A sweeping selection of some of the best cookery schools in the UK, from way up north to deep down south…

Do you consider yourself a master of the gastronomic arts, able to conjure a meal at the mere swish of a wooden spoon? Or are you a self-confessed culinary catastrophe, producing nothing but destruction after each culinary undertaking? Whichever end of the spectrum you’d place yourself at, a good cookery school can improve your kitchen capabilities and leave your family and friends in awe the next time you rustle them up a spectacular dinner. No-one even need know where your new-found expertise has come from!

Edinburgh – Edinburgh New Town Cookery School
With a principal who has been a member of the Guild of Food Writers for over 20 years and been selected to judge at The Scottish Restaurant Awards, the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School can make a gold-star student out of anyone. Championing the use of regional produce, Fiona and her fellow teachers at ENTCS will have you cooking up a Scottish speciality in no time. @ENTCS

Yorkshire – Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School
This countryside cookery school is brilliant for stressed-out chefs; with a setting as tranquil as the pretty Yorkshire Wolds, how could tensions possibly boil over? Why not make a holiday of it and take advantage of the guest rooms? No, you probably won’t go home with a tan afterwards, but you will be returning with a much improved culinary repertoire and a satisfied appetite. @WoldsCookery

Cheshire – Cordon Vert Cookery School
Vegetarians and health-conscious cooks rejoice – this meat-free cookery school will show you exactly how to optimise flavour and minimise calories. Both wannabe chefs and professionals come here to hone their kitchen skills. With a mixture of both leisure courses – including hands-on lessons and demonstration-only days – and professional training schemes, anyone can benefit from an eye-opening Cordon Vert experience. @CordonVert

Nottinghamshire – Spinney School of Fine Food
This culinary academy was started by MasterChef finalist Ali Stevenson, who thinks, quite rightly, that cooking should be fun. Indeed it is fun at the Spinney when what you are left with at the end of your task is in fact edible and you haven’t damaged any part of yourself/the kitchen to produce it. The eclectic collection of courses ranges from Thai to Tapas, afternoon tea to bread making. They even run gentlemen-only days – send your boyfriend/husband/brother away for the day and marvel as they return with an actual clue. @Spinney_School

Norfolk – Richard Hughes Cookery School
Run by (you guessed it) Richard Hughes, the school benefits from his 30 years of industry experience and in 2012 became the British Cookery School Awards’ ‘Best Small Cookery School’ and ‘British Cookery School of the Year’. Classes are small so all pupils can receive individual attention under Richard’s watchful eye (there’ll be no note-passing here) and all the food you make is yours to eat or take away with you. Bon appétit! @HughesCooking

Worcestershire – Orchards Cookery
The Orchards is a farmhouse situated (in a farm) eight miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. This cookery school specialises in training people to produce stylish, restaurant-standard meals by way of five-day intensive courses to enable them to become accomplished chalet cooks. If your culinary ambitions are at a lower altitude however, then maybe the ‘designer dinners for beginners’, ‘off to university’, or one or two-day courses are more up your street. @OrchardsCookery

Hertfordshire – Novelli Academy
Well, if there’s one person you’d trust to teach you how to cook, surely it would be the ultimate-five-AA-rosette-and-multi-Michelin-star-awarded Jean-Christophe Novelli? Thought so. The Novelli academy, set in a rustic farmhouse, has a multitude of courses based on different seasons, regions and events. Jean-Christophe himself runs master classes as well as tasting and demonstration days (sit back, watch the master at work and feast on the fruits of his labour), while hands-on academy courses are also on offer. Train in gorgeous country-cottage-style surroundings, with all the mod cons you could expect in a professional kitchen – including an award-winning celebrity chef. @JC_Novelli

Bristol – 102 Cookery School
By the time you leave 102 Cookery School, you’ll certainly know your way around a kitchen. This modern cookery school, with its purpose-built kitchen and knowledgeable teachers, has all the ingredients for an enjoyable and relaxed learning experience. Running alongside the usual classes are events such as Demonstration and Dine evenings which are led by some of the best chefs in the West, including Michelin-starred and AA-rosette-awarded experts. The broad spectrum of courses includes wild-food foraging, knife skills, 30-minute meals and butchery. There are even classes especially for little ones – great for would-be chefs and budding foodies.

Vale of Glamorgan – Angela Gray’s Cookery School at Llanerch Vineyard
Angela Gray’s cookery school is set in a working vineyard (that got your attention, didn’t it) near Cardiff, and puts Angela’s years of experience to fantastic use. As a food writer, cookery show presenter, radio regular and former chef to the dazzling likes of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Angela knows her stuff. Concentrated two-and-a-half-hour taster courses are available alongside full day experiences and longer two-dayers; you can sign up for as much or as little kitchen time as you like. Afterwards, there’s the bistro, hotel accommodation and, of course, the Llanerch wines to take advantage of. @LlanerchVineyard

Devon – Ashburton Cookery School
Ashburton was a  two-time winner at the British Cookery School Awards 2012, and also scooped Food & Travel Magazine’s ‘Cookery School of the Year 2012’. Situated in an old market town just on the edge of Dartmoor – an area credited for its outstanding natural beauty – the school will have you creating dishes worthy of the same recognition. With an impressive bill of 40 different courses, Ashburton has one to target your specific requirements. Courses are designed to be as practical as possible – using ingredients that are easy for anyone to get their hands on, and techniques that will work just as well in the family kitchen as in a professional restaurant. @AshburtonCS

Cornwall – Padstow Seafood School
Breathe in that sea air and gaze out over Padstow’s harbour as you sample one of the fresh seafood delights you’ve just prepared, alongside a glass of Rick Stein’s Spanish rueda. Built for sea-foodies as well as those with no clue about coastal cuisine, this school of fish (ahem) embraces the whole process of fish preparation – from a tour of the harbour and fish market (starting at the eye-watering hour of 5.30am), through to filleting, cooking, presenting and of course, eating. One of these courses will definitely have your learn-something-new-everyday quota taken care of for the next few months. @TheSeafood

The best thing about most of these courses is that you’ll get to eat whatever you make, or take it home. Yum. Hopefully though, you’ll have learnt from past mistakes – ie. triumphantly returning from school with your freshly made apple pie, only for it to be devoured in moments by the rest of the family. This time, keep your treasures to yourself – needless to say it’s going to surpass anything you made in home economics. The cookery schools all do gift vouchers too – send your friend on a cookery course for their birthday and reap the delicious rewards.

For more cookery schools in your area, visit www.lookingtocook.co.uk (@lookingtocook)


Food & Drink Guides

Food & Drink Guides

Food & Drink Guides is the UK's largest publisher of regional restaurants guides. Find over 13,000 reviews on our website foodanddrinkguides.co.uk

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2 Responses to Back to School

  1. You didn’t mention the school of artisan food, at Welbeck in Nottinghamshire. It’s fabulous. You can learn how to make your own cheese, bake artisan bread, or even learn butchery!

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