Cookery School Q&A: Mike Harrison, head tutor at the Wellbeing Farm

Mike Harrison is the head chef at The Wellbeing Farm cookery school

Mike Harrison is the head chef at The Wellbeing Farm cookery school

First food memory
I am afraid this has to be first two food memories, both in the same year at the end of the 1960s. I must have been about seven, and was staying with one of my uncles who travelled the world extensively. He took me to Southport – not to go on the fun fair, but for lunch to what back then was very unusual – a Chinese restaurant. The second, at Christmas, our family went to a lodge at the Trough of Bowland where one of the party fell down a slope into the river and came out with a wild salmon which was taken straight back to the lodge and cooked!

First cookery skills
Making bread at my grandmother’s. She used to make it every other day in the kitchen sink bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel and let it prove on a kitchen chair in front of the coal fire.

Favourite ingredients
Anything locally produced and in season – let nature do its job.

Recipes or improvise
When starting out not only do you need good recipes but you need to grasp the basics: how to use a knife, tidy as you go and start with very basic recipes like sauces, pastry, roasting etc. Once you have the basics under your belt and have built up your confidence, then you can start to experiment and use recipes as a base to tweak dishes to your own tastes.

Most underrated dish
The most underrated piece of lamb is the lamb breast, it’s extremely versatile and packed with flavor. As we breed and butcher our own lambs on the farm, it’s a cut we get to use a lot. It’s not everyone’s first choice as it has quite a bit of fat running through it, but if you slow cook or confit it, then the fat renders down and you get amazing flavour and a really tender cut of lamb.

Indispensable kitchen gadget or utensil
Quite simply a good sharp knife is all you need.

Tell us a top cookery tip
It’s all in the prep!

Eat at home or out
We all love to eat out and it’s a great source of inspiration, but there is nothing more satisfying and relaxing than cooking at home for friends and family. It’s just a case of practice and prep.

What’s Britain’s best kept food secret?
Wild garlic, normally found in early spring just before or as the trees get their leaves, is great in salads – use the leaves as you would use garlic.

What are the key ingredients for a successful cookery class
Depends on the content, but I feel it should start with an informative, fun and relaxed demonstration with the opportunity for everyone to ask questions and take notes. Then get down to everyone getting hands on and feeling comfortable to ask one-to-one questions as people can have totally different skill levels. At the end of the class we want people to go away with the confidence to not only spend more time cooking, but to enjoy it.

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Contact: Cookery School Q&A: Mike Harrison, head tutor at the Wellbeing Farm

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