Thursday, 30 September 2010

Cookery courses using fresh herbs

If you want to learn how to grow herbs and cook wonderful dishes with them then look no further than Judith Hann's Herb Cookery School called Hann's Herbs.

From a derelict pig yard on her small Cotswolds farm, the tv personality has created a beautiful walled herb garden, which has become the inspiration for a Cookery School.

Learn how to grow herbs, design a herb garden and prepare original herb recipes at Judith's delightful events. Not only do you get to taste many herbs but Judith serves a lavish herb lunch with wine and fresh herb teas in an elegant, listed stone barn.

Her recipes have been developed over four decades of cooking. She is now President of the Herb Society and was one of Rick Stein’s 'Food Heroes' when he filmed in her herb garden and ate food she cooked for him in her kitchen.

Each one day course, from 10am to late afternoon, costs £125 per person including lunch, wine, herb teas and at the end of the cookery course fresh herbs, seeds and the day's recipes to take home.

Check out Judith's website for dates of the next cookery courses.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Celebrity cooking class at sea

P&O cruise ships are now offering you not only the chance to enjoy a relaxing cruise but also enjoy top notch dining on board their cruise ships.

They have teamed up with renowned figures from the world of gastronomy - Atul Kochhar, Gary Rhodes and the ebullient Marco Pierre White to give you the chance to enjoy their signature dishes at sea.

Very nice........but P&O have taken this one stage further by having a number of dates in 2011 when Atul, Gary and Marco will welcome guests on board, hold talks, give cookery demonstrations and sign books.

So if you want to meet the star of "Hell's Kitchen" join Marco on the Ventura next year on selected cruises in March, April and September. He will be on the Aurora in June and on the Oceana in August and November.

If you are, however, a big Gary or Atul fan, check out their dates at sea on the P&O website

What could be better to look forward to in 2011 than sun, sea and chefs...........well I don't know about you but I'm saving up already!!

Sourdough Masterclass with Dan Lepard at the Cookery School at Little Portland Street

Famous artisan baker, Dan Lepard, is returning to Cookery School for a 'hands on' Sourdough cooking class.

Dan will show you how to create a healthy leaven (or 'starter') as well as giving expert tips on mixing, kneading and shaping the dough.

Pick up a host of tips and tricks on the day which will enable you to get the perfect crust, texture and most important of all.......... the perfect taste!

Because class numbers are limited to 14 Dan is able to work with each of you individually throughout the day.

The next Sourdough Masterclass is on Sunday 27 November from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. priced at £215.

Check out Cookery School website at for full details.

Mushroom cookery courses

Looking out from kitchen window at a dark damp day, you know we are getting into mushroom season.

It could be just the time of year for aspirant cooks to don their water proofs and go foraging for mushrooms to use to cook up a treat.

There are a number of cookery schools that do mushroom foraging and cooking courses who will help you identify which mushrooms are good to cook and which might potentially kill you!

I've found a selection of cookery schools from around the country that do so called foraging courses.

Taste the wild - Yorkshire
Food Safari - Suffolk
Fat Hen - Cornwall
Fungi to be with - London

So what could be better? A bit of fresh air. Some great fresh produce and new cooking skills to cook up the ultimate wild mushroom risotto!

Hartingtons - check out our Facebook page & like us!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

50 Cookery School places to be won

Foodies looking at doing a cookery course for FREE now have the chance to win 50 cookery course places at top cookery schools around the UK.

All they need to do is ask for an entry form from a retailer selling a range of cookery equipment sold by Henckels such as:

Zwilling knives and accessories, Staub cast iron cookware and Demeyere stainless steel cookware brands - each at a special discounted price.

Matthew Dennison, who heads up the Zwilling J A Henckels UK operation, says: "Whilst we only launched our cookery course competition a few days ago at the Autumn Fair, the response has more than exceeded our expectations."

The promotion runs until December 31 this year.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

How to choose a cookery course?

Firstly, choose a cookery course that interests you.

There are literally hundreds of different cookery courses out there catering for those interested in anything from macrobiotic cookery to people who want to be able to prepare their own sushi.

