Italian Cooking class at La Mamma - Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel.

Saturdays in Abu Dhabi can be quite depressing because the thought of work the next day looms large. So, other than brunch or going to a mall, we are limited in how we can find something fun and exciting that we can do. Thankfully, the Sheraton in Abu Dhabi has added cooking classes to our Saturdays. My daughter joined me at La Mamma for an Italian cooking class led by Chef Juri Pelusi. 

A glass of sparkling wine on arrival ensures that cooking will indeed be fun. Who cooks without a glass in one hand? While the class does not target children, it is very child- friendly in that the directions are quite easy for kids to follow. 

We are here to make two dishes. We start off with the gnocchi, which is made from scratch. My daughter follows all the instructions - she mixes the dough and ricotta cheese and before you know it, she is boiling the gnocchi. Chefs are on hand to guide those who have never seen in a pot in their lives. The mood is really one of enjoyment. The best part comes when we sit down and eat the product of my daughter's labour - all I did was take photographs! A proud dad. Her comment - next I will go more al dente. Priceless. 

I think it is so important to have these moments with our children. We are fighting a battle on two fronts - technology and junk food. Getting them away from ipads but doing it in a  way that makes them feel happy is important. Secondly, we need to show them that good food does not have to be boring. Kids have a feeling of empowerment when you let them take the lead in the kitchen. Get them to fall in love with good food and it sets them up for life, making the threat of junk food less severe. This is something very important to Chef, and as we talk during the break, I can see how he values getting kids involved in the kitchen. 

Next, we prepare a seafood soup. All the ingredients are already preared, and again, as was the case with the gnocchi, the dish is ready in a short while. Chef really puts the fun element in it which is important. My daughter is quite shy, but he is able to draw her out by asking questions pitched at the right level. 

At the end, again we sit down to enjoy what she has made. I look around and see strangers connecting with others. This is what food does, and especially when people have cooked together, there is a real celebratory tone. 

At 149AED++ this is a great afternoon. We were able to spend time cooking, connecting with people, away from a shopping mall or brunch. Importantly, I got to spend time in a fun setting with my daiughter. Cooking together really brings people together. 

The Essentials

Italian Cooking Class at La Mamma
The Sheraton Abu Dhabi
971 2 677 3333
149AED++ incl wine. 

Italian Cooking classes alternate every week with Mexican cooking classes.  Check with the hotel for details. 

Brandon Stoltenkamp