AS A child I loved sitting at the kitchen bench as my mum or dad cooked.
Helping where I could, stealing cubes of cheese and olives from the salad bowl or eating biscuits still warm from the oven.
Sitting at the bench in Kitchen Confidence as Bundaberg chef Wayne Bryans talked through the meal our cooking class was about to create, it felt every bit as warm and homely as my childhood kitchen memories.
There was nothing daunting about the class, no pressure to chop and stir, cook and create and try to make sure your own individual dish turned out perfectly enough to grace the pages of a cooking magazine.
Watching or helping, with as much or as little participation as you feel comfortable, the end result was still a turkey roast dinner with all the trimmings including Yorkshire puddings, chestnut stuffing, bread sauce and gravy made from pan juices, for everyone to enjoy.
Mr Bryans made the class feel at ease, laughing and joking while he generously offered tips and advice learnt from his years as a professional chef, the atmosphere remained relaxed.
"If something is over complicated and you don't even know how to pronounce what you're eating, why would you bother?" he said.
"Food doesn't need to be pretentious and wanky.
"Don't over complicate food."
Another key point I noticed as we made our way through the various side dishes was that is that every ingredient was readily available from the supermarket or butchers right here in Bundaberg.
"If I can't buy the ingredients in Bundaberg then you can't buy the ingredients either so there's no point me cooking with them," he said.
"Keep the food real by using fresh ingredients and allow the food to create its own flavours.
"Don't try too hard and work with the food."
Cooking class regular Warren Carey has been attending the Wednesday morning class at Kitchen Confidence each week since October and said the classes do exactly what the name of the business suggests.
"I've become a lot more confident in the kitchen," he said.
"I have the confidence to try more complicated recipes."
Offering adult week nightly classes as well as the Wednesday morning class, Mr Bryans is also hoping to inspire the next generation to reach for healthy, fresh ingredients with his children's classes.
"We find in the children's classes there are kids who don't want to eat things such as mushrooms or avocados," he said.
"We don't put any pressure on them to eat anything but because they are immersed and involved with the cooking process we always find that if some of the children are eating it then most times they'll try it as well.
"Parents walk in and say 'Is that my kid eating spinach?'."
For Mr Bryans, since opening the doors at the Barolin St cooking school, it's been a remarkable success.
"I built the kitchen to seat 12 because at first a class with six or eight felt like a lot," he said.
"Now a class that size feels half-hearted.
"We take group bookings but it needs to be 12 or more, we're filling classes that size every night.
"I've found with the right seats I can squeeze in 21."
With up to 100 participants a week taking classes, Mr Bryans relies on his vast array of cook books and experience in the kitchen to come up with new and exciting recipes.
Featuring cuisine from around the world, each class offers something different so whether you want to take one or many classes, you're guaranteed to learn something new and be able to dish up some impressive meals to friends and family.
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