sharpen your cooking skills – update

a virtual cookery school change of plans

There’s a well loved Australian country song about a pub with no beer and for some reason I kept thinking about that over the weekend.

You see, I’ll be honest, the response to the Sharpen Your Cooking Skills class I was planning to run at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School was underwhelming, to say the least. So after consulting a few of my current students, I’ve decided to have a bit of a reshuffle.

5 minute salads logo

I’ve brought forward the 5minutes Salads masterclass. It will now be available from Sat 28th May. Click here to find out more. The 25% OFF special offer is still valid until Thursday 19th. So get in quick. It’s the LAST TIME you’ll be able to get access to the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School for only $20/month.

And I’m in the process of rethinking the topic for our next in-depth class – details next week. But if there are any burning issues you have that you’d love to see in a cooking class, I’m all ears. Please let me know in the comments!

For those of you who applied for the scholarship. Thankyou for your interest! Don’t worry, I’ll be offering a scholarship to the new in-depth class. Your application will be kept until then.


I’m also offering 4 scholarship places for 12 months tuition at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School.

And this time I’ve enlisted the services of some of my favourite food bloggers including Barbara from Winos and Foodies, Tara from Tea & Cookies, Clotilde from Chocolate & Zucchini and Molly from Orangette to help choose the most worthy scholarship students.

So if you would love to Sharpen Your Cooking Skills, but are a bit short on cash at the moment, now’s your chance.

Just leave a comment below or email me and tell us why you deserve a scholarship position. I’m looking for creativity and enthusiasm!

Scholarship entries close midnight Saturday 14th May 2011. Thursday 2nd June 2011.

the fine print:
The winning entrant will be notified by email and the results published on Stonesoup – unless the winners wish to remain anonymous.
The judge’s decision will be final and no other correspondence shall be entered into.

PS. If you know of someone who might be interested, please share this page with them. I’d really appreciate it.


  • I only just learned about Stone Soup and it has already revolutionized my kitchen.

    There are two factors that have contributed to the food rut I’ve been living in for the past year.

    1) We have the tiniest kitchen and the sink is actually a mini-sink. I can’t wash a full sized pot in it. (That gets done in the bathtub.) There is so little counter space that just a few dirty dishes makes the kitchen feel like a mess. Therefore we started avoiding cooking because cooking leads to frustration.

    2) We new small business owners with three homeschooled kids. We’re in start-up mode and we are constantly tag teaming back and forth from working to taking care of the kids. Sadly, making homecooked meals has been the “thing that has to give” and we just are not happy about it.

    When I learned about stone soup (with your super awesome website “feel”) I had an ah-ha moment. We can’t stop cooking–we need to simplify what we’re cooking. I’ve been telling my friends, “From now on I only cook with five ingredients!”

    And I’m not kidding. It reminded me that I don’t have to pull out all the pots and pans or buy a million ingredients. It’s been such a relief to scale back to quality and simplicity.

    I would love to participate in the class, but we are on a strict start-up budget and don’t have extra money right now. I’d really appreciate a scholarship and my family would also be thankful for it ;-)

  • I am currently job-hunting, and learning to manage our little kitchen on a budget. I love good food, but I need to sharpen my skills (and I probably need to sharpen my knives, too). I think my daughter would benefit from me becoming more adept and adventurous in the kitchen too (and what a wonderful way for a toddler to explore new food!). Plus, I’m a homesick Aussie living in the USA and I would love to hear your accent through my computer speakers every week…

  • thanks mandy!
    I love bone handled cutlery too – had a splurge at the sydney antiques centre recently and invested in the ones in the photo.

    so glad to hear stonesoup is helping you already!

    I know the feeling of being homesick – it’s tough

  • I would love a scholarship to the cookery school, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, I’ve been a fan for ages and I have your free ebook on my computer and refer to it all the time. I live in a bus with my husband, my three girls (all under 9), and soon my little brother (who is 16) will be joining us. It is 350 square feet of lovely mayhem.

    I am an author and we built the bus 1) to be more ‘green’ (and we are now SUPER green) and 2) because we are traveling 8,000 miles touring organic farms across North America for a book to be published next spring that helps new and beginning organic farmers.

    As much as I love food and making everything from scratch, I am not a very good cook. I have all the knowledge but I tend to be a stereotypical absent-minded writer who burns things and mixes the wrong thing in. Your website has made many people around me much happier because the chances of success are much higher. My fridge is 4.5 cubic feet, I don’t have a microwave, and my pantry is one cupboard. I could really use your cooking school. Really.

