This leisurely teambuilding activity at Pied à Terre works for all abilities and ends in a four-course lunch

I’m 6ft 4, so being in the subterranean, not-built-for-purpose kitchen of a townhouse restaurant was a cosy affair. As we descended the stairs, George Orwell came to mind. Those vivid paragraphs describing his time as a pot washer in Down and Out in Paris and London stuck with me – a look into the intense, close-quarter environments that implausibly made the best food in either city.

Pied a Terre teambuilding cookery class

The fact that Fitzrovia’s Pied à Terre has held onto a Michelin-star by consistently creating refined French food means its chefs are talented; that the food is created in such a small space makes them magicians.

Pied a Terre teambuilding cookery class

Now, precocious head chef Asimakis Chaniotis is inviting groups behind the scenes to see just how his dishes are conjured. Its part of a new morning masterclass package that allows guests the chance to make and eat their own fine-dining fare.

Can-dough attitude

Bread first. The five of us huddled round a stainless steel surface, taking it in turns to knead a sourdough. Wax on, wax off – Mr Miyagi would be have been good at this. It took a little time to get it right, but before long we were turning out pretty plump pebbles, ready for the oven.

Pied a Terre teambuilding cookery class

Asimakis then unveiled a live lobster, which was deftly skewered before going on the boil. The claw meat came out first, some to be served as-is on the plate and some in a cannelloni. The plate was finished with Cornish baby leaf lettuce and a delicate tranche of corn on the cob.

Pied a Terre teambuilding cookery class

‘Can we eat it?’ said one of my gang. Before Asimakis had time to finish his single-word answer a fork-jousting competition had begun. What a treat to see the masterful method, and then destroy its art in the name of a tasty bite.

Phwoar gras

But the foie gras was superior. We squeezed and tied cooked livers into a muslin sausage before letting it set in the fridge. A ‘here’s one I made earlier’ was revealed for us to slice off a fat disc and plate it up with a lavender and cocoa brioche. Asimakis then signed it off with a port reduction.

Pied a Terre teambuilding cookery class

It was apparent, at that point, that the experience was less a hands-on cookery class and more a leisurely stroll along the promenade of fine dining – with a safe pair of hands leading the way. All of the glory, none of the grease.

Pied a Terre teambuilding cookery class

That’s not to say we didn’t learn, though. Asimakis was careful to impart useful tips and we even got a bit of industry gossip thrown in. Something that kept us chattering our way through a rather special four-course, wine-pared lunch that followed upstairs. Orwell would have loved it.

The detail 

Pied à Terre’s fine-dining masterclasses can be booked every first and third Friday in the month, or by appointment with a minimum of 3 guests. The experience starts at £195 per person.

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Photos Max Miechoski

Don’t fancy a foodie masterclass? Check these other teambuilding ideas out