Pick a type of food that you really enjoy. Perhaps one that you love to eat but wouldn't have a clue about cooking. For example, a lot of people love a good curry. But how many of us would have a clue about how to start making one from the raw ingredients? Cookery courses can also be a way of getting guidance from experts in a specific cookery field. For instance, Indian food is more than just about curries. It is heavily regional and by choosing a chef that specialises in a particular region or style of food will increase your knowledge and also improve your cooking skills.

What level should I do my cookery course at?

There are numerous levels of cookery course available to the budding food student. Cookery courses that will take you from literally not being able to cook an egg to those which will train you up to a professional standard. Where do you think the likes of Gary Rhodes and Thomisina Miers learnt to cook? These two well known chefs are probably a good example of how cookery schools are changing the way many professionals learn to cook. Gary was educated the traditional way by going straight from school to catering college & then through varies apprenticeships by cooking in commercial outlets

Thomasina on the other hand was one of those people who took a passion for cooking & then successfully turned this passion into a new lively hood by retraining as a full time chef. Thomasina Miers subsequently went on to win Masterchef in 2005 but only after first taking a cooking course at Ballymaloe Cookery School near Cork. She has now set up a very successful Mexican restaurant Wahaca cooking food based on Mexican street food.

Professional cookery schools

The increasing interest in cooking as as career has spawned a whole range of cookery schools where budding chefs can improve their cooking skills to a professional level. Take for example
Tante Marie which will enable you to a full time cookery course leading to a Cordon Bleu diploma a cooking qualification with international recognition. As well as high end professional cookery courses there are more niche cookery schools such as the Artisan Cookery School located in Nottinghamshire.

I had the pleasure of visiting this establishment recently which is set in the spectacular setting of the Welbeck Estate in the estates former fire station. This cookery school aims to teach it students some of the lost skills of artisan food preparation. The facilities are superb. There are several wood fired brick ovens for artisan bread making. They have a separate facility for artisan cheese making. The cookery school is very well equipped and they have there own demonstration lecture theatre. The advance diploma in artisan food production covers 4 main food areas: bakery, cheese making, brewing and butchery. The full time year long course isn't cheap at £14,000 but students should then be equipped to set up either their own artisan food business or work within a related part of the food industry.

Shorter cooking courses

The cooking courses I referred to above relate to a serious financial and time commitment from a student. However, most people just want to learn a bit, improve their cooking skill and most of all have some fun. In which case there are loads of cookery courses out there for you.

Cookery courses can start from anything from a couple of hour demonstration where the student just basically watches the chef prepare the food. This allows the cookery student to prepare notes and study an expert cooking. Then at the end most cooking demonstration sessions will allow the cookery student to taste the food. Some cookery courses actually allow the student to take the food home as well. Frequently, the cookery school will also supply the cookery student with notes and recipes to take home.

If this all seems a bit passive & you are the kind of person who likes hands on learning. Don't worry, there are plenty of cookery courses where the cookery student gets to practice their cookery skills as well as watching the chef demonstrate new techniques or recipes. These type of cookery courses tend to take place over half or full day sessions with the cookery student getting to eat or take home the finished product.

Longer cookery courses are often available and these should be in depth enough to allow you to build up some serious cookery skills.

Where are cookery courses held?

In the last few years there has been an explosion of purpose built cookery schools. These cookery schools are often set in converted barns or industrial premises. The level of facilities they have can vary considerably so make sure you check them out thoroughly before you sign up for the cookery course. These style of cookery schools are on a much larger and professional scale compared to the traditional home spun cookery school which take place in the cooks farmhouse kitchen. You may like the more professional approach or prefer the intimacy of the homely location to take your cookery class. It's all about personal taste!

What do I need to bring to my cookery course?

Most cookery courses will provide their cookery students with everything they need. This means that the cookery school will provide the student with: aprons, the raw ingredients, knives and other equipment required to prepare the food. This means that the cookery student just needs to bring their enthusiasm to the course and they are then ready to go.

How many people will be on my cookery course?

