Yorkshire's Independent Restaurant Guide

Spring rolls, Halifax-style

To The Cooking School at Dean Clough for a night of Thai madness. Crispy duck and spring rolls anyone? I’ve never made either so it’s perhaps as well we’ve got the lovely Sam Boonton, 5 Star chef from Thai Style restaurant in Halifax coaxing us through the motions. I don’t know about you but I’ve always thought oriental cuisine a bit of a dark art. Sheer ignorance on my part. I love to eat it but have rarely had the nerve to put it together at home. Might be a different story after tonight.

It is, of course, more straightforward than I imagined and before long I’m stuffing rice noodles, shredded and lightly fried cabbage, carrot and mushrooms into pastry so thin it’s transparent  (but surprisingly strong) into perfect rolls. As resident tutor/chef Matthew Benson-Smith astutely observed, that sort of dexterity only comes with having rolled a few fags in a former life.

The rolls are quickly deep fried and before you know it ready to eat. Amazing! Crunchy, spicy, someone stop me before I wolf the lot.

That lovely dark stickiness that makes duck skin crack is just caramelized sugar, water and a pinch of five spice mix, slathered on, steamed for an hour then roast in a hot oven for 35 mins. After letting the cooked duck sit for five mins we shred the meat and tuck in. Simple and delicious.

There’s the usual disparate bunch of people partaking this evening, including Gavin Emmett, the renowned motorcycling correspondent (just back from a tour of Thailand and keen to keep his hand in), Keith Bridge moonlighting from his café, the Blue Cup in Castleford, the lovely Joy, a driving instructor from Upperthong and retired copper Robert from Holmfirth.

I’ve done a handful of courses now at Dean Clough and one of the best things about them is the folk. Always friendly, always funny, always different.

If you fancy honing your kitchen skills but can’t do the weekends, the ‘night school’ courses might be just the thing. The next one is ‘A taste of the Mediterranean’: three nights on consecutive weeks from 14 May. Check TCS website for details.