Sunday, May 31, 2009

Recipease Brighton - welcome to the Jamie Zone

“That is one of the best smells in the world”, says Martyn, leaning over his saucepan of foaming butter and garlic. All five of us watch him avidly as he demonstrates just how long our garlic should cook for before we throw in the tomatoes.

I’m at Recipease, in a lurid pink building in Western Road, Brighton, a newly opened cookery school – cum – grocery - cum - foodie community hub, and another part of the ever-expanding Jamie Oliver brand. Martyn Rose, the Food Champion is teaching us how to make meatballs.

This is the second branch of Recipease to open and Simon Cochrane, Managing Director, is keen to show me around. We walk around the retail section at the front of the store. Here you can stock up on Jamie kitchenalia, fresh veg and artisan breads. Of course there are books, but not just those penned by Mr Oliver, also ones he recommends.

There is a good selection of wine available plus pre-prepared meals ready to take away and cook at home. All the chicken and eggs are free-range, and both beef and pork is British reared.
Simon tells me: “Provenance is very important. What people like about Recipease is that they can trust it. They know what’s gone into it”.

Aside from the main cooking area, where I make my dish, there are also pizza and curry kitchens. These workstations don’t need to be booked, you just drop in and get cooking from the step-by-step instructions and pre-prepared ingredients. Pick your meat, pick your sauce and dive in, or “freestyle” if you’re feeling braver. “It’s all about making it accessible and easy for people”, Simon tells me. Your “homemade” pizza or curry is then boxed up for you to cook at home. Very satisfying, and from less than a fiver per head for a curry, good value too.

At the back of the store is the main cooking area. Book a class online at a level that suits you, from the easy “Make” classes where you put together a recipe and take it away, to the more advanced “Learn” series, which focuses on techniques such as knife skills. There are classes for kids too.

Back in the kitchen and the cooking style is definitely very Jamie, it’s easy, non-pretentious and full of big, bold flavours. Our meatballs are packed with plenty of spices and ripped up herbs, plus quality ingredients with a conscience. A bit of bish-bosh-bash and we all have our own trays of chunky meatballs with spinach and buffalo mozzarella, all in a handmade tomato and basil sauce. Our handiwork is heat sealed and packaged up complete with cooking instructions so that we can cook it when we get home.

Jess Lancaster, 22, from St Margarets Place, Brighton, was also trying out the class. “I like to cook at home and I wanted to come along anyway”, she tells me. “It was good fun, and it’s great to learn new skills for the kitchen”.

The best thing about Recipease is that it caters for every level, from nervous beginner to competent cook. Simon tells me of fresh pasta classes, fish filleting and plans to get a local butcher in to run a meat jointing session.

Love or hate Jamie Oliver, you can’t really argue with a venture that gets more people into the kitchen. And that’s just what Recipease is trying to do.

Recipease, 72 - 73 Western Road, Brighton BN1 2HA
01273 311338