A stellar chef, a modern kitchen, a big-ticket wine cellar and a laid-back ambience, what else can you ask for?
Nowadays, cooking has become increasingly popular. Many enjoy the sheer process of creating tasty dishes. To them, eating is only of secondary importance. Skills, the one-of-a-kind modern cooking school, offers a great opportunity for people loving to cook to hone their cooking skills. (Thus the name skills, no kidding!) It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional, an amateur or a layman who doesn’t know how to ably handle a chef’s knife; you’re welcomed to join in the cooking classes held at Skills all year round.
The art of cooking is all about Skills.
Skills is arguably the most stylish and best equipped teaching kitchen in town.
I’m glad to have Alessandra Pepe, the manager and teacher of Skills, sharing her passion for food with us. And of course, Giorgio Pappalardo, the founder of Skills, who has featured prominently in the previous blog post, is here with us (Click to read the interview with him.)
Alessandra Pepe and Giorgio Pappalardo are the mastermind and soul behind Skills and The Warehouse.
Alessandra is from Modena, Italy. She learnt how to cook from her mom and grandma when she was a little girl. Previously a designer, Alessandra is now happy and busy putting all her efforts into “designing” tasty, original dishes as well as sharing her cooking skills with those interested in cooking. She enjoys her job of teaching and cooking, so much so that “I couldn’t ask for more,” she said smiling from ear to ear.
The lovely Alessandra with her handmade ice-cream cookie sandwithes.
For Alessandra, food is all about “eating together, cooking together, and spreading the spirit of sharing.” Food has the magic power to draw people together; that is what really matters to Alessandra and what made her fall in love with cooking in the first place. People connect with each other over food much quicker and easier than through other vehicles. Alessandra also mentioned that she feels proud every time people tell her the equivalent of this statement: “I’ve never thought that even I could make this dish!” after attending the cooking class at Skills. In fact, the teaching kitchen now means so much to Alessandra that it is almost always the first thing that she thinks about in the morning when she wakes up.
“We aptly named the cooking school ‘Skills’ because we have many great professional teachers with different cooking skills. And we want to pass that skills to as many people as we can or even take those skills of ours to a higher level, ” explained Alessandra with a flash of pride in her eyes. Indeed, Skills offers a wide selection of exotic cooking lessons on Italian, Thai, French, Japanese foods that are versatile enough to indulge various cravings. Prior to each class, Skills prepares everything ranging from raw ingredients and condiments to kitchen kits to cookware for each student — so much so that ALL they need to bring to class is little more than their passion for cooking.
Skills prepares everything for everyone attending the cooking class.
If you happen to be at Skills, you wouldn’t want to skip The Warehouse, the nature wine importing company that was also founded by Giorgio.
The Warehouse caches some of the world’s finest natural wines. The word ‘nature’ means no chemicals or artificial flavors were added to the wines. Giorgio guided me through the expensive wine cellar, remarking that the cellar is carefully monitored and controlled at pre-set temperature and moisture levels. “I love to drink wine,” Giorgio blurted out a confession, winking an eye.
Overall, Skills and The Warehouse are a great combination in the eyes of food and wine lovers. Put together, both become a really comfy, cozy and charming space to learn, to eat, to drink, to mingle and to have fun. With each class dismissed, you’re bound to leave equipped with fresh cooking skills on top of a light heart.
Alessandra can’t wait to usher you into the impressive space of Skills.
To know Skills better, I attended one of Alessandra’s well-received cooking classes recently.
Every class accepts a maximum of 10 students, which ensures that the quality of teaching and learning remains high and repeatable. Attendees are given a step-by-step recipe on the dishes they’re going to make in the workshop.
The class starts as soon as all the learners (some of them chef wannabes) are seated. Unlike ordinary cooking schools, Skills tries to create a relaxing atmosphere that is aimed at making cooking a fun experience rather than a serious business.
Tea and coffee is served in class.
In this particular class that I attend, Alessandra is set to teach us four dishes: Pasta Kadaif Tasty Roll as appetizer, Tortelli alla Piacentina and Trofie con Zafferano e cernia as main course, and Crostata al cioccolato as dessert.
Alessandra introduces the ingredients that would later be used in making pasta.
Everyone gets the chance to DIY, with the teacher standing nearby to offer real-time cooking tips.
Alessandra rolls away for Crostata al cioccolato.
Think you’re clumsy in the kitchen? Join the club! But not to worry: A smiling Alessandra acts like an attentive mother keeping a watchful eye on her toddlers playing in a sandbox. She’ll always step in at the most opportune time to help; you can’t find a better teacher for cooking than her.
Yes, it’s homemade pasta!
The doings that unfold at Skills prove to be so much fun, and we learn how to make tasty dishes the simply way, having the best of both worlds, that is.
When it’s time to start tasting food and comparing notes, everyone gets a glass of wine by courtesy of the Warehouse.
Skills provides a great opportunity to try your hand at some novel dishes you could only imagine otherwise.
At Skills, you are encouraged to put your taste buds to the test by trying out every ingredient and then pointing out (or guessing) the gustatory contribution each ingredient is going to make to the overall flavor of the dish. This may sound a bit scaring, yet the whole process is carried out in a congenial atmosphere which is also conducive to learning. That’s one unbeatable merit you don’t normally get elsewhere.
More behind-the-scenes photos:
This machine shapes the pasta. “It’s imported straight from Italy. You can’t find it in Taiwan!” Giorgio guarantees.
Giorgio displays his ice cream-making machine. “It’s imported from Italy too. The machine set me back one million NT dollars, but it’s worth every penny of it.” If you’ve already tried ice cream at Giorgio’s restaurant Osteria by Angie, you know he is not bluffing.
Osteria by Angie offers fresh, handmade pasta.
Alessandra’s constant mission: to search out new ways to create ceaseless ooh’s and aah’s on the plates.