A master chef shares his secrets

TELEVISION cookery shows often give an unappetising impression of high tension and drama in the kitchen, with foul-mouthed testosterone-charged superstars splattering four-letter words like burning oil across the worktops.

Masterchef paints a less aggressive picture but it is still pretty fraught and even the altogether gentler Great British Bake-Off ends in tears as well as smiles.

That well-worn aphorism “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen” might well come to mind!

But the reality of chef Taher Jibet’s kitchen is very different for students at the cookery school he runs at his award-winning restaurant The Dining Room in Weymouth.

Taher Jibet is a master of authentic modern European cooking with a strong Mediterranean influence and these are the themes and flavours that he shares with the small groups of students who enjoy his classes for beginners or advanced cooks.

The Dining Room is in Weymouth’s busy St Mary’s Street in the pedestrianised heart of the town. The menu features seasonal and local ingredients, including fresh and sustainably caught seafood.

Taher and his wife Sophie have won a number of awards, including the Open 4 Business 2012 Award for Best of Dorset Food & Drink and were also finalists for the Taste of Dorset Best Restaurant.

The cookery school classes currently run on a Tuesday or Wednesday and take place at the restaurant before lunch service. There is a basic course for beginners and an advanced class for accomplished cooks who want to learn new methods and techniques.

The beginner’ course includes basic dishes, knife skills and understanding flavour combinations. Sample dishes could include soups, basic sauces for use in bolognaise, chilli con carne, shepherds or cottage pie or lasagne; white sauces for fish pies or pasta dishes; pies, pastry and simple desserts.

The advanced class is for the accomplished cook who would like to learn a few tricks, new methods, presentation styles and techniques and most importantly timings for a successful dinner party.

Sample menus could include creamy saffron risotto with fresh seafood, and chili and lemongrass; chicken ballotine with oregano rosti, lemon and sage butter sauce; lemon posset with ginger cookies;soup and garnishes; homemade tortellini stuffed with spiced cod and prawns, dill butter and slow roasted tomatoes; marbled chocolate cheesecake; chicken liver and bacon pate, crusty bread and cumberland sauce; peppered strawberry and vanilla mousse; pork loin Saltimbocca with apple and sage jus; and chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis

Classes start at 8.30am with coffee and a briefing, there is a short coffee break mid-morning, and the session ends with lunch and time for questions. The price includes lunch and refreshments. Participants take home any recipe cards used during the day, along with a certificate to prove you have attended a course.

Reviews of both the restaurant and the cookery classes praise the informal, friendly atmosphere and the delicious food at The Dining Room.

One Trip Advisor reviewer wrote of the cookery classes: “Taher is the perfect teacher, in that he patiently, good humouredly and expertly demonstrated, instructed and supervised every aspect of the preparation and cooking… This is such an informal, relaxed, and friendly way in which to learn a new skill while accomplishing temptingly delicious dishes.”

For more information on The Dining Room and Taher Jibet’s cookery school, visit www.thediningroomweymouth.co.uk

• Taher is pictured preparing one of his signature dishes, West Bay brill wrapped in parma ham, blue vinny dauphinoise with crispy leeks.