Cookery school review: Ashburton Cookery School

The course: Gentleman’s Relish, two-day weekend course, £330 (includes lunch and dinner with wine; accommodation available separately)

Where: Ashburton Cookery School, Devon

Cookery school review: Ashburton Cookery School

What it’s like
Apparently, there’s more to cooking than grilling a bit of meat or fish, steaming a few veg and microwaving the occasional baked potato. Who knew? Certainly not me, but my ignorance was swiftly addressed by my delicious. colleagues soon after I joined the magazine.They set about getting me to improve my kitchen skills.


That’s why, early one Saturday, I arrived at the sleekly modern Ashburton Cookery School in the pretty Devonshire village of the same name. As the course title, Gentleman’s Relish, would suggest, this was to be a blokeish weekend. My fellow attendees were all male and, like me, if not quite reluctant cooks, definitely reticent cooks. Most were of a certain age and had been given the course as a gift by hopeful wives and partners, willing a miraculous transformation in their fella’s kitchen skills. We bonded quickly and, once we’d been introduced to our tutors, chef director Darrin Hosegrove and chef Tom Ewings, we were ready to get started.

What I learned
The course is designed to encourage the novice and, for each recipe, Darrin and Tom demonstrated exactly what was required. As well as cooking up playful banter, they taught us no-nonsense prep and knife skills, and impressed upon us the value of using good, seasonal ingredients.

The school is proud of its links with local suppliers. Over the weekend, we created a varied menu that utilised those local ingredients – pan-fried mackerel fillets, short-rib beef and ale stew with dumplings, sticky date pudding, venison cheese burger with triple-cooked chips… The theme was well-made, hearty ‘posh pub food’, which we all enjoyed at lunch and dinner each day – feeling proud, if not amazed, that we’d concocted this feast ourselves.

The verdict
There was a palpable sense of transformation by the end of the course. I emerged far more confident as a cook – empowered, even – with a good grounding in cookery skills and an eagerness to put them to use as soon as possible.

The atmosphere was fun and informal, and I’d enjoyed the company of my fellow students. Although I hadn’t come away with a signature dish I could wheel out  for special occasions, I had been given the ability to cook, and I had a new-found desire to seek out recipes – and not be afraid to give them a try. A pretty successful weekend, I’d say.

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