Whether you want to know if you’re picking the right mushrooms or need to learn some gluten-free recipes, we’ve hand-picked the best cookery schools from across the country…
Ballymaloe began as a restaurant from Myrtle Allen’s own country home more than 30 years ago. Since then, it has become one of the most well respected and popular cookery schools in Ireland, with Darina and Tim Allen in charge of the school. They have a very simple but very essential philosophy of food that remains constant as food trends change and grow. They teach students about the primacy of good quality, naturally produced ingredients. ‘Our students work with the best ingredients and go away with a much greater understanding of the nature of food.’
The famous 12 Week Certificate Course takes place three times a year and attracts students of all ages, from all over the world. Students enjoy the experience of spending 3 months on a 100-acre organic farm in the rolling hills of the East Cork countryside. The short courses are taught all year round, with lessons ranging from a 1/2 day to a week. This year Ballymaloe launched some new courses – nourishing broth, bake your own bread and bring it home as well as classics such as one week at Ballymaloe Cookery School Farm and Gardens.
Ballymaloe Cookery School, Co. Cork Ireland. Classes from €75, €11,795 for the 12-week course.
The Woodspeen Cookery School
Everything about John Campbell’s cookery school and restaurant is delicious. From the views across the Berkshire countryside to the snuggly fur hides draped across the seats, from his emphasis on supporting local produce, to the three-course seasonal dinner party you’ll be able to pull off by the end. The best thing about The Woodspeen Cookery School is that you won’t even realise that you’re learning. Despite coming home with stacks of knowledge, flavour wheels and scientific notes (which he’s more than happy to provide, if you’re so geekily inclined), you’ll come away feeling like you’ve just spent the day hanging out chatting to a friend in their kitchen, with the full stomach to prove it. Because John is so hands-on, and it’s still early days yet, unlike other establishments, you’re highly likely to get the man himself tutoring you, with all his knowledge from many Michelin-starred years at the helm of The Vineyard, which, funnily enough, is within spitting distance from The Woodspeen.
The Woodspeen Restaurant & Cookery School, Lambourn Road, Woodspeen, Newbury. Courses from £75 – full list here.
The Fat Hen
Foraging is a trend that’s here to stay, and it’s little wonder – no one does food better than Mother Nature, and getting your hands dirty is always satisfying. Before you head out alone it’s worth knowing your Conocybe Filaris from your Chanterelle, and what to do with your ingredients once you’ve found it. The Fat Hen have a forage, cook and feast day, which involves a three-hour foraging trip, covering how to be a safe and legal forager (sounds more exciting than we’d thought), followed by a cooking lesson and a feasting session.
The Raymond Blanc Cookery School
Although we can’t promise you’ll be able to produce à la Le Manoir by the end, you will come home with a stash of Raymond Blanc recipes and, hopefully, a little more knowledge than before. If you’re serious about the kitchen, there’s no better place to go for instruction than The Raymond Blanc Cookery School. But, if you’re more cack-hand than dab-hand, just let them know beforehand and they will tailor your course according to your experience level. The courses are varied but our favourites include the Maman Blanc course, (dedicated to Raymond’s mother who makes a wicked apple tarte tatin) the macaroon sessions will make the most elusive patisserie a lot less scary but, purely for adaptability, the seasonal dinner party lessons are ideal for those who want to up their entertaining a notch or two. Even better, you can book into Le Manoir for a well deserved snooze at the end of the day. It would be silly not to really, being in the area and all…
Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford. Courses from £185 per person – full list of upcoming courses here.