Numbers vary on cookery courses but really there shouldn't be more than 12 students to each cookery teacher. Less students can be better, depending on the type of food being prepared. However, where you are going on a cookery demonstration numbers of students are likely to be much higher. Expect up to 30+ students depending on the layout of the cookery school. Some well equipped cookery schools like the artisan school of cookery actually have demonstration theatres with there own TV screens and cameras so that students can observe up close what the cookery teacher is doing.

How much will a cookery class cost?

Cookery courses aren't cheap. However, what you get for your money is expert tuition and a life skill and experience. For a full days cookery course you should budget on between £100-200. If you are just looking to do a half day which might be perfectly adequate to cover the cooking of certain dishes or types of food then expect to pay between £75-100.

If you opt instead for a cookery demonstration then you will pay less because you are not paying for the food or other equipment. A full days demonstration may cost as little as £45 and up to £75 depending on the chef who is demonstrating and the cookery school.

There are longer cookery courses which consist of a number of separate cooking classes spread over several days or weeks. These tend to work out cheaper per cooking class but can still represent a considerable outlay. For a weekend course budget on about £250. If a full week or series of cooking classes over several weeks then you might be talking of a thousand plus.

The advantage with the longer classes is that you should start to get into serious cooking and developing a specialist knowledge of the subject you are studying.

If you are lucky your cookery course might not cost you anything at all. Many of the cookery schools will offer vouchers suitable for birthdays or other gifts. You might therefore not have to pay a penny for your cookery course if you have a very generous partner or family.

Food, culture and history are all linked

When you start on a cookery course you will often find that you will end up learning much more than basic cooking skills. Learning about a countries food often reveals much about it's history and it's culture. This means that often a cookery student will end up with much more than just a serious of recipes to take home.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Gluten free cookery courses

Lucy Cooks Cookery School in Kendal in the Lake District has a fresh and vibrant approach to cooking.

All the usual cooking classes are available but what caught my eye and sets them apart from many other cookery schools are the gluten free cookery courses designed for gourmets who as a result of medical diagnosis have had to adapt their cooking.

Lucy Cooks courses show that you can still enjoy tasty food whilst ensuring your diet is gluten free.

The courses are £125 per day and are definitely worth checking out.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Amazing interest in Indian Cooking Class

Madhu Choudhry who runs Ethnic Fusion is planning to open an Indian Cookery School in a Norfolk Barn.

Amazingly after the news spread 50 people signed up for Madhu's cooking classes even though change of use of the barn has not been approved yet!

Watch this they say!!

The chicken has raised it's head again!

Well... The Editor is busy putting together a planning application for our cookery school and I am doing some work on our first event......a Local Food Heroes Christmas Fair in Baslow. The aim is to make it a showcase for local food producers and a really interesting event for "foodies".

Unfortunately this morning The Editor has raised the subject of the promotional chicken again........and despite my valiant efforts to persuade him otherwise he is clearly "eggcited" about the idea and is insisting the chicken makes an appearance.

From a marketing point of view I have to concede that it is a "cracking" idea but there's no way I'm running round Baslow dressed as a pantomime or not !!!!

So........underhand tactics are required. When I see The Editor later today I'm going to suggest we toss a coin to see who plays chicken. Luckily I've got a two headed coin from my Junior Magician's Set my Grandad gave me years ago. It's come in very useful on many occasions and I think it could have a starring role tonight!! I just hope The Editor doesn't suspect "fowl play" from the Gastronome!!

Heads it is then and I'm in a win - win situation. I just need to remain calm at the big moment. Mustn't panic, blurt out "tails" and find myself being measured up for a bloomin' chicken outfit!!

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Bloomin planners could dash our dream cookery school

Well there is a huge sense of irony in it all.

Our dream location for a cookery school could be scuppered because of the planners. I had a chat to a young planner in the Peak Park planning department who was helpful but cautionary.

Apparently, there is planning policy relating to the building that we want to put our cookery school in that seeks to retain it for employment use. This in planning terms means bods, sitting at desks with computer. Not loads of people learning to cook in our fantastic cookery school.

The reality is that the survey that the planners did which showed a shortage of offices in the town was prepared years ago. Since then there has been the biggest world wide recession since the 2nd world war. Planning policy doesn't apparently take that into account.

The irony of our problems with the planners over our cookery school is that I used to be a planner myself. I therefore earned my first pay checks by telling other people NO.

However, neither of us is disheartened by the initial feedback. We are hoping that local enthusiasm for our cookery school will push the bureaucrats back into their boxes and let truth, justice and good cooking prevail!

Food event in Baslow

Despite this small set back, me & the Gastrognome are not resting on our heals. We are already planning a Christmas food event in Baslow. It's going to be great and we are getting really excited about all the potential local food heroes that we can invite. There are so many little food producers in the Peak District that produce great food and have fascinating stories to tell!

Hartingtons 'food experience'

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Cooking class at home

Fancy learning to cook without leaving the comfort of your home?........well Thyme and Plaice Mobile Cookery School could have the solution! Cooking classes at home!!

The Cookery School has been set up by Paul Ellis who has an impressive track record working with the likes of Fay Olinsky and Marco Pierre White.

Surprisingly affordable Paul will bring everything to your house and teach you how to make perfect dishes. You can even get a group of friends together and have a cooking session together.

Paul's contact details are on the Thyme and Plaice website at

Sunday, 19 September 2010

TV star reveals love for cookery courses

TV star Blake Lively has revealed that her favourite hobby is baking.

The star of 'Gossip Girl' has revealed that she loves taking cookery courses.

"I take a cooking class everywhere I travel. I find it's the best way to get to know a culture."

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

"Cocky" turns up but...

Well we had our meet with "Cocky" finally on Sunday. A week late but how weird.

The premises we viewed a couple a weeks ago as perfect for our new cookery school suddenly looked rather small, uninspiring. We were both left quite underwhelmed. If for one felt quite embarrassed by my obvious lack of enthusiasm for the place despite it's fantastic setting and beautiful architecture. "Cocky" has done a great job in refurbishing the listed building but both of us new deep down, the property, despite it's visual qualities wasn't right

So we are focused on premises two for our cookery school.

The location is great right next to a bustling market town and even the gas situation is looking promising.

So it's all looking good & we soon could be cooking on gas. The Gastronome is doing great work on putting together a local food heroes event. One of the things we have yet to decide on is who dresses up as the pantomime chicken (free range off course) to publicise it. I think she would luck really cute as a chick but she insists I have the legs for it!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Ashburton voted best cookery school

Good Food magazine has voted Ashburton the best cookery school for skills.

Located on the edge of Dartmoor Ashburton offers a range of 40 cookery courses ranging from Bread making to catering for dinner parties.

Emphasis is on local, organic produce and teaching takes place in two well equipped kitchens.

To find out more go to the Ashburton Cookery School website.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Coghlans cookery school announces 50% discount

Coghlans cookery school based near Chesterfield has announced a 50% discount on all it's cookery courses (excludes 8 Week General Cookery Course) that are booked before 30th September. This means the cookery courses are just £75 instead of the usual £150 daily rate.

Coghlans over a range of over 30 cookery courses from chocolate making to dinner party cookery.

It is particularly well known for its chocolate cookery courses taken by Janet Coghlans who survived a horrific attack by a Bengal Tiger to go on to develop a passion for chocolate making and then help to protect the very animals that almost led to here death.

She is famous for here Tiger J chocolate brand.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Cooking up a Thai feast in Manchester?

I love Thai food. It's one of my favourites. In recent years there has been an explosion in interest in Thai food and how to cook it.

The great think is you don't have to go to Bangkok to learn how to prepare genuinely authentic Thai food. How about Manchester?

The Sawaddee Authentic Thai Cookery courses can be tailored for your needs but as a sampler:

The Thai cookery courses lasts for about 3 hours and is £95. Here is a selection of the menus that you can cook.

