Whether your cooking is at the level of 'can't boil an egg' or you are already a proficient cook, a course at Cookery School offers something for everyone. Enrolling on a course is a great way to spend a vacation, a weekend break or even just an afternoon.
Across Britain and Ireland there is a wealth of schools ranging form short courses to intensive for the budding professional. Here's my choice from the many on offer.
- Ballymaloe Cookery School, Ireland
Ireland's foremost celebrity chef Darina Allen and her husband Tim run the school with enthusiasm and skill. The residential cottages are on the Allens' organic farm.
ScotlandClaire MacDonald, Isle of Skye
Best-selling cookery writer Claire Macdonald is famed for her practical, realistic recipes. She is also admired for a remarkable willingness to share the secrets of her kitchen, and celebrated for her truly wonderful sense of fun. All of this comes together splendidly in the three-day residential cookery courses Claire hosts within her home at Kinloch on the Isle of Skye.
Cook School by Martin Wishart, Edinburgh
Sleek, modern, facilities and small classes ensure you get the most for your money from chef Martin Wishart. The Michelin-starred chef set up the school with cooking enthusiasts in mind to learn a blend of contemporary and classical techniques using seasonal ingredients. He offers a range of classes including for children.
Angela Gray, formally of Llanerch Vineyard has now gone solo with a new venture, based at three fantastic locations across wales. The classes are held in south wales in the imposing Finmon Castle, in remote West Wales (but easily accessible via M4) at Slebech Park , a shooting estate, and in North Wales as Ffin-y-Parc.
For info on the schools and locations, check out the web site - Angela Gray
EnglandBettys Cookery School,Yorkshire
Whether you’re a complete cooking novice hoping to learn the basics, or an aspiring chef looking for new ideas, there’ll be a demonstration or course at Bettys Cookery School to suit you. The purpose built school is in Harrogate, next door to the Craft Bakery, where all the breads, cakes and chocolates are made for the six famous Bettys Café Tea Rooms.
- The Cooking Rooms, York
The Cooking Rooms offers a range of food and drink experiences for all ages and abilities to the people of Yorkshire and beyond. It runs cookery classes that will appeal to absolute beginners as well as lessons for enthusiastic amateurs looking to develop their skills in the kitchen. The Cooking Rooms’ purpose-built premises combine a teaching kitchen equipped with state of the art appliances and a demonstration kitchen with overhead camera. We work with a panel of experienced, local chefs and instructors who are enthusiastic about food and love nothing more than to share their knowledge and expertise.
- Swinton Park Cookery School, North Yorkshire
One of the most glorious settings to learn to cook is at Swinton Park Castle in North Yorkshire. Swinton is a 30-bedroomed luxury castle hotel with the cookery school housed in the ground floor of the converted Georgian stables, which overlook the castle turret and parkland. Classes are run by the head chef with celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager making an appearance throughout the year. This is a school to not only learn to cook, but to spoil yourself in the lap of luxury.
- Celia Brooks Brown Gastrotours of London
Celia is a renowned food writer here in the UK and she knows the London food scene better than anyone. Throughout the year she runs exclusive tours of some of London's most vibrant foodie destinations. The tours run from approximately 10am to 2pm, and are specially designed each day to be bursting at the seams with exclusive food and wine tastings and encounters with passionate foodies and producers.
Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford
Hailed as one of Britain’s most famous schools, this is one for the serious cook. The school is in the magnificent grounds of celebrity chef Raymond Blanc’s 13th-century manor house hotel and restaurant. I attended the school a few years ago and can vouch for the standard and quality of both the teaching and the facilities. It doesn’t come cheap though.
It’s the only cookery school in the world to offer the chance to learn in the kitchens of a two-Michelin-starred restaurant.
- Bertinet Cookery School, Bath
Owned and run by French chef and baker, Richard Bertinet, The Bertinet Kitchen offers a range of relaxed and fun courses for food lovers of all abilities. There are demonstrations or hands on classes where you can learn to make simple and delicious creations.
Padstow Seafood Cookery School, Cornwall
The famous fish and seafood cookery school founded by celebrity chef Rick Stein in 2000. To avoid disappointment please note, Rick Stein does not teach at the school, though his influence is evident.
The Kitchen, London
This is a new and novel approach to learning to cook. After 20 years as a classical chef, Thierry decided it was time to combine years of running Michelin Star kitchens with his passion for food and creating fantastic everyday meals. The Kitchen is the fun and easy way to bring restaurant quality food straight into your own kitchen, and to experience first hand how to create great tasting food from the finest ingredients. A cross between a cookery school, high-end takeaway, bakery and wine shop.
Gilli Cliff Cookery - Crayke Kitchen, York
Crayke Kitchen is based in the food lover’s paradise of Crayke, just twelve miles north of York. The cookery school takes place in Gilli’s charming cottage boasting an enviable kitchen with magnificent views of the countryside. Crayke Kitchen is a wonderful place to hone your cookery skills –and the good news is that it doesn’t cost a fortune, a one day class costs just £30 and a delicious three course lunch with wine is included.