Carl on his ‘stage’ placement at Forest & Marcy with head chef Ciaran Sweeney
I’m originally from Oslo, Norway and trained at medical school for 6 years. Before coming to the cookery school, I spent the last couple of years working in a hospital and as a GP.
Cooking is a massive hobby of mine. I’d taught myself a lot from reading cookbooks and watching cookery shows on TV, but I’d reached a bit of a plateau where I felt I couldn’t go any further on my own. I needed to find a cookery course that would help me take my cooking up a notch.
I was researching cookery courses in Ireland which resulted in me having a really good talk with Lynda on the phone for about 45 minutes. She discussed all aspects of the course with me and said that it attracted people of all levels and abilities which was perfect for me. I watched the video on the website and liked what I read and on that basis, made the decision to head to Dublin.
The main thing that I wanted to achieve by doing the Three Month course was to be able to cook beautiful food without having to meticulously rely on using a recipe. I wanted to know how to prepare meat and fish properly, make sauces and good purees. I basically wanted the confidence to be able to go to the shop and think, oh they have great fish today, pick up a few other bits and pieces, go home and be able make a delicious meal.
Before the course, I would find a recipe I wanted to try, write down the list of ingredients, go to the shop and buy them and follow it step by step. Now I feel confident enough that I don’t need to do that anymore.
The course has taught me all of the basic principles. I’m full of ideas – I understand properly all the ways that an ingredient can be cooked. Before coming to the school, I would have probably boiled a beetroot because that’s the only way I knew how to cook it. Now I can roast it, salt bake it, pickle it and puree it. Applying the basic principles from one dish to another and having the knowledge of how to cook things without having to read recipes all of the time means that I can have more fun with my cooking and if something does go wrong, I’m able to correct my mistakes without having to start something all over again.
Whenever I’ve attempted to do pastry or desserts in the past, they’ve never really worked out for me so I just stopped trying. The course has changed all of that. When I return home, for the most part I plan to make my own bread every week. We’ve made so many different breads on the course that I know exactly what consistency I need to achieve with the various different doughs.
I’m full of confidence now – I’m planning to have friends over for dinner several times a week and I’m really looking forward to putting my new found skills into action and continually experimenting and developing.
Another important thing the course has taught me is how to plan. Every day on the course, we’ve had to write out an order of work sheet so that we were clear on what needed to be done and when. As a result, my approach to cooking is very different now and I’m a lot more relaxed. I think ahead and plan what can I do in advance and figure out what needs to be done last minute. Before, I was all over the place; my kitchen would be a mess and my quantities would always be too much.
I was never completely satisfied with my food before but now I am and a lot of that is down to approaching things in the right way.
Carl preparing his dessert dish during the practical exam
I found the guest chef days on the course very inspirational. I really enjoyed seeing up close how all of them work and what they do slightly differently and in the breaks, I’d spend time getting to know them. When my folks came over from Norway to visit, I took them for a meal at Forest Avenue. John Wyer (guest chef on the course) spotted me and came over to chat to us for ages and seated us right next to the kitchen so that we see everything that was happening. I loved taking my parents there and them getting to meet John like that – they’d never experienced that level of hospitality before and it wouldn’t have been possible without the course. I follow a lot of the guest chefs on Instagram now which is a great way for me to get inspiration for my cooking when I’m back home in Norway.
My best friend lived in Dublin for six years – she absolutely loved it and uses every excuse possible to come back. From speaking to her, I knew what I was signing up to in coming to Dublin and it has absolutely lived up to my expectations, both from a learning and a social perspective. Irish people are so friendly. You just get chatting to people and that happens all the time. People back home are very introvert so that’s been great for me to experience Irish culture and the way of life over the last 12 weeks.
My favourite memory of the course was waking up every day and going to the school to do something I love.