ballymaloe-feature

Autumn is upon us and with the shift in season we’re suddenly hankering after hearty stews and moreish casseroles. We’ve our roll call of go-to recipes down pat at this stage, but are looking to expand our repertoire somewhat. With a course for every price point and type of cook – from the meticulous measurers to the “more-the-merrier” types – our compilation of cookery schools will see your skill set increase exponentially. No doubt your Sunday dinner group will show a similar peak in interest once word gets out you’ve perfected that beef bourguignon.

The Raymond Blanc Cookery School Oxford

Live out your TV-chef-fuelled fantasies and discover a whole stock of dishes in the kitchens of a two-Michelin-star restaurant at Raymond Blanc’s much-lauded cookery school. Located in a beautiful 13th-century house, make a weekend of it and book a night’s stay at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, a village of undulating hills, manicured lawns and thatch-roofed pubs. Serving up some wonderful dishes in an idyllic country setting (with plenty of produce sourced from the pretty gardens), most courses focus on recipes close to Raymond’s heart – the pork chop “Maman Blanc” with sautéed potatoes, for example. At the school’s core, there is an appreciation and love for food and family – we’re bringing our mums.

Courses from £185

Ballymaloe Cork

Run by leading Irish-celebrity chef Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School is situated on an extensive organic farm. Notable chefs who have trained and taught here include Jordan Bourke, Clodagh McKenna, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Sophie Grigson and Rachel Allen – and that’s just for starters. If confidence takes hold, the prestigious Ballymaloe 12-week course covers a variety of cuisines and techniques – by the end you’ll be equipped to start a career as a professional chef. If this is some way above your skill rank, Ballymaloe also puts on cookery demonstrations almost every weekday from 1.45PM to 5.00PM.

Courses from £71

Swinton Cookery School York

With a rolodex of courses to choose from, you can cast a wide net or hone in on one area in particular at Swinton. Far from a one-size-fits-all approach, choose from seasonal and international cuisines or tester your skills at chocolate making from just £35 for a morning course. At its best in the autumn months, when a merlot of cinnamon and rosemary fills the air, classes are held in a relaxed, open-demonstration kitchen housed in a converted Georgian stable. Located opposite the Swinton Estate hotel, book in for a long weekend and compare your concoctions to the chef on alternate days. The stand-out here though is the five-day course which adds fine-dining to the mix, giving us high hopes (and serious notions) for our next dinner party.

Courses from £35

  • 017 6568 0900
  • Go to Website
  • Swinton Park
    Masham, Ripon
    North Yorks
    HG4 4JH

Woodspeen Newbury

Like learning to drive, here you’ll have to do your theory before doing any hands-on work. With a huge range of courses available – from butchery to pasta-making – it’s best to take your time when selecting yours. The vibe here is cooler than you might expect of a Berks cooking school. While the outside blends with its surroundings, inside the aesthetic has a Scandi air to it – think charcoal hues, panelled wood and minimalist furniture. The Cookery School kitchen also serves as the backdrop for Woodspeen’s Kitchen Table – an intimate set up that seats 10 and affords guests the opportunity to cook along with the chef and fellow diners. A great option for a milestone birthday.

Courses from £65

  • 016 3526 5070
  • Go to Website
  • Lambourn Road
    Woodspeen
    Newbury
    RG20 8BN

Eckington Manor Cookery School Worcestershire

With state-of-the-art facilities and it’s cute-as-pie aesthetic, it’s hard to find fault at Eckington. The perfect place to brush up your culinary skills, choose from one-, two- or three-day courses, catering to all levels of ability. Combine it with a weekend stay and really make the most of the region’s natural larder. Surrounded by rolling fields, the manor’s proximity to some of the freshest produce in the British Isles is one of its greatest draws. If you’re more of a traditionalist than a modernist, why not try out a bespoke course which focuses on Aga cooking.

Courses from £40

  • 013 8675 1600
  • Go to Website
  • Hammock Road
    Eckington
    Worcestershire
    W10 3BJ

Leiths School of Food and Wine London

If you’ve ever tasted a Leiths-prepared picnic basket (we can vouch for the ones they serve at Glyndebourne), it will only be a matter of time before you’re signing up for a course at their cookery school. Creating delectable dishes fit for an almost-queen (the Duchess of Cambridge scrubbed up on her cooking skills here) Leiths is a luxe-y Londoner’s delight. Suave yet simple, come for an evening session post-work or commit to a weekend-long itinerary of clambering with pots and pans. We’re guessing there has been a surge in their baking classes since Prue Leith started on The Great British Bake Off – so go rogue and opt for something different.

Courses from £75

Le Cordon Bleu London

It would take a pretty plucky newcomer to sign up for a course at Le Cordon Bleu knowing diddly squat about cooking. If you don’t know your dijon from your dyson then, firstly, you are a moron and secondly, this place isn’t for you. These courses are best suited to those looking to finesse and fine tune their already extensive skill set. From cuisine technique essentials to wine tasting, a class at Le Cordon Bleu is a great present for Gordon Ramsay types (read into that what you will). Improving your culinary skills while brushing up on your French makes multitasking feel like a breeze.

Courses from £175

Bread Ahead London

If you’re a fan of rich, buttery breads and want to learn the basics in baking, Bread Ahead is your motherland. More focused than other baking courses, bread making is the only thing on the menu here. This might sound over-simplified, but once you get into it there’s a lot more to baking bread than you might expect. Try your hand at artisan baking – from pain de campagne to ciabatta, brioche and croissants; it’s probably best that a caveat is put in place whereby you don’t eat all the goods you bake in one sitting. Their gluten-free workshop is a top seller.

Courses from £80

  • 020 7403 5404
  • Go to Website
  • 249 Pavilion Road
    Chelsea
    London
    SW1X 0BP

Food at 52 London

In the mood for Vietnamese? Or maybe Italian? Choose from multiple courses and pepper your taste buds across a range of cuisines from Thai to Moroccan and Southern Indian at Food 52. Each cooking class is centred on a particular cuisine and evening courses run from 6.30PM to 10PM – perfect for an after-work debrief with your best friend. We’ve had their Kitchen Confidence course on our radar ever since we mastered the art of poaching an egg.

Courses from £115

E5 Bakehouse London

Friday night spent learning to make sourdough pizza sounds like a plan made in heaven (actually, London Fields) to us. Evening classes at E5 Bakehouse run twice a month and to seal the deal, beer is included in the price. If you’re an early riser (that wasn’t a baking joke) and a baking enthusiast, try out their bread making courses of a weekend and follow up the next weeknight you have free with “The Bread Companions”. Here, you’ll learn how to make jam, butter and pickles that will do justice to your sourdough.

Courses from £70

The Raymond Blanc Cookery School

Ballymaloe

Swinton Cookery School

Woodspeen

Eckington Manor Cookery School

Leith's School of Food and Wine

Le Cordon Bleu

Bread Ahead

Food at 52

E5 Bakehouse

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