A Dinner with a Difference: The Raw Pantry Live Cookalong, Bicester

March 22, 2021

As lockdown wears thin, I think we’ll all agree that it’s nice to have something fun, exciting and a little different to look forward to at the weekend – even if it doesn’t involve leaving the house…

At the beginning of the pandemic, Sebastian Price from The Raw Pantry saw this craving for a weekend experience and interaction with friends and family and thus, the concept of a live cookalong over Zoom was born!

A couple of weeks ago, my friend and I took part in a live cookalong with The Raw Pantry to sample this exciting new foodie concept. Here’s what I thought!

About The Raw Pantry

We deliver. You set up & log in. We all cook along.

The Raw Pantry is an independent business run by chef, Sebastian who has over 15 year’s experience in the kitchen. Prior to the pandemic, The Raw Pantry was a supper club however, Sebastian has now adapted his concept and combined his passion for food and bringing loved ones together during this difficult time by doing fun live cookalongs over Zoom.

The 3 course menu (£50pp) changes monthly and has a meat/fish or veggie option. Sebastian delivers all the ingredients to your home on the day of your cookalong and then from 8pm, you become second in command in the kitchen as he talks you through the cooking and plating process of your 3 courses.

Sebastian prides himself on using the finest local ingredients possible and curates his monthly menus with this in mind. Each menu comes with 3 courses plus homemade truffles and coffee and if you’re a wine fan, you can also team your meal with a hand selected wine from local supplier, Woodthorpe Wines.

You can book a cookalong on a Friday or Saturday night, which includes free delivery in Bicester and the surrounding areas (up to 5 miles) or, they can deliver further afield at an added cost. The goal of the cookalong is to have fun with loved ones, eat great food and learn a little in the process – who’s ready to cookalong?

The Raw Pantry Experience 

On the day of our cookalong, Sebastian’s wife dropped round the box of ingredients as well as, a bottle of delicious French red from Woodthorpe Wines. On the top of the box was a personalised envelope that included our menu for the evening (I went for the veggie option – see below), details of how the cookalong would work as well as what utensils we’d need.

The cookalong began at 8pm, so Sebastian asked for us to login from 7.45pm, with a mandatory glass of wine in hand. The setup was a lot more comprehensive than I’d expected. Sebastian had multiple different cameras covering his chopping board, pan and plating, enabling us to see what he was doing in each step of the cooking process, which worked really well.

After introductions and a quick chat, we delved into cooking our first course – butternut squash on a bed of butternut squash puree, topped with samphire, creamy goat’s cheese, crispy onions, feta and micro herbs. Sebastian preps a lot of the dishes prior e.g. makes the purees, to save time so it’s more a case of heating up the ingredients and finishing them off than cooking them from scratch.

We started by basting the butternut squash in a delicious concoction of butter, garlic and rosemary and then popped it in the oven to finish it off. We then heated through the puree and samphire and started plating. Sebastian showed us how he plates the dish and then gave us the option to try and replicate his or to get creative and add a bit of our own flare. Ta daaa…

Once we’d finished cooking, Sebastian turned off his camera, so that we could then sit down and enjoy our food. I love butternut squash and goat’s cheese, so we were onto a winner from the get go – the butternut squash still had some bite to it and the feta and crispy onions cut through the sweetness and butteriness of the squash really well. It was very relaxed and Sebastian returned after around 15 minutes to get started on our main course.

Next up, we had whisky glazed aubergine with smoked aioli, a vat of spinach and jalapeno mac n’ cheese, roasted carrots with honey, parsley puree and parmesan crisps and broccoli with pickled chilli and almonds. I loved how many different components there were to each item – the sides felt like dishes in themselves – and the portions were BIG. Check out the size of the mac n’ cheese…

Similarly to the squash, we started by melting butter and basting the aubergine in a pan. Once it was sufficiently basted, we then smothered it in the sticky whisky glaze, which was SO GOOD – it reminded me of the glaze you get on American style sticky ribs. The mac n’ cheese, carrots and broccoli just needed to be heated through, so we popped them in the oven for around 15 minutes.

We did our best attempt at plating the dish prettily and were impressed to see how well the aubergine disguised itself as a fillet steak! The mac n’ cheese was gooey and mooreish, the parsley puree was smooth and vibrant with flavour and the wine paired brilliantly with the richness of the dish.

By this point we were STUFFED, but dessert was sticky toffee pudding, and there’s always room for sticky toffee pudding…

Luckily pud was nice and easy to finish off. We put the cake in the oven, heated up the butterscotch sauce and voila, it was ready to devour.

Sticky toffee is perfect as it is – no frills – and this one was no exception. It was rich, light and fluffy and came together perfectly with the sweet butterscotch sauce.

We ended the Zoom call at around 10pm and then kicked back on the sofa with a glass of wine in one hand and Sebastian’s amazing homemade truffles in the other.

The Verdict

The Raw Pantry is an excellent experience for foodies who want to cook up a storm from their home with a group of friends or family. I didn’t personally learn anything new about cooking, so I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who’s goal is to learn a lot of new skills in the kitchen but the cookalong is sold as an experience to bring friends and family together over a few wines and some fab food rather than a cooking class, so I don’t think that’s an issue!

The dishes are varied, hearty and delicious and involve just enough cooking to feel like you’ve made an effort – but not too much to pull you away from your wine and conversation for too long. Sebastian’s setup with multiple camera angles is great and well thought out and I get the impression that he is happy to be as involved or not involved in the night as the guests would like.

At £50 per person the cookalong is quite a splurge however, it’s important to remember the amount of time and prep that goes into the evening both before and during the cookalong – you’re not just paying for the food but also Sebastian’s time throughout the night. My only consideration on price would be that the veggie option could be a little cheaper than the meat option (as it tends to be in restaurants) however, this wouldn’t deter me from booking a cookalong or supper club with The Raw Pantry again in the future. We thoroughly enjoyed this foodie experience and I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s to come next for The Raw Pantry as we begin to come out of lockdown!

If you’re interested in doing a live cookalong with The Raw Pantry, click here to see the most up to date menu and to book. 

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