In our latest profile of cookery school chiefs, Sylvain Gachot, course director at the beautiful Season Cookery School near Winchester in Hampshire, shares his kitchen secrets with us and reveals what a French man really thinks of British cheese.
First food memory?
I have always been into food. My father was a butcher when I was younger then became manager of a vineyard, so my family has always been talking about and really caring about food. We foraged together in the forest as a family and every Sunday we went to a market to buy fresh shellfish.
First cookery skills?
I made a lot of charcuterie (Parma ham, paté, saucisson, chorizo etc) with my dad and many different types of preserves and jam with my mum ever since I was able to reach the hob from a chair.
I love the combination of cheese with fresh bread from the village bakery.
Recipes or improvise?
I like to improvise with what I have in the cupboard and fridge. It’s always more than enough to make something delicious.
Most underrated dish?
Charcuterie. It’s something people only have as a tapas but it can also be used to season and lift simple dishes with its natural flavour.
Indispensable kitchen gadget or utensil?
A spoon to try everything you are making!
Or more seriously a good sharp chef’s knife. You can do so many more things than just chopping, such as mincing garlic with the side of the blade.
Tell us a top cookery tip?
Microwave a lemon or lime for few seconds and it will make it slightly softer so you can extract more juice. And if you don’t use a garlic press you won’t waste half your garlic.
Eat at home or eat out?
I like to eat at home on a daily basis, either on my own or with some friends. But I really enjoy a good evening out on occasion to try something I don’t usually make for myself.
What’s Britain’s best kept food secret?
As I am not British I am probably not the best person to answer, but I will simply say in Hampshire we are very lucky with the large number of farms. Not many people on the continent know England produces so many good cheeses, close to being better than French cheese.
What are the key ingredients for a successful cookery class?
Good quality food and equipment but most importantly a good, fun and friendly bunch of students.
What do students enjoy most about learning to cook?
Discovering new things. It isn’t really difficult to mix a few things together and get something amazing as a result. And I would also say they enjoy all the little tips, which count a lot for them when they go home and realise you do not need to have so much equipment to do most recipes.
Click on the link for more information about cookery classes at Season, the Exclusive Cookery School