Hampstead mum delivers cooking lessons to your door

Rhiannon Edwards meets the chef who is on a mission to make everyone a better cook

If the 80s was the era of self-sufficiency and the 90s the era of self-help, then the last 11 years have been the era of the coach, .

Nowadays, it is possible to get coached for anything from exercise and parenting to the way you look and speak and even your whole life plan. We live in a world of personal trainers, life coaches, stylists and organisation gurus.

Now, a Hampstead-based chef has set up the Kitchen Coach to help people who can and can’t cook to improve their culinary skills- in the comfort and familiarity of their own kitchen.

It would be easy to dismiss Justine Kanter’s new venture as another slice of a sector that makes money out of other people’s lack of self- confidence.

But, as Kanter enters my kitchen with two bags full of food and equipment and introduces herself and her ideas, I quickly realise that her passion is not coaching – it’s food.

The Le Cordon Bleu- trained mother, who founded an organic packed lunch service called Banana On A Bike, pulls out her ingredients. Today, we are making a rib of beef and an Asian salad. The menu is the prescription to cure the kitchen woes that surfaced in a previous half an hour consultation I had with Kanter, where she asked me about my lifestyle, whether I eat for pleasure or sustenance and who I cook for, as well as broader questions about time and how much money I have to spend.

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Kanter has a professional demeanour in the kitchen, but the home-ec style cookery lecture I expect with trepidation never seems to materialise. Instead, as we cook, we chat about good ingredients, presentation, the importance of being prepared so you have fun cooking and never being a slave to measurements. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m in control of the kitchen, even though I have a beef rib in the oven, some gravy on the boil and some vegetables sizzling in a hot wok. I’m multi-tasking and it feels good.

It’s easy to see why Kanter’s rapidly expanding client base, which includes every demographic from a successful, time-poor businessman (who started a now national food business) to a group of teenagers, invite her back into their homes to have culinary fun. All the time, I’m learning, tasting and, more importantly, enjoying myself.

After around an hour and a half, a smoke-out induced by my pre-historic oven and a knife sharpening session, our simple and delicious creations are ready – a hot and fragrant salad and a perfectly cooked beef rib that is pink and juicy inside. Heston wouldn’t bat an eyelid, but my vegan housemate (who Kanter took into account when she designed my lesson) tucks into the salad like it is her last meal as I marvel at my clean kitchen (cleaner, in fact, then when we had started cooking) and relish my first ever successful attempt to cook meat.

Later on, after Kanter has whipped away her knives and her chef’s jacket, a friend, (who happens to be a chef too) pops round to have a drink and a chat. Before I have even shut the front door, he’s in my kitchen and chops into the remaining beef, popping it into his mouth in the cavalier way of a kitchen veteran. “This beef is tasty,” he chomps. “Did you cook this?” “Yes, I did,” I reply smugly. It seems the proof really is in the eating.

n A one-hour session with the Kitchen Coach costs �80. More information is available from www.kitchencoach.biz.