Knife-skills? No-thrills. Bread-making? Half-baked. Pasta? Passé. If your feeling jaded in the kitchen and in need of a new challenge, we’ve found ten refreshingly different cookery classes to blow away those culinary cobwebs.
- Brazilian Cooking Atelier des Chefs, London
Participants can dine like Olympians by the end of this 90-minute class, which features four key Brazilian recipes: Pao de Queijo (cheese-bread rolls), Moqueca de Peixe (traditional fish stew), Rice and beans and Bolo de Castanhas (nut cake). As ever, Atelier des Chefs provides great value for money. £58 buys an immersive and dynamic experience, in this case bolstered by colourful carnival cuisine.
2. Best of Jewish Cooking Cookery School at Little Portland Street, London
The focus of this hands-on class is Eastern European Ashkenazi cuisine, which features Beef Tsimmes (a rich stew), Latkes (potato cakes), Kneidlach (matzo meal balls) and Cheese Blintzes (thin, cheese-filled, pancakes). There is a sprinkle of Sephardic food – the lighter, herbaceous Israeli recipes championed by Yotam Ottolenghi – and the final feast is matched with organic wines.
Although not Kosher, the Ashkenazi recipes have been handed down by the class tutor’s mother and further influenced by her mother-in-law’s family, who hailed from Palestine. £115 pays for a 3-hour class that offers both Jews and Gentiles a diverse introduction to this culinary culture.
Seaweed and Coastal Day
Wild Food School, Lostwithiel, Cornwall
Course leader Michael Harrison has 35 years of foraging experience and here demonstrates there is more to seaweed than the aquatic kale du jour, Japanese nori. His “wild” approach is to transform nature’s bounty into ethnic-style cuisine. This £75 day-trip to the coast accommodates a maximum five participants, who gather edible seaweeds and coastal flora to add a twist to any ingredients list.
- Thai Sculpted Dumplings
If you’ve ever marvelled at the sculpted carrot that garnishes many a Thai platter, this class could be for you. Chef tutor Poranee will guide you through a trio of pillowy treats. Chor Muang (Thai Royal Flower Dumplings), Khanom JeebThai (Steamed Snowbird Shaped Dumplings) and Twist-Plaited Vegetarian Dumplings were historically part of Royal Thai cuisine so are dressed to impress. The 3.5-hour hands-on class suits beginner and intermediate cooks and includes refreshments, recipes and a list of specialist ingredients used on the day.
The Fermentarium, London
“We must reclaim our food” goes the ethos at The Fermentarium, and the Blackhorse Workshop team enable participants to do exactly that with an immersive introduction to lactic fermentation. This technique has been around for centuries, but in three hours students are taught how to make vegetable and fruit ferments such as sauerkraut, kimchi and preserved lemons. The afternoon course is an affordable £45 which provides three items for home fermentation, recipes and “the knowledge and confidence to experiment further.”
- Living Nutrition
Trill Farm, Axminster, Devon
Award-winning chef and nutritionist Daphne Lambert presents a quartet of seasonal courses with each weekend workshop focusing on a different pillar of health: digestion, circulation, immunity and the importance of water. Participants can opt for one or more weekends, with a single experience priced at £225, or £335 if upgraded to residential. Foraging is a key aspect of every course and the autumn weekend celebrates the hardy harvest of seeds, fungi, nuts and berries, with additional focus on preserving techniques. All food is prepared and cooked by the group who take home recipes along with “a deeper understanding of how the foods we choose to eat make a difference to the health of the environment and the individual.”
Scotch Egg Masterclass
Little Kitchen Cookery School, Bristol
A workshop dedicated to the nation’s favourite pub snack? You must be ‘yolking’! Not according to class tutor Rob Warren, who shows participants how this bread-crumbed bite can be elevated to gourmet grub status via some skilful seasoning and the perfecting of that illusive runny yolk. The kitchen run a BYOB policy for anyone seeking the bar-snack experience. This two-hour course includes tuition, ingredients, packaging and recipe cards, and costs a modest £35 per person.
8. Low Carb Living
WI Cookery School, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Banish any thoughts of an Atkins-derived carnivore party. Women’s Institute chef-tutor Ashley Keen is on-hand to prove that you don’t have to replace sugar and starch with halitosis and the meat-sweats. Recipes during the three-day residential course at Denman College – a grand country house in Oxfordshire – focus on healthy proteins, fats and vegetables, woven into dishes promised to be “exciting and tasty”. Standard price is £380 with WI members receiving a £40 discount.
9. Japanese Shojin Ryori
Demuths Cookery School, Bath
This is the traditional vegan food prepared by Buddhist monks at Zen temples, which conforms to veganism, seasonality and zero-wastage. Shojin Ryori is Japanese for Buddhist vegetarian cookery and a typical meal, called Ichi Ju San Sai, is comprised of one soup and three dishes. Recipes during the 6.5-hour day at Demuths could include Ganmodoki (a tofu ball made with carrot, edamame beans and arame cooked in stew served with seasonal vegetables) or Goma-Dofu (sesame paste and kelp sock set with kuzu starch served with wasabi shoyu). Traditionally, strict rules dictate that monks should not make any sounds while eating or leave any food behind. While participants may not struggle with the latter they needn’t worry about adhering to the former, as these principles are not imposed on the day. Class tutor Sachiko Saeki – a professional chef who learned to cook at her parents sushi restaurant in Japan – is dedicated to this cuisine but relaxes the rules and guides students through all hands-on prep. For £175, students receive small meals throughout the day, a late lunch with organic wine, local apple juice or sake, and a recipe pack with guide on how to source all the ingredients.
- B Whole
The Cookery School at Daylesford, near Kingham, Gloucestershire
Whoever coined the phrase, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” clearly never joined Steve Brown and team for a day of calming cookery in the Cotswolds. While a hands-on kitchen session takes up most of the 6.5-hour day, it comes wrapped in a yoga session and massage, both in residence at the Hay Barn Spa. Participants prepare a diverse lunch which is designed to be wholesome and holistic, based around fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from the surrounding 2,350 acres of working farmland. Even prices are relaxed, with a 90-minute yoga session, cookery class, lunch, refreshments and 45-minute massage, costing a reasonable £185.
By Tristan Plowman