By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: The fifth and latest Sydney Cooking School celebrated its official opening last night in Neutral Bay. The new school, which is run by two experienced chefs/friends, is located opposite the Oaks on Military Road.

With gourmet cooking at home very zeitgeist, professional caterers Camilla and Brett chose to combine their love of epicurean delights with a boon business, converting the former pet store in Neutral Bay into a kitchen classroom. The long narrow school – similar to a New Orleans shotgun shack – has been cleared of pet hair and feathers, with gleaming white tabletops and high-end cooking appliances replacing the cages and aquariums.

These new appliances are from Fisher & Paykel’s high-end range. Students at the school (and enrolments are already rivalling the nearby private schools) learn while using these F&P ovens, cooktops and whitegoods, giving the iconic New Zealand supplier an informal introduction to its aspirational target market.

F&P national marketing manager Peter Russell said this was the “right fit” for his brand, with the school’s location in one of Sydney’s more affluent suburbs attracting upwardly mobile consumers — that is, people who can afford premium appliances — to the products.

This branding and product experience initiative is part of F&P’s wider strategy to move away from the perception that it specialises in what Russell calls “white boxes”. By this, he refers to F&P’s strong heritage in laundry and kitchen whitegoods. He now wants Fisher & Paykel to be recognised as a serious cooking appliance manufacturer, a point that is reinforced by this association with Cooking Schools around the country.

The event itself was a pleasant throwback to the Fitzgerald era, with guests sipping champagne and fine wines, whilst nibbling on some exquisite canapés. The seafood paella, which was prepared in view on a Fisher & Paykel hob, was particularly good. The Cooking School assured that none of the pets were harmed in the making of these treats.