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Muddy review: Online cookery with Larks Live

Muddy ups our culinary game with Larks Live, a fun interactive online cookery school you can join at home. Plus, we have £960 worth of cookery classes to give away!

THE LOCATION

It’s five to six on Friday night in lockdown and surprise, surprise, I’m Chez Buckland. But things are hotting up in the kitchen. I have an apron on and I’m typing in a Zoom link to join Larks Live, a fun new interactive online cooking platform, created here in Devon.

THE LOWDOWN

Larks Live was launched in the first lockdown by Clodagh Murphy, a keen foodie, who is originally from Ireland and is now settled in Exeter with her husband and three kids. An astute business woman with a background in IT services in FTSE 250 companies, Clodagh saw how lockdown was hitting hospitality businesses and restaurants – including those of her own family back in Ireland – and decided to use her undoubtable tech skills to create a platform to help hard-hit chefs and show keen foodies how to make restaurant-quality dishes at home.

It’s easy-peasy to enrol on a course. Simply log in, sign up and pay the fee (£25 for this one) and the day before you get sent a Zoom link.

So far, they’ve covered Friday night Tapas and Tails (with cocktails, goody), homemade pasta, sourdough, wine tastings, mouth-watering desserts and loads of other fab-sounding seasonal dishes.

You might know some of the local chefs, such as Tim Maddams, an ex-chef from River Cottage, or Jazzi Curley previously of Exeter Cookery School which sadly closed in 2020. Others are from further afield, including my tutor, Indian cookery expert, Sharmini Thomas who’s originally from Kerala and based in Yorkshire.

The website is great, with useful filters, a helpful download button for your shopping list, and a profile to get the gen on your tutor. Plus, there’s advance info on any pre-prep, so all you need is a Zoom app downloaded to your laptop, your ingredients, some basic cooking gear and you’re ready to go.

THE COURSE

I’m booked in to make a saag paneer curry and phulka chapati, perfect for Veganuary.

Sharmini’s smiley face pops up on my screen and over the next hour and a half, she explains how to make a make chapati dough, build a curry and layer spices from scratch, get tofu to taste ace (one that’s always evaded me) and finally cook the chapati in a pan and straight on the hob flame.

It’s all very informal, and you can ask questions right through. Sometimes we just watch as Sharmini demos a tricky technique, at other times we simultaneously crack on together. Occasionally, she asks to see your pan and will step in if something doesn’t look right – you don’t get that from a cookery book.

Sharmini’s tips on cooking with Indian spices are my favourite part. It was a real eye opener to discover that although I have the right ingredients in my cupboard, like cumin, ground coriander and turmeric, unless you cook them properly, they never reveal that authentic flavour.

Normally, there are up to 12 people on the course, but even with just three us, we chat away and have a laugh. And two weeks into lockdown, it’s wonderful to meet someone *anyone!* outside my bubble.

I also loved the Friday night timing of my course as my gastronomic achievement was plated up and ready for my hungry hordes to eat by 7.30pm on Friday night.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Brilliant! I’m not known for my cooking skills (think Bridget Jones and the blue soup) but with Larks Live I cooked the best curry I’ve ever made. Mine might not be as pretty as Sharmini’s but it got a 5 star rating from the tribe. Even that chapati which looks like Ryvita (I bought the wrong flour, duh). A billion times better than if I’d followed a cookbook or TV show. I’m definitely planning to book in for more, maybe with a friend or two I’m missing in lockdown.

Good for: keen foodies, from beginners to experienced cooks; clueless students living away from home; learning a new style such as Indian or Mexican; rebooting your cooking mojo; networking with likeminded foodies; dinner party cooks; food fest demo lovers.

Not for: camera-shy cooks or Zoom-phobes.

The damage: £25, plus the cost of ingredients.

Hungry for more? You will be! Muddy has plated up the chance for four lucky readers to WIN online Intermediate Larks Live Cookery Course, worth a whopping £960.

Find more ideas here

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