Culinary activities are rapidly gaining popularity.From pastry making to wine sampling, industry experts are catering to all manner of tastes. We explore some of the best.
There’s something about cooking that serves as a therapeutic release; perhaps it’s the act of transforming core ingredients into a single dish that is complex in taste, texture and aesthetic. Gathering around a table for a warming, delicious meal has the ability to bring people closer and break down barriers. But, in an era when speed is the main ingredient in life, it can be only too easy to fall into the routine of buying fast food and ready meals. Luckily, a number of innovative enterprises are welcoming budding chefs—whether they are beginners or avid cooks—and teaching them the tricks of the trade. Cookery schools and customised courses have been popping up all over the UK in the last few years and are now the ‘in thing’. Whether you are looking for a creative gift idea or simply want to brush up on your chopping skills, these classes all have something exciting to offer their students.
Robin Harford Foraging Courses, London, Devon, Oxford, York
Enthusiasm for foraging has recently peaked; more and more people are now coming round to the idea of gathering food from natural sources. The concept seems particularly salient in a time where food wastage is on the rise. Robin Harford, foraging expert and creator of wild food site eatweeds.co.uk, is on a mission to teach people how it’s done. Allow him to educate you in identifying at least 20 edible plants and the right way to prepare and cook them. You may even pick up some history and folklore on the way.
Courses from £50pp—visit foragingcourses.com
Camel Valley, Cornwall
Britain’s wine production industry has experienced steady growth in recent years and it isn’t about to let up now. While our neighbouring countries in Europe still dominate in this field, vineyards are beginning to blossom here due to gradually warming climates. Camel Valley, the largest vineyard in Cornwall, has been producing award-winning wines since 1989. The valley’s sun-kissed slopes overlook the Camel River, blessing their grapes with tremendous flavour. A number of tours and wine tasting events cater to visitors, allowing you to sample their Pinot Noir Rosé Brut as you watch the sunset.
Tour and tasting from £15pp—visit camelvalley.com
Catch of the day
Padstow Seafood School, Cornwall
As the brainchild of celebrity chef Rick Stein, the Padstow Seafood School has been drawing in fish fanatics since its conception. As the title implies, seafood is central to this establishment, with pre-lunch courses involving a 5.30am visit to the Newlyn fish market before returning to the harbourside school. You’ll learn how to identify a fresh catch before diving head-first into preparing, filleting and cooking your fish. Each class is loosely based on Stein’s recipe books, meaning flavour is never lacking.
Courses from £95pp—visit rickstein.com
Back to basics
Loaf Cookery School, Birmingham
If you haven’t spent a huge amount of time in the kitchen, the idea of a cooking class may seem daunting. Central to Loaf Cookery School’s ideals is their aim to revive ‘forgotten food skills’ within a relaxed and comfortable setting. Situated in the heