Sharpening Your Skills..
Written by Gabriella
Whether you want to learn the kitchen basics or simply sharpen your existing culinary skills, The West Country is brimming with cookery schools that are on hand to deliver expert advice. From rustic foraging retreats to cutting-edge kitchens, here are six of our favourite South West cookery schools for you to discover:
Fat Hen Wild Cookery School, Cornwall
Where: Gwenmenhir, Boscawen-noon Farm, St Buryan, Penzance TR19 6EH
What: Fat Hen was established by Caroline Davey in 2007 as a means of uniting her two great loves: nature & food. This rustic cookery school offers variety of courses with a focus on wild food, sustainability and foraging. Courses aren’t cheap, but many are worth it for the sensational Cornish location alone.
The Courses: For proper foodies, Fat Hen’s Gourmet Wild Food Weekends are not to be missed. The course lets you get thoroughly hands on foraging in West Cornwall’s wild landscapes and you’ll learn to cook with passionate and professional chefs. At the end of the weekend retreat you can sit back and saviour the delights of the freshest, wildest produce in the comfort of the Fat Hen barn.
Other courses include: Game Cookery, Artisan Bread Making, Wild Italian Cookery, Wild Food & Cycling Days and Seaweed Foraging & Cookery.
Accommodation: Fat Hen can provide onsite accommodation in their holiday cottage ‘The Old Wash House’. This is available for a minimum week long break during the Summer, with shorter breaks (min. 2 nights) available off season.
Prices: The Gourmet Wild Food Weekend is £125 per person.
Find out more: www.fathen.org
Where: Court Farm, Philleigh, Truro TR2 5NB
What: This inspirational cookery school is run by brothers-in-law James Martin and George Pascoe. Their style of cooking is best described as ‘Next Generation Farmhouse Cookery’ and when you take part in a Philleigh Way course you’ll learn to prepare dishes that have been inspired by recipes handed down over the generations.
The Courses: If you’re a cooking novice Philleigh Way’s Beginners Cookery Course is a great place to start. It covers all the basic core skills that will give you a solid foundation in the kitchen and you’ll learn a wide range of fundamentals from bread baking to fish filleting and sauce making. The course includes five demonstrations and four practical sessions. All equipment, aprons, food and drink are provided (including a glass of Prosecco mid-morning and wine with lunch).
Other courses include: Better Barbecuing, Advanced Fish, Game, Thai Cookery, Japanese Cookery and ‘Dinner Parties’.
Accommodation: Philleigh Way Cookery School does not provide accommodation onsite but is only a 25 minute drive from Cornwall’s capital city Truro.
Price: Courses are refreshingly affordable, starting from just £50 for sausage making classes.
Find out more: www.philleighway.co.uk/category/our-courses/
River Cottage Cookery School
Where: Park Farm, Trinity Hill Rd, Axminster EX13 8TB
What: Whether you are an amateur cook, food enthusiast or a full-blown smallholder, River Cottage offer a huge range of courses that are guaranteed to inspire you. Unlike many cookery schools, most of River Cottage’s course last from one to four days and are hosted by experts and even well-known authors. There’s a real emphasis on local, seasonal produce with a nose-to-tail approach throughout.
The Courses: The River Cottage Experience is designed to give a taste of all areas of life at River Cottage HQ. It’s an intensive one-day classic cookery course that teaches the importance of seasonality and ethical produce. River Cottage’s team of experts will teach you new skills for kitchen and beyond, including foraging for vegetables, baking the perfect loaf of bread and making your own bacon. The day is finished off nicely with a three-course feast served up in TV’s most famous farmhouse.
Other courses include: Gluten Free Cookery, Proper Pastry and Pies, A Day with Gill Meller, Mushroom Foraging, Wood Fire Cookery and Cheese Making.
Accommodation: While River Cottage does not provide onsite accommodation, they do offer a handy list of nearby hotels and Bed & Breakfasts on their website. More information here
Price: Courses at River Cottage Cookery School start from just £60.
Find out more: www.rivercottage.net/cookery-courses
White Pepper Cookery School, Dorset
Where: Bere Farm, Wareham Road, Lytchett Matravers, Poole, Dorset
What: Launched from humble beginnings in 2010, White Pepper Chef Academy and Cookery School was originally two disused horticultural buildings, one of which was an old bakery. Now, the venue has been totally revamped with cutting-edge kitchen facilities and offers a huge variety of courses and lessons for those looking to sharpen their culinary skills.
The Courses: White Pepper Cookery School has a range of classes for every skill level. Their ‘Chef Skills’ 1 Day course involves working alongside Michelin Starred Chef Mark and is perfect for cooks who already have a good skill-base. You’ll be taught the best way to handle your kitchen tools, as well as learning about the provenance of the ingredients, storage/hanging times and preparation such as filleting and butchery.
Other courses include: Beginner Cook, Day Boat Fish, Vegan & Raw, Authentic Indian and French Patisserie.
Accommodation: White Pepper Cookery offers a list of recommended nearby Dorset accommodation on their website.
Price: Courses start from as little as £79 for basic knife skills through to £775 for the 5 Day Intermediate Cookery Class.
Find out more: www.white-pepper.co.uk/courses/
Demuths Cookery School, Bath
Where: Demuths Cookery School, 6 Terrace Walk, Bath
What: Demuths Cookery School are specialists in plant-based cooking. All of their award-winning cookery courses are vegetarian and many are vegan (some are even raw and gluten-free). Led by Rachel Demuth, each course is taught by experienced chefs and the school is ideally location in central Bath.
The Courses: The most popular course at Demuths is arguably their Fast and Delicious day course. This class will teach you how to make dishes which take around thirty minutes to prepare and cook. You’ll get the chance to make five dishes of your own, giving you new ideas and recipes for cooking at home, together with tips for presentation, preparation and storage.
Other courses include: Vegan Cheese Workshops, Asian Street Food, One Pot Wonders and Food Photography for Instagram.
Accommodation: The historic city of Bath is filled with an array of wonderful hotels and affordable Air B&B’s.
Price: Courses start from just £75.
Find out more: www.demuths.co.uk
PapaDeli Cookery School, Bristol
Where: Papadeli, 84 Alma Rd, Clifton, Bristol
What: This Bristol-based cookery school has a reputation for fun and informative classes. Based on Alma Road, in Bristol’s trendy Clifton, classes are taught by professional chefs and focus on creating your very own starters, mains and puddings. Once demonstrated, you get to put your learning to use and recreate what you’ve learnt at home.
The Courses: Papadeli run a number of varied and specialised courses, including lessons in cuisines from all over the world. This Spring/Summer courses have included Tuscan Cookery, Spanish Tapas, British Seafood and Middle Eastern Cookery. Check out their website for their current lesson schedule.
Accommodation: Visitors from outside of Bristol should have no difficulty finding accommodation in nearby Clifton – known for it’s trendy cafes and independent shopping.
Price: Each course is priced at £95 and runs from 6-9pm on Thursdays.
Find out more: www.papadeli.co.uk/Bristol
We realise that our cookery school list isn’t comprehensive. If you think there’s anywhere else worth shouting about, please let us know in the comments below.