    You can see more about us on my Youtube channel:


  • jules,

    I enjoy every email in my inbox from stonesoup, along with your recipes. The simplicity & beauty of it all have made me love cooking. I have a family of 4, with two girls, ages 7 yrs. & 13 months. They are my main source of inspiration. I grew up not really enjoying a diverse palatte of food other than what a typical mexican family eats. We all know that although mexican food is oh, so yummy, it’s also very greasy. To this, day, I still try to be healthy & push my picky habit aside to try new things. When I think of my two girls & their eating habits, i’d like to give them the oppurtunity to be open & welcoming to everything that’s infront of them. I love watching Ada (my 7 yr. old) eating calamari with a smile on her face, and Amelie’s expression & “mmm!” approval when she tastes something for the first time. Your website comes into my life for not only it’s various recipes & creativity, but also the minimalistic aspect of it all is great. For a mom like, me, time is precious. So is my hard-earned money. I love cooking but am sometimes hesitant on it when I stop to think of the time it will take to prepare something. I’ve tried a couple of your recipes (spinach cous-cous soup, carrot cake, etc.) & you’ve never failed to make us smile. i’m loving cooking & feeding my children yummy dishes, that require little time but are so great, but my skills as far as cutting and such are not the best. that’s where your awesome scholarship come in. it would be awesome to make wonderful & food nice & quickly, and spend time with the family doing other things.


  • Hey Jules!

    Glad to hear about your newest class!

    As a college student, I was consistently appalled by the lack of creativity and thought that go into what we as a generation eat. Having lived in a dorm with other broke young adults, and seeing them eat microwave/instant/oven junk food every day (even for breakfast) was almost sickening. But, as much as I disliked it, the way the food industry works out is that a packaged burger costs less than a bag of salad. Also, most people don’t have the right knowledge or didn’t receive good enough education about food to know any better.

    I had always been interested in cooking and nutrition (I studied it up to A level) and I tried my best to show my friends what miracles a little mindfulness could do to their diet. Still, I wasn’t exactly an expert, and I didn’t know about minimalist cooking yet, so there wasn’t much I could do back then. So I travelled to Japan for a year to learn about some of the most simple yet healthy food in the world.

    At the same time, I also discovered 5 ingredient cooking from you and was inspired. Here was the answer to all of my problems! I got your ebook, followed the recipes and then started experimenting with all the different kinds of combinations I didn’t think were possible through your book. Everything is cheap, fast and healthy, a pyramid of criteria that I thought was very rare for recipes to fulfil all three of at the same time.

    Instead of just telling people how to cook better like I used to do, I showed them. I held a few small lunch parties, exhibiting the things I’d learned. People started asking for the recipes, and I was glad to give it to them. From that, I was so happy to see small changes in the way the people around me eat.

    So here I am, just a (even more broke) girl, asking you if you would honour me with a scholarship to your school so that I may learn more about simple cooking and spread it to my friends. I hope to make small changes that eventually build up to real change in the way people in my generation (and subsequent generations) think about what makes good, cheap and delicious food.

    Thank you so much for everything so far, keep up the great work!

  • A day late and many dollars short, I just wanted to write and say I think this is a wonderful opportunity you are giving people. Bravo!

  • Well, I may be late to this party, but I think I’ll give it a go anyway, seeing as your post now says ‘TBA’.

    I found Stone Soup through Leo Babauta’s excellent blog, Zen Habits. It caught my eye because, well, in 3rd grade I was ‘Farmer #2’ in my school’s production of Stone Soup (I should upload the video). That, and the idea of simple, healthy recipes with lots of variety and five ingredients? It just rang true for me. I love to cook, but I don’t do it as often as I’d like for the same reasons as everyone else: Lack of time, lack of motivation, lack of planning, lack of direction, etc. Your beautiful, simple website pretty much obliterates all of my excuses.

    So now, the sob story…

    Early last year, I really started making some progress changing my eating habits. I cut out gluten, dairy, and processed sugar. I was eating smaller portions, snacking healthy, and it made a huge difference… I felt better, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. It all clicked. I wasnt dieting, I was changing habits. After years of being overweight and struggling with all the associated baggage, this was different.

    Then, in May of last year, my home was flooded. I live in Nashville, TN. In all honesty, I was really fortunate. Yes, I had to rebuild, and yes, I lost a lot of stuff. But I was ok, and more importantly, my son was ok. I have a good network of friends and family who went above and beyond the call of duty to help us out, and I was able to give back and help others, as well.

    But lemme tell ya, when you’re disposed from your home, and people put in the time, effort and resources to cook for you, you graciously accept and appreciate what you have, even if it means those new habits get unraveled.

    To make matters worse, as I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and the rebuilding process is slowly but steadily approaching completion in September, I was laid off.

    Long story short, I lost my job, I lost my home, and most heartbraking of all, I lost the beautiful new kitchen I was so looking forward to cooking in. Again, I have a lot to be thankful for, and the couple who now reside there are friends. They’re putting ‘my’ kitchen to good use, and it all worked out for the best.

    I refer to it as my Year of Character Building. So, here I am, a year later, plenty of character built up. A single dad getting back on his feet with a new job, a new place to live, and, most days, and pretty good outlook on life. I just haven’t gotten back to cultivating those ‘new’ habits. Scholarship or no, I appreciate what you’re doing here and your updates are a continual reminder to me of the habits I know I can create for myself and my son.

  • sully
    thanks for applying!
    I had my own year of character building in 2004. so I know where you’re coming from

  • Thanks everyone for your entries in the comments and via email.

    You are one of the winners! I’ve emailed you with details… Looking forward to seeing you in class!

Comments are closed.