Food Restaurants

Cibo e Vino, Castle Hill: Cooking for Friends

If cooking for friends or family is one of your passions, there is a good chance that you have pondered what it would be like to cook in a restaurant’s kitchen. At Cibo e Vino, you can have that experience.

Cibo e Vino, Castle Hill
Chef Paul Toogood, Cibo e Vino

Cibo e Vino offers a modern Italian dining experience in the heart of Castle Hill. Founded in 2007, the 50 seater restaurant is the best rated in Castle Hill in the SMH Good Food Guide 2012.

Under the tutelage of Chef Paul Toogood, you can take part in a hands-on intimate cooking class that ends with a twist. Over three hours, you get to prepare and cook a three course meal then serve it to three of your invited guests.

At an abridged version of the cooking class tailored for media, participants prepared three dishes using linguine, orecchiette and potato gnocchi which were served with different sauces.

Cibo e Vino, Castle Hill
Paul demonstrating how to shape the orecchiette

Paul demonstrated how to shape the orecchiette from pre-prepared dough made with fine semolina and flour. Using the thumb to flatten the small pieces, each was rolled then shaped into “ears”. The orecchiette were cooked for 8 minutes then added to chicken stock and enriched with grated truffle pecorino.

Cibo e Vino, Castle Hill
Top: shaping the orecchiette; Bottom: preparing the linguine

Next, came the preparation of the linguine which was made from 00 flour and whole eggs which had been mixed and kneaded then left to rest for 1.5 hours. The dough was reworked and passed through the pasta machine several times before going through the linguine cutter.

An accompanying sauce made with green prawns, baby peas, cherry tomatoes and basil was freshly prepared and seasoned with a hint of dry chilli to lift the flavours.

Cibo e Vino, Castle Hill
Preparing potato gnocchi

Preparing potato gnocchi from scratch was the highlight of the class, with Paul explaining the importance of letting the boiled potatoes air dry after they have been steamed. Once passed through a mouli, an egg yolk was added with a little flour and semolina before working the mixture lightly to combine all ingredients. The resultant dough needs to have a small bounce and not be too hard, and this was obtained by alternating equal amounts of flour and semolina to achieve the right balance.

Once ready, the dough was rolled into a thick log, cut in quarter logs then rolled out with flour before being cut into small pieces about 1.5 cm long.

The gnocchi was cooked in boiling water with the heat turned down until the gnocchi came to the surface. The accompanying sausage sauce was prepared in advance using a house-style sausage meat.

Cibo e Vino, Castle Hill

After the class, it was time to sit at the table and enjoy all the dishes that everyone has taken part in preparing.

Cibo e Vino, Castle Hill
Orechiette with truffle pecorino

Cibo e Vino, Castle Hill
Linguine with prawns, peas, cherry tomatoes and basil

Cibo e Vino, Castle Hill
Potato gnocchi with house-made sausage sauce

Cibo e Vino, Castle Hill
Cibo e Vino

Cooking for Friends costs $270 and includes instruction by Paul, 3 invitation passes and lunch for friends, all ingredients and equipment as well as a recipe pack of all the dishes prepared to take home. Participants prepare a three course meal (an entrée, main and dessert) starting at 9.30 am with their guests arriving between 12.00pm to 12.30pm. A limit of four participants in each class ensures that the tuition remains personal.

The vibe in the class is informal and relaxed. Paul injects his easy-going personality into the session making it informative, hands-on and a lot of fun, with everyone being comfortable in the kitchen.

Sessions run on Saturdays with the next class being on 21 July 2012, followed by 18 August 2012 and 15 September 2012. Now the dream of cooking for friends in a commercial kitchen can become a reality.

Cibo e Vino Restaurant
Shop 2, 299 Old Northern Road
Castle Hill, NSW
Ph: 02 8002 0912


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.