No matter how great your love of cooking, it can be extremely difficult to find the time to perfect essential skills and learn new cuisines while also living the busy life of a Londoner. As a city which prides itself on having it all, however, the solution comes in the form of Borough Kitchen – the upmarket cookshop ‘catering to the urban at-home chef’ which holds wonderful evening classes in both its Chiswick and Hampstead stores. After hours, the display kitchen becomes a fully-functioning cookery school where you can learn everything from knife techniques and the fundamentals of cooking to Middle Eastern and Japanese cuisines or gluten-free baking. The teaching method is both scientific and hands-on, making for lessons properly learnt and stored to long-term memory. Courses vary in length, the longest being three hours; but for learning to make four types pasta from scratch and including time for a convivial feast, we’d say that’s an evening rather well spent – and you can still be in bed by 10 pm. Of course, all utensils used are available from the shop and they’ll even email you the recipes and tips, resulting in the most ‘London’ of cookery schools in its quest for ultimate convenience – so now you truly have no more excuses…
Classes from £40 each at Borough Kitchen Chiswick (W4 1PP) or (Hampstead NW3 1RG) – full list of available classes here
This Borough Market bakery has become famous for its doughnuts. And when you try them, you understand why. They are delicious, rich and indulgent without being sickly sweet. Thankfully, if you have become obsessed with these fluffy bites of heaven, you can learn to make them yourself at home. There are two Bread Ahead cookery schools in London, one in the original location of Borough Market, the other on Chelsea’s Pavillion Road. The classes range from the doughnuts to gluten-free baking, bagels and croissant classes, with some full or half day options.
The Avenue Cookery School
Based in Wandsworth, this family-run cookery school specialises in tailor-made classes for all your cookery needs, from learning the basics like knife skills, to macaroon masterclasses and chalet cookery courses. You can try your hand at Sunday Lunch, or learn to bake and cook before you head off to university. There really is a class for everyone here – including a Chalet Cooking course if you’re off on a ski season.
The Avenue Cookery School, 3 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth, London SW18 1FZ. Classes from £60.
Eric Lanlard, or ‘Cake Boy’, has become somewhat of a baking celeb for the A-list, with clientele including Madonna and Sir Elton John. Courses range from a French Country Baking Class that’s perfect for budding patissiers, to an Afternoon Tea Baking Class, so you can really nail that scone recipe. Spring into the warmer weather with their seasonal classes – Spring Baking offers the chance to learn how to make Key Lime Pie among other classic recipes, and Summer Baking helps you to create the perfect puddings to pair with an alfresco lunch. Our favourite is the Chocolat Class, in which students learn how to create three amazing cakes including a dreamy Chocolate & Raspberry Torte, an amazing Arabesque Gateau Opera and a Flourless Gateau Chocolat. Be prepared to create your masterpieces using only the finest ingredients, from 70% dark chocolate to ground almonds and pistachios and even 24-carat gold decorating paper. All masterclasses include a delicious seasonal lunch with fine wine, and students will take home their creations to wow the family and their aprons to continue their baking skills. For a gentler introduction, why not try the cupcake decorating class with champagne brunch?
Rosemary Shrager Cooking School
If Rosemary Shrager can turn a ‘ladette’ into a ‘lady’ on reality TV, she’ll have no trouble teaching anyone how to nail the perfect dinner party, french classics and healthy eating. A selection of exclusive day courses with Rosemary herself are available where you will learn how to prepare the best of British, French and Italian cuisine. Other courses include Absolutely Foolproof British Dishes, Afternoon Tea, Indian Street Food and more.
Rosemary Shrager Cooking School, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Half day courses from £95.
We can’t think of a much better place to learn to cook than on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, in the grounds of a beautiful castle, next to a cosy aga. Their courses cover an impressive array of cookery skills including AGA cookery, baking and barbecuing. Our favourites are the Middle Eastern course, which covers all the ingredient and flavour combinations and lessons in flatbread making and halloumi grilling, and the northern Italian course, which covers pasta, risotto and pesto making. See all the courses here.
Swinton Park, North Yorkshire. Half day from £85, £160 weekends or £140 mid-week.
Cookery School at Little Portland Street
Cookery School at Little Portland Street is London’s most sustainable cookery school and second after River Cottage in the country. They run many wonderful classes and also cater for the corporate world, running bespoke classes and groups. Established in 2004 by Rosalind Rathouse, it is a hidden gem only five minutes from Oxford Circus. The daily classes run every week and cater for all levels from domestic to professional qualifications, with a wide variety of classes including Japenese home cooking, Jewish cooking and death by chocolate.
15b Little Portland Street, London, W1W 8BW. Classes from £125 per person, certified courses available.
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