On Sunday the 15th of February, I was lucky enough to attend a dumpling class hosted by Contiki New Zealand at Sachie’s Kitchen. For those unfamiliar with Sachie’s Kitchen, it is a fun, team-building Asian cuisine cooking school set in a beautiful building in Parnell, Auckland. Contiki have recently released a new tour of Japan and so twenty bloggers descended upon the school to learn how to make gyoza dumplings. Little known fact? I LOVE dumplings. The sales reps I worked with straight out of university used to take me to yum cha to butter me up and they are one of my favorite things to order at the cafe across from work.
We were divided into groups, a little like school camp, and given some genuinely fun team building activities to help us bond. I have to admit that I liked that this was done as it gave me the chance to talk to some bloggers that I might otherwise never had the opportunity to meet. Our team did relatively well in the pre-cook off activities, scoring a fairly decent amount of points. Once we were dressed in our chef kimonos and headbands, we were able to watch Sachie give us her demonstration. I was impressed at her skill but also her personality – it is clear that she loves and enjoys what she does.
Team Ninja Hands livery
Sachie completing her demonstration
Demonstrations complete, it was back to our stations for preparation. We had three different methods of cooking (pan-fry, steam and deep-fry) and three different flavors – pork, prawn and cheese (this last one was the one to be deep-fried and yes it is just as amazing as you are thinking) dumplings to be presented for judging. I found the pleating on the dumplings a little bit difficult but nothing that I wouldn’t be able to practice in future. One of my team mates also showed me how to wrap up a tortellini – as they say in Thailand, same same but different – which I think will also be a useful skill! I was actually surprised by how simple they were to make and I can definitely see this becoming part of our meal rotation at home. As time wound down we were feeling under pressure to plate perfectly; those cooking shows we all love are such an influence!
Prepping our dumpling contents
Perfectly pan-fried dumpling
Sachie came round to view and taste the meals and I felt as nervous as when Plunket weighs and measures CJ – did we do well enough? Our sauce wasn’t quite spot on and when I tasted another group’s I realized our proportion of soy to vinegar was off – too salty, not enough tart. I was therefore surprised to see that we remained the head of the pack in points. One more round of “guess the ingredients” – yay umeboshi! – and we had won! I don’t think I’ve won a medal since gymnastics when I was about nine years old! I was chuffed.
Winner winner dumpling dinner
Part of aforementioned dumpling dinner
We then had a Q & A with Contiki. While still fitting in the age group of Contiki, the reality is that most of our future travel will be with the little dude and I wondered whether they had anything to offer. Clever Melissa asked that question and I was excited to find out that their sister company Trafalgar does family tours – basically Contiki for the whole family! Talk about taking the stress out of travel with children; this is definitely something I would look into if we make it over to Europe while we have young children.
Arigato Sachie’s Kitchen and Contiki New Zealand – an awesome AND educational time!