out a new recipe and it doesn’t always go to plan. If something doesn’t go well the first time, you need confidence to try again.

What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

This kind of cooking is a very creative and rewarding, and there's always something to enjoy at the end. Learning to cook abroad is a great way to learn and interact with a different culture.

Are there any similarities between your day job and learning to cook in a foreign country?

Planning often involves being presented with an unfamiliar situation and working out what the client's problems are and how you can solve them – much like trying to learn new cooking techniques in an unfamiliar environment and working out what it is the teacher wants you to do. Both require creativity, precision and an eye for detail – otherwise the development will not be successful or the food will not be the perfect meal you had hoped.

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, please email planning@haymarket.com