Set A
Starter Savoury Minced Chicken Salad (Larb-Kai)
Soup Tom Yum
Main Course Green Curry with Chicken (Gang Keowan Gai)

Set B
Starter Fried Noodle Thai Style (Phat-Thai)
Soup Seafood Soup (Tom Yum Kung)
Main Course Massamein Curry with Beef or Chicken (Massamein)

Set C
Starter Squid Salad (Yam Parmuuk)
Soup Thai Vegetable Soup (Tom Yum Pak)
Main Course Red Curry with Duck or Pork (Gang Deng Ped | Moo)

Set D
Starter Thai Papaya Salad (Som Tam)
Soup Seafood Soup (Tom Yum Kung)
Main Course Green Curry with Chicken (Gang Keowan Gai)

Set E
Starter Fried Rice Thai Style (Khaow-Phat)
Soup Thai Vegetable Soup (Tom Yum Pak)
Main Course Red Curry with Duck or Pork or beef (Gang Deng Ped | Moo)

If that wets your appetite then for more information on learning to cook Thai food go here

Location location location

Well how exciting is all this??........ VERY exciting I have to say!

I'm off this morning to view the riverside premises which I'm hoping are going to be perfect for our cookery school.

Location! location! location! as they say..........and this location certainly has the Wow factor!
Top floor in a converted mill by the river in a very busy tourist town. I've got a very good feeling as it seems to be ticking all the right boxes and has already got a big thumbs up from my partner in crime.

Talking of my partner in crime.........the diligent Editor has been straining his brain cells and burning the midnight oil working on our branding.

He's very keen on what our branding says about I'm intrigued to see how his Paul Smith meets Upmarket Deli meets Artisan Baker style pans out................and talking of pans.........the list of equipment we need for our cookery courses is growing by the minute ........fridges, freezers, cookers, chopping boards, professional knives and of course pots and pans!
Bloomin eck it's not cheap being a cooking class act is it????

Well must dash now as I'm due to view the premises in less than an hour.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Cocky fails to turn up!

Well can you believe it 'cocky' failed to turn up for our vital meeting about our new cookery school.

But as my business & 'real' partner commented "it could be for the best"

Why? Because the very next day we viewed a fantastic premises that would make an ideal cookery school. Its set in a prime spot with fantastic views over a river.

Not only could the 'non show' be a turn of fate me and the Terrier turned the whole event to our advantage by using our unexpected free Sunday morning to scout for some potential venues for food events.

We managed to find a couple of excellent potential venues that are ideal for food talks and events & were much cheaper than we expected.

So....'cocky' is booked in for next weekend but it's already looking that price and a better alternative is going to win out. It's all very exciting!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Cookery school - critical meeting - with coffee chaser!

Big weekend coming up for our cookery school.

A meeting with our prospective landlord Mr S. We've nick named him 'cocky'. One day I may explain. It's not what you might think!

The critical issue is gas. Can we get it to our cookery school and who pays?

I've also had a rethink about the building/s that we want to occupy. We need expansion space & the original building has none. So can we persuade old 'cocky' to allow us to knock two of his recently built units to be knocked into one. I suspect he may so NO! But we will see.

On Monday I'm meeting a guy about coffee. I love the stuff, especially the smell of freshly ground coffee. Did you know that there are two main types of coffee bean Robusta and the Arabica bean. Arabica is the smoother, subtler generally favoured in coffee shops in the UK. I prefer the stronger, beefy Robusta. The reality is the best coffee is normally a blend.

We are hoping to put on barrista courses in our cookery school as well as providing decent coffee to our students as part of their cookery course.

The guy is an expert coffee roaster so the experience and the coffee aroma should be an assault on my senses. It may take some time for me to come down from the ceiling but what a way to go!


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Sushi cookery courses

I've recently comes across this fantastic looking cookery class for sushi making.

I don't know about you but the art of sushi has alluded me. I'm not great with raw fish. Could it be those eyes staring back at you?

However, over the last few years the taste of delicately sliced raw tuna with a little bit of soya sauce and wasabi paste is possible one of my favourite meats.

The chance of being able to prepare this delicacey by my own fair hands by going to a cookery school seems a great opportunity to expand my cooking skills.

Has anybody been on a sushi cookery class that they rate? I'd be interested to know.