In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell you that before I did this course I wasn’t into cooking. I’m into eating, though. My friends and family love food and cook a lot, so I’ve always been lucky enough to be able to take a back seat and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labour.
I attended the last day of the three-day course to get a flavour of the cookery school and to try to understand why people are so passionate about the creation of something that I had, until now, taken for granted.
What it’s like
As I left behind the hustle and bustle of Regent Street and turned into Little Portland Street, any reservations about the day ahead vanished. I was greeted warmly by Rosalind Rathouse, principal of the school and my teacher for the day, and sat down to a homemade breakfast with my three classmates.
The kitchen was decked out with state-of-the-art equipment and, despite the mess we made, it stayed immaculate and well organised thanks to the brilliant team supporting Ros. It meant we could enjoy cooking without worrying about prepping ingredients or washing up.
What I learned
The course covers tricky techniques such as getting to grips with pastry, perfecting soufflés and honing chocolate-making skills. We mastered the basics of pasta and gnocchi in the morning (and tucked into our creations for lunch), before diving headfirst into the intricacies of jams and pickles in the afternoon.
Ros talked us through the ingredients, the processes behind the cooking and demonstrated the techniques required, all the while welcoming as many questions as we had. Then we were set loose to have a go.
We didn’t just follow recipes but learned about the principles of cooking, too. Making mistakes was looked upon as part of the learning process, and a big factor in developing our confidence. We were encouraged to taste as we went along, then adjust dishes as we saw fit.
The whole day was infused with the tutors’ expertise and experience. Ros and her team go beyond just mechanically following recipes and focus instead on teaching how to actually cook. They calmly dispel any initial feelings of trepidation, especially where tricky dishes are concerned.
As a novice cook, I found the day completely inspiring and, armed with my course folder, knowledge and new-found passion for food, I couldn’t wait to cook for my friends and family.
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