It starts with a cheese so blooming beautiful it’s almost too good to eat. Encrusted in finely chopped herbs and adorned with delicate pastel petals it awaits on a platter at Sprout Cooking, Adelaide Central Market, in South Australia.
Sprout is the ‘baby’ of a partnership between two personable young lads; MasterChef’s Callum Hann and dietitian Themis Chryssidis.
The pair met three years ago when Callum was teaching university students how to cook. The business evolved out of their different, but similar passions.
“We came at the business from different angles,” explains Callum.
Themis, a practising dietitian and personal trainer, wished he could show clients how easy it can be to prepare the healthy meals he advocated. Callum loved to cook, and eat, simple-to-prepare dishes that just happened to be healthy.
So Sprout Cooking was born, with the aim of teaching people how easy it is to prepare delicious, healthy meals at home while motivating them to take control of their health. As well as the signature ‘quick, easy and healthy’ class, there are sessions on vegetarian cooking, cooking on a budget, gluten free and calorie-friendly classes.
I’m lucky enough to visit the school as part of an AAT Kings short break, called South Australian Harvest. (See more below.)
We meet the boys in their light and airy training kitchen above the market, where brightly coloured aprons and utensils beckon from benches along with tantalising fresh ingredients.
“Cheese is high on my priorities,” says Callum as we tuck into the pretty Woodside Monet goat’s cheese around the communal table before we head down to the market to meet some of the suppliers.
There’re more delicious cheeses to sample at the Smelly Cheese Shop, artisan breads at Wild Loaf, Kangaroo Island honey at the House of Health and aromatic cured meats at Lucia’s Charcuterie, not to mention chocolate from the fountain at Providore.
Back in the kitchen we watch as Themis and Callum show us how to prepare the first of three courses, before we divide into small groups to reproduce it ourselves. As we finely slice red chillies and grate carrot for a pork and green apple salad the boys wander around dispensing amiable advice on chopping techniques and cooking methods.
As we sit down to eat each course with matching O’Leary Walker wines, the boys rush around doing our dishes and preparing the next round of ingredients.
We conjure up Cajun salmon with dill yoghurt and a peach salad without any trouble, but crumble when it comes to plating up the deconstructed cheese cake, resulting in some unappealing artistic creations. But it’s hilarious fun and tastes good all the same.
The nutritional meals are easy to recreate at home, as Cullum suggests alternative ingredients if there’s something you don’t have in the pantry (eg lime juice instead of rice wine vinegar).
Enthused, I whipped up both mains at home with ease (well, after I buy myself a julienne grater) and introduced the family to fried shallots and smoked almonds, two ingredients I haven’t used before.
And that says a lot, as although I’ve been privileged to attend several cooking classes around the world, this is the first time I’ve reproduced the dishes so quickly and easily at home.
Well done lads!
More: Callum was runner up in the 2010 series of MasterChef and winner of the 2012 MasterChef All Stars, securing $20,000 for the Cancer Council. He has since published two cook books. Themis is an accredited dietitian and personal trainer working in private practice, corporate health and sports nutrition. www.sproutcooking.com.au
Adelaide Central Market www.adelaidecentralmarket.com.au
I travelled to South Australia as a guest of AAT Kings on their South Australian Harvest Short Break coach tour, which focuses on regional produce, interesting characters, and gorgeous landscapes. You can read more about the trip in this article in Escape.