Venturi’s Table Cookery Class

There is a very big difference between eating good food and being able to cook it, and my repertoire is what the polite would call ‘patchy’. With this in mind, the opportunity to make fresh pasta under the eyes of trained professionals was one I couldn’t really afford to miss.

That said, it’s the hottest day of the year, and a steaming, windowless kitchen is the last place I want to be.

At the front door is Bella Blackett, event management professional and one half of the directorial duo that took over the kitchen last December. Her fellow director and business partner Laura Beaumont is a career caterer, and heads up the food side of the business. I’m ushered into a kitchen roughly the size of my own flat, and my reservations dissipate entirely.

Kitchen (2)

The ‘Sicilian kitchen’ has big, high ceilings, polished marble surfaces, and every pot, pan and kitchen utensil conceivable. I barely notice the wall of fridges, or the conference room attached to the left hand side. This is far too nice a place to speedily turn out soufflé under the beady eyes of maniacal perfectionist. Bella, sensing my confusion, talks me through what the kitchen (and its slate-and steel Milanese counterpart next door) is actually for.

As a corporate cookery school, Venturi’s table is squarely aimed at capturing all the feelings that come with creating a great meal. They describe it as ‘culinary therapy’; instead of focusing solely on the production of a plate of food, the team aim to amplify the transformative process that go along with it. They regularly cater to stag and hen parties, as well as board meetings and the usual team-building exercises. You don’t need to be a chef, or even a semi-taught halfwit like me to get on here because perfection is not the end goal, enjoyment is.

Today we’re making ravioli with a spinach and ricotta filling, pea pesto, and pink and green tagliatelle, using beetroot and spinach to make the colours. With close instruction from Laura and head chef Kasia, we begin mixing and kneading our flour, egg and vegetable juice together. I have my technique corrected a few times, and once I pick up a rhythm my ball of purple dough starts to look like everyone else’s. Even though we’re all there to learn, I’m anxious not to reduce my dough to little pink pebbles of failure.

Whilst the dough rests, we make the pesto. Peas, basil, cream, olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper go into the magi-mixer, and are blended until smooth. It’s a lovely twist on pasta’s most popular accompaniment. It comes out a lovely pale green, tastes clean and creamy, and smells like a vegetable patch.


After a quick sample, we’re back on the dough. Laura and Kasia demonstrate cutting the dough into manageable blocks, and winding it through the hand-cranked presses fixed to the corners of the island. We’re given pointers on piping the filling into our ravioli, and are let loose. I manage to safely press all but 2 of my little parcels, and turn out a serviceable sheet of pasta after a few false starts. The ravioli is then dusted with semolina flour to stop it sticking, and our long sheets of dough are cut into strips, thus creating tagliatelle.


Our hard work is quickly boiled, tossed in a little of the starchy water, then served. Manners are observed and we all wait an aching 3 minutes (craftily filling the time with instagram shots) before diving head-long into the fruits of our labours.

The tagliatelle has retained half of its colour, and when mixed with the pea pesto it tastes as light as any noodle, but is far more filling. There’s a sage and brown butter coating on the ravioli that mixes with the spinach in the pasta to make it so earthy one could assume it was picked from the ground. The ricotta and the butter add a glassy richness that rounds off each mouthful. Most guests stick with the chilled Bedin Prosecco, but I go for a cold Peroni instead. Between the food, the beer, the heat and the company, I could very well be in Sicily.

The illusion endures too. When I do finally make my way outside, I’m half-expecting to see Don Corelone watering his tomatoes. Venturi’s manages to mix the atmosphere of a dinner with friends, with all the relaxing traits of cooking a meal yourself. The quality of the teaching is excellent, as is the hospitality you’re shown from the minute you enter. For those that find cooking stressful, this could be a transformative experience too, as there’s very little you can worry about with a full plate in front of you, a few new skills in your pocket, and a light dusting of flour covering any exposed skin.


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Reporter: Joe Emerick

Full Plate

Venturi’s Table

6 Morie Street

Wandsworth Town