Review: Taking up Cooking Lessons at ABC Cooking Studio.

ABC best selection menuBest selection, picnic lunch to impress
This was my very first regular cooking lesson at ABC studio!

For cooking classes, you can choose from 4 menu:

  • Japanese home cooking
  • World cuisine
  • Best selections (exclusive to Takashimaya, Orchard)
  • Whole-meal cooking (exclusive to Westgate, Jurong)

The month written above the menu indicates when it is available.
This means, you only learn ‘A Stylish Picnic Lunch to Impress’ in June.

ABC Studio, menus available for cooking lessons

Every month, there are 4 menus available. This keeps things exciting as there is always something new to look forward to learning.

This arrangement works against members with tight schedules though. For instance, you have more free time in December, but the menu you wish to learn is only available in November/January.

Lessons are available for booking one month in advance (e.g. slots for 1 May lessons are released on 1 April, at midnight), so bear that in mind. Sometimes, members may cancel and release their time slot few days before the class. Just keep logging in to check.
p.s: 7.30pm slots on weekdays and all slots on weekends at Takashimaya are very popular and may be hard to book.

Because I’m a ‘C’ personality (‘C’ from DISC), details are my thing.

My powerpoint planning of lesson at ABC Cooking Studio
Planning how best to use my 12 cooking tickets

After signing up for 12 cooking lessons (ABC Studio terms it ‘cooking tickets’), first thing I did was this powerpoint to plan how to use my cooking tickets, LOL.

All lessons are booked online via the member’s portal, which looks like this:
ABC studio member portal
p.s: I have already booked the ‘WMC03’ lesson, hence there is no ‘reserve’ button beside it.

Video/Photography is not allowed during lessons. Plus, your hands will be busy at work and handling food, leaving you with little time for your phone. So snap away before lesson begins and afterwards.

What to expect at ABC Studio’s cooking lessons
Remember your membership ID. You’ll need that to login to the machine at the entrance of the studio. Once you have signed in, a slip will be printed. The table number is indicated on it.

Keep your bag in the locker. Bring along a pen and your mobile phone. Remove rings and watches. Put on your apron, wash your hands and be at the work station 15 minute before your lessons.

If you are early, the instructor will still be setting up the table. Find a seat and enjoy the complimentary drinks from the chiller.

ABC cooking studio before lessonABC lesson set up

Duration for cooking lessons at ABC Studio is 2 hours. There is 1 instructor to every table. Each table can have up to 4 students. You may enjoy a 1:1 class, if you are lucky.

Lessons are fully hands-on. The instructor will demonstrate and explain how to cut each vegetable / meat, before it is distributed amongst us. When cooking over the induction cooker, 2 students will share 1 frying pan.

I was a complete noob (instant noodles and fried egg doesn’t count) before attending cooking classes. Once, I volunteered at Willing Hearts Kitchen and had to prepare broccoli. I was completely lost as to where to cut up the broccoli and how small each floret should be. Felt more like a hindrance than help.

After 7 cooking classes, I can revisit volunteering at the soup kitchen.

After the lesson… It’s time to eat!
Once we have plated the dishes, the instructor will reserve a table for us at the dining area.
Spanish paella at ABC studio. Time to dine!
Paella: My favourite one-pan rice meal from ABC Studio

Then.. it’s time to take photos eat!
lesson at ABC Takashimaya studio
Made a friend during this takoyaki/yakisoba cooking lesson!

For regular lessons, you can bring lunch box to pack the leftovers. That’s what I always do.

At the end of the lesson, you will get to keep the recipe card and eat the food you have prepared. As much as possible, I prefer taking classes conducted by instructors who are knowledgeable and willing to share about the ingredients/alternatives etc.

Instructors I have taken cooking classes with:

  • Ken Yeap
  • Ow Yong Shawn
  • Ming Foong
  • Pang Wei Lee   —  more housewife style

How much are the classes at ABC Cooking Studio?

Classes at ABC Studio aren’t cheap. Be prepared to spend $600 if you are interested in cake or bread lesson and $1,100 if you want to take cooking lesson.

Here’s the rates for the various genre:
Bread  —  ~$70/lesson
Cake  —  ~$80/lesson
Cooking  —  ~$90/lesson
Wagashi  —  ~$80/lesson
Kids  —  ~$85/lesson
For price list see here and packages here.

On a per lesson basis, I honestly feel that the classes are great value for money (small class size, no washing, fully hands-on). The catch is that classes (termed as ‘lesson tickets’) are only available in packages, there is no ala carte.

There is also a one-time membership fee of $140 (on the day of trial, it is $70).

There’s also these benefits when you sign up for lessons:

  • Free trial class, unlimited times (must attend with a non-member)   —  what I like the most. I also signed my daughter up for ABC studio’s student plan so she can enjoy this benefit 😀
  • Free ABC passport  (get 1 free regular lesson at each country where ABC studio has a branch, valid for 2 years)
  • Free regular lesson ticket, if your friend signs up

My friend strategise and took up the cheapest package, which is 6 cake lessons / 8 bread lessons.

Her intention was to take her time to enjoy free trial lessons. If her friend signs up, she can redeem a free cooking ticket (valued at $90/lesson).

Would I recommend taking classes at ABC Cooking Studio?
I enjoy the classes as it is a very pleasant and relaxing experience (that’s if you enjoy cooking/baking), everything is nicely set up by the instructor, I just got to be on time, bake/cook, learn, then go off.

First, you gotta do the sums. I feel that the biggest barrier is the price point ($600 / $1,100).

The second consideration would be time. Do you have control of your schedule? If are only able to find time to make a booking 3-4 days prior to the lesson date, you may not be able to find any vacancy.

Classes at Takashimaya branch during weekday nights and weekends are very popular. Lessons are best booked 1 month in advance, upon the release of the slots.

Now, if you are past the above considerations, you have passed the barriers! It is just a matter of which class to take.

After attending 7 cooking lessons (with 7 more to go), I was getting a little bored with cooking classes. But… I think that’s because my heart was leaning towards their cakes from the start!

I chose 12 cooking classes (the minimum for cooking) as I thought it is more practical as learning to cook is more useful than learning to bake. But I think it is best to go along with your interest.

/update: Certified addictive. After attending 10+ trial lessons, I was tempted to take on regular cake and bread lessons. Hence, when the Funan branch opened and ABC studio ran an attractive promotion, I took up 6 cake + 8 bread lesson tickets, hur hur hur. So you’ll still be seeing posts from me for a while.

Why did I pay $1k+ when I can get recipes from Youtube for $0?

I get this question a lot.

I used to have that thinking too. Cooking / baking lessons do value add as sometimes you can’t see the texture or colour you are supposed to get and certain times you have to engage your sense of taste or smell.

Instructors will also let you know nuggets of tips about preparing the ingredients or what else the sauces can be used for.

Personally, I feel these lessons has shortcut my learning process.

I do look for recipes on the net too, and I find the rate of success is higher now that I have some basics. Screwing up recipes and wasting ingredients spoils the fun, for me. When that happens, perhaps consider taking classes?

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