_Anyone can cook._
So said the famous chef whose initials include the letters A and G. No, not Gastón Acurio, but rather Chef Auguste Gusteau, the late culinary figure renowned by a rebellious rat in Pixar’s animated film, Ratatouille .
Many refuse to take this line seriously, and have done so well before it was attributed to a fictional cartoon character.
For Ignacio Barrios, it’s not about taking yourself seriously in the kitchen but rather having a good time while practicing or sharpening up a skill. His company, Urban Kitchen Perú, offers numerous culinary courses – from fresh pasta and bread making to exotic fare from Thailand – led by some of the best chefs and culinary experts in Peru.
“Our classes are designed so that anyone can learn no matter their level of experience in the kitchen,” says Ignacio, bringing a realistic sense of hope to the hopeless when it comes to culinary arts.
_(Photo: Living in Peru/Connie Lee)_
_Living in Peru_ visited Urban Kitchen located in Lima’s Magdalena del Mar district, on Javier Prado. Although a bit cold and non-descript from the outside, inside Urban Kitchen the atmosphere is quite homey: a shiny, wide-open kitchen is tastefully decorated with colorful utensils, a few modern art pieces here and there, and plenty of cookbooks. One would hardly have guessed that a decades-old bakery once resided here.
When Urban Kitchen began two years ago, the kitchen was set up to accommodate an ideal fourteen guests; now, due to the opportunity brought on by a seemingly instant success, the space is set up to welcome well over 20 people. _(The day of Living in Peru’s visit to Urban Kitchen, Ignacio and his team were preparing to welcome a 30-member group the following day.)_ A large dining area awaits on the second floor where, after all the preparatory steps have been accomplished, students can enjoy the result of their hard work in a light-hearted atmosphere.
“It’s ideal to be comfortable, for me and the guests,” highlights Ignacio. “I’m not going to teach you how to cook…I’m going to show you how to feel comfortable in the kitchen so that you can lose that fear and just have fun.”
_Greats like Elena Santos and Mitsuharu Tsumura visit Urban Kitchen(Photo: Urban Kitchen Facebook)_
Urban Kitchen is Ignacio’s first business, however his professional experience counts with restaurants in London, Madrid and Lima’s own Astrid&Gastón. With many professional and amiable connections in Lima’s culinary scene, Ignacio is able to bring great talents to help him lead the courses such as Francesco de Sanctis ( Sibaris Monica Kisic (IK), Mitsuharu Tsumura ( Maido Héctor Solis (La Picantería) and Arlette Eulert ( Matria just to name a few.
He tells us that beginners and foodies interested in dabbling in front of the stove fill Urban Kitchen courses, as well as those who have some practice and know-how in the kitchen.
Why would someone who already knows how to prepare classic Peruvian food sign up for a cooking class?
“They are going to see something different here,” explains Ignacio, referring to the latter. “They may know how to prepare a great _lomo saltado_, but we offer classes on Indian, Thai, Japanese food.”
Fluent in English, Ignacio tells us that the courses are also available for expats and tourists, and that he works with a few tourist agencies (preferred language can be selected when reserving a class online). Courses on _ceviche_ are popular with foreigners, expectedly so, although Ignacio indulges that _carapulcra_, one of his favorites, is a national dish he wishes more visitors to the country would try.
Companies have even begun to use Urban Kitchen as a relaxed team-building tool. “As well, people who just want to have fun and do something different with their friends on a Saturday night come here, enjoy a glass of wine and learn something new.”
Although Ignacio commonly serves his guests a glass of wine during the class, guests are more than welcome to bring a bottle of wine of their own (not that _Living in Peru_ asked or anything…).
For me it’s key that you walk out of here with a positive experience. And that starts from the moment that you make a reservation with us.
_To see available classes and book a class, visit Urban Kitchen on Facebook (link below). It is recommended to make a reservation a few days in advance._