TOKYO VIC ACADEMY EMAIL MAGAZINE
This interview was presented back in February 2005 – so please note there have been quite a lot of changes in my scheduling and pricing!
- Q1: When did you start your teaching?
- Q2: Could you let us know your course curriculum and the characteristic aspect?
- Q3: What is the most attractive for you through this job?
- Q4: When do you feel difficluties in your teaching?
- Q5: On the contrary, when do you feel enjoyable in your lessons?
- Q6: Could you tell us one of unforgetable through teaching?
- Q7: Please give message to our readers.
Q1 When did you start your teaching?
I first started teaching cooking 18 years ago (1985) when my youngest child was 3 and a half. My speciality was Italian main courses and English desserts.
It was only about two and a half years ago that I thought of the idea of teaching afternoon tea classes to the Japanese community. The idea came about because I was giving an informal English lesson to a Japanese friend and I noticed how relaxed she was when we were sitting in my kitchen having a cup of tea. I thought it would be an ideal way of combining English conversation lessons with learning about English cooking and culture.
A Japanese friend helped me word an advert and I offered Afternoon Tea courses of 4 lessons which were very popular.
After about a year I was approached by a Japanese tour company called ‘My Bus’, who had heard about my lessons and asked me if I would design a tour especially for them to suit visitors to London.
Q2: Could you let us know your course curriculum and the
I designed a course which is held in my traditional Victorian home every Thursday from 10.30 -1.30pm. but because we do so much in the class it usually lasts for three and a half hours.
As from this April 1st , I will be starting the class a half an hour earlier at 10am so that we can finish on time at 1.30pm! The price for students will, however, remain the same.
The class is effectively arranged in two stages. The first part of the class involves the baking and preparation of the main ingredients on the menu. This takes part in my large family kitchen and everybody gets a chance to make shortbread from scratch and they also participate in the making of speciality sandwiches and scones.
In the second part of the class, everybody takes off their aprons and we all carry the food into the sitting room and enjoy a full tea in the traditional way. I then explain several aspects of etiquette concerning the making and pouring of tea and students get a chance to practice this for themselves. While the students are enjoying their tea, I tell them about the history of Afternoon Tea. After this there is a good opportunity for general conversation and an opportunity for the students to get to know each other.
Students often want to continue with the baking class, so I also offer two extra classes held on alternate Tuesday afternoons from 2pm- 5.30pm. In these classes I teach Victoria Sandwich (sponge) cake and Chocolate Roulade in Class A and lemon curd and chocolate Florentine biscuits in class B. (the fee for each class is £40-00).
I also offer cookery courses entitled ‘The Best of British’ when I teach favourite British recipes like roast lamb and apple crumble. These classes are held on Fridays from 10am-2pm and the cost of £40-00 includes a fine lunch!
Q4: When do you feel difficluties in your teaching?
The difficulties I experience are not many. I suppose the main thing is that it is very hard work and the classes require a lot of advanced preparation in order to run smoothly. I have recently purchased a high kitchen stool so that I can do some of the teaching sitting down and it has helped me a lot. Washing up and clearing up after the class is also not my favourite part, but that’s not much of a surprise is it?!
Q3: What is the most attractive for you through this job?
What I enjoy immensely about this work are the people. I just love working with the Japanese community with whom I have a special affinity. I have met some truly delightful people and we have a lot of fun and laughter in the classes. I always try to relax my students and encourage them to just have fun and enjoy it. Surprisingly it is not always women who come to my class.
I have had six gentlemen so far and this included two honeymoon couples! I also have been delighted to welcome families with teenage children who wanted to join the class. In many cases, my students have come to London on account of their husbands jobs and it is lovely for them to meet other women in the same situation. It pleases me very much that some firm friendships have been formed at my classes.
As well as the group classes I also offer individual tuition which I find especially rewarding. Individual tuition in cooking or baking is available on request. (The rate is £100-00 for a three and a half hour class).
Q6: Could you tell us one of unforgetable through teaching?
In my sitting room, where I conduct the second half of the lesson, I am lucky enough to have a very nice baby grand piano. On one occasion a discussion about music developed and one of my students turned out to be a very accomplished pianist. She was really missing her own piano and delighted us all by playing the most beautiful music for us. It was a magical moment. I noticed that one of the other students looked particularly thoughtful and it turned out that she had been a ballet dancer and the piece of music played had been her audition piece and therefore of immense importance to her. It was an extraordinary coincidence.
Q7: Please give message to our readers.
My message to you all is that entertaining friends in the home is a very lovely thing and I like to encourage my students to feel more confident and relaxed about doing it in their own way and in their own style. While it is of course important to know how to make food that tastes and looks good, I believe that the attitude that we create as hosts and hostesses is the most important thing of all. While of course it is nice to prepare something that will please and even impress your friends, what is more important is that they are made to feel relaxed and comfortable and truly welcomed.