The best sausage we ever tasted was comforting and juicy, with a light shine on its tanned skin and charred spots on some crispy edges. Even before it was cooked, it had a sweet aroma that filled the air and a dark red colour from the wine it was made with. The sausage was so deliciously pungent that, if we were alone, our mouths may have watered before taking each bite. But at a cooking class in mid-town Toronto, we thought it better to avoid the urge to secure odd stares from the classmates. Perhaps it was the lean meat chosen by artisan sausage maker Angelo Bean, or maybe because we had made it ourselves from unappealing meaty mush to a succulent, sweet finished product — but what we ate that day has forever raised our standards for a delicious sausage.
Culinarium Cupboard is a cooking school that has classes throughout Toronto, like Sensational Sausage — sausage-making 101. Founded by Kathleen Mackintosh in 2008, Culinarium started as a retail concept to showcase delicious local foods. When she closed the store in 2013, she continued running cooking classes as a platform to share her knowledge of how to cook meals at home that use what Ontario has to offer. Kathleen, who is a very friendly and attentive assistant in each class, states:
To fully enjoy great food you have to know what to do with it, how to cook it, how to serve it and of course good food is always best when shared with good friends.
They run different types of classes — like homemade pasta, one-pot cooking, seasonal soups, and savoury pies — featuring techniques that, like making sausages, require a class all to themselves. Classes are run within Mt. Pleasant Village at a couple different locations, like Irpinia Kitchens, which is a high-end kitchen design store with functioning professional setups that are built perfectly for students to gather around a gigantic island and get their hands dirty in luxury. The classes are led by Kathleen and a professional, like Angelo Bean, who will share their expertise in a demonstration and then allow you to try yourself.
Our class began with beverages and snacks for students while we watched a demo by Angelo on the process of making sausages from scratch. He explained the importance of a good piece of meat, and revealed the most important part of sausage making — how to eliminate the bad fat (slimy and elastic) but keep the good fat (firm and delicious), which commercially made sausages fail to do. He showed the class some crucial knife skills plus the importance of sanitation and taught us to keep the meat cold until the last minute. We were then shown how to safely use a classic hand grinder (which will momentarily have you envisioning a scene from Sweeney Todd) and real hog castings. When it was our turn to try, the class was split into two teams, one with reisling and one with baco noir, each to make a set of wine-infused sausages with Angelo, who happens to be a wine connoisseur, as our guide.
Culinarium is a great place to start to learn skills in the kitchen that reading cookbooks won't teach you. The part-demo, part–hands on approach allows you to confidently grasp what you're learning and can be applied to other aspects of cooking. Kathleen says,
Our vision of food preparation is a simple one. We want to teach skills and techniques that can be applied to many recipes to build confidence for the passionate cook to then experiment on their own with delicious results.
For $99, you get to participate in an intimate class led by experts, make something mouthwateringly delicious for dinner, and even take a package home with you to show friends and family. With dinner, Kathleen made a beautifully coloured salad sprinkled with watermelon radish, and although everything we ate that night was life-changingly delicious, the best part had to be enjoying our success in the kitchen with like-minded individuals who are just as interested in learning their way around the kitchen us.
A professional Angelo Bean will share his expertise in a demonstration and then allow you to try it yourself
MEET THE PHOTOGRAPHER: BEA LABIKOVA
Bea is a Toronto based musician, photographer, teacher and a multidisciplinary visual artist. Growing up surrounded by her father’s antique camera collection, Bea was naturally inclined towards photography since an early age. She loves taking portraits of unique faces and always tries to capture the colours of the world around us. Her main areas of interest are documentary, performance and travel photography.