The Westin Culinary Academy, Gurgaon

Cooking is like being in the medical profession, cooks save souls like doctors save lives and cooks are always learning, like doctors must! This is the main reason why I try and squeeze in as many ‘masterclasses’ as possible. I tend to skip the generic ones at food stores but the ones in hotels are proving to be quite a novel way of wooing food lovers in the city. Gurgaon is an urban island and constantly abuzz with food festivals, workshops and mixology sessions but for me The Westin Culinary Academy is most consistent, engaging and informative. It has been pleasure to spend time in their master kitchen, learn from some of the best and come out feeling just a little bit food smarter! This particular morning I attended their baking session with Chef Abdul Wahid, the new Pastry Chef at The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi. Prior to joining The Westin Gurgaon, Chef Wahid had worked as Pastry Chef at The Hyatt Regency and Country Inn and Suites, Gurgaon. Chef Wahid comes from a diverse culinary landscape spanning over 23 years and is able to experiment with his creations and adopt novel and modern techniques in doing so.

I found him to be very entertaining; he had an anecdote to share for every ingredient, recipe and product. I watched him work on a basic level – the class was just a group of 5 at the bakery and his work station was rather small. He still managed to whip up a fantastic Puff Pastry, Christmas Cake and a delicate Mille Feuille with strawberries and custard. Watching him prep the pastry was definite learning, I had actually forgotten the book fold that is critical when you fold pastry and that’s what gives those fantastic, crispy, flaky layers. Our group included two teens who were taking notes furiously and a senior lady who had some pretty basic but important questions. That for me is the true value of these sessions; small, contained, a group where each one can benefit from an interaction with a professional. The Westin Culinary Academy has a masterclass most Saturdays, so if you’re a keen cook, then this would be a great way to spend a Saturday and go home with great ideas and recipes for the weekend. The session concludes with lunch at the all day dining restaurant, Seasonal Tastes, famous for its buffet spreads. It’s a delightful way to meet new people who share interests like food and cooking and it’s also a great way to meet back of the house talent like the amazing chefs who prep the food we enjoy. For me the thrill was the state of the art oven, the stand mixer and the choice of ingredients that hotels have access to. The pastry shop at The Westin churns out good bakery fare, I love their chocolate products, especially the Fudge Sticks!

Session Per Person: INR 1500

Parul Pratap Shirazi

Parul is a trained Chef, professional food stylist, cook, food blogger and social media strategist. She loves grapes in her salad.