Saturday Kitchen experience with Jose Pizarro at Cactus Kitchen

saturday kitchen

Behind the scenes of the Saturday morning TV show with all of your favourite guest chefs

Cactus Kitchen is a recently opened cookery school venture from Cactus Studios in Clapham. The cookery school holds cookery classes with Michel Roux Jnr and Monica Galetti, and as the home of Saturday Kitchen, they also run a behind the scenes experience for fans of the show and cooking enthusiast alike.

ETL were lucky enough to get an invite to their Saturday Kitchen Experience with one of our favourite chefs, Jose Pizarro, and with no preconceptions we were really excited to see what the afternoon would hold. We arrived at Cactus after they had finished the morning of filming and were led up to the cookery school in the eaves of the roof to meet Jose.

The cookery demonstration began straight away and Jose was light-hearted, really informative and got everyone involved. He made a delicate and flavour packed stuffed fillet of monkfish wrapped in Serrano ham and a romesco sauce. As he was cooking he talked to us about Spanish food, the best ingredients to buy, the right smoked paprika to use and regales us with stories of Saturday Kitchen blunders. A few of us had a go ourselves at rolling and tieing the monkfish and with detailed instruction from Jose produced four fillets that were seared and roasted.

cactus cooking school

We had a little nibble on the cooked fish before we were taken to our own stations to take part in the famous Saturday Kitchen omelette challenge, which if I’m honest made me quite nervous and I didn’t come out well. Time challenges are not my forte.

After the cooking we sat down at the dining table for a thoughtfully put together wine matching with producer Andy, who has learned a lot from the show’s wine gurus. We wine pair some interesting wines that blow our expectations about supermarket own brand wine right out of the wine barrel. If we had one criticism it is that we would have loved to have eaten a full plate of the monkfish with the wine pairings.

Finally Cactus’ manager took us on a tour of the whole studio from the Saturday Kitchen set and producers’ gallery to the green room and even the tiny home economist’s kitchen where they clear up after James Martin and test all of the dishes for timings.

For fans of the show this is a really exciting afternoon getting to see how James and the many crew put on this live show every week – one surprise was the complete run through including every dish, which happens at 5am before the filming… exhausting! If you’re not an avid SK fan it’s still fascinating to learn from the cookery demonstration and getting to peak behind the smokescreen of television, ultimately it made us really want to work for a cookery programme… so if you’re looking for a new runner you know where to find us.

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