Cook In Shanghai

By: Evelyn Lew Cucchiarella
This item appears on page 16 of the August 2013 issue.

While spending two weeks in Shanghai, China, April 18-May 1, 2013, I took seven cooking classes from Cook In Shanghai (269 Zhaojiabang Rd. [near Jiashan Rd.], Bldg. 2, Room 502, Shanghai; phone +86 186 217 82 428, ). Two gutsy young women started Cook In Shanghai in 2011. I highly recommend it to foodies. It was really fabulous! 

I paid a total of $144 for four private classes plus $46 each for three public classes (class size limit, six people); the cost included materials. 

You are asked what style of cooking you’re interested in (Cantonese, Hunan, etc.) or what dish you would like to make, then a chef specializing in that is hired to teach for the day. Three dishes are prepared in each 4-hour class. 

First, to buy food, you all go to the “wet market” (where produce and live animals are sold and so called for the wet floors due to vendors cleaning up and from fish splashing in tanks). You return to the kitchen, where the chef prepares it and you taste it, then everyone prepares each dish under his instruction. (No msg is used, by the way.) At the end of each class, creations are shared with one another. Delicious blueberry or jasmine tea is served. 

In one class, one dish was homemade noodles. The chef helped us make the dough, then he started pulling it and pulling it until he got fine, angel-hair pasta. I’m afraid my noodles were uneven and messy. One student, a chef, himself, booked the noodle chef for a future lesson, as he needed more practice and thought the dish would fit in well with his restaurant’s menu.

The classes I took had two to six people in them. I met people from all over the world. It was fun to be with so many others interested in food preparation. 

Through the discount hotel reservations site www.agoda.com, I booked a room at the 37-story Rayfont Hotel (No. 7, Zhaojiabang Rd., Shanghai 200032, People’s Republic of China; phone +86 21 5407 7000, fax 5407 8000).

Only three blocks from the cooking class, the hotel’s location was great, near subway line 9, a Tesco market, a huge mall and a historical area with boutiques and restaurants. Nearby was St. Martel, a French bakery that made the best cheesecakes ($5).

I had a nice room to myself with a mini-fridge, and nine nights cost $438. When I tried adding an extra night, the rack rate was $310 per night. (They also have one- and two-bedroom apartments.)

Two weeks before the trip, I booked a 10-hour bus tour of Suzhou, the “Venice of Asia,” from Viatour (866/648-5873) for $114. Seeing Suzhou’s gardens, mansions and canals, taking a boat ride with a singer on board and visiting a silk factory all made for a great one-day getaway.  

EVELYN LEW CUCCHIARELLA

Cathedral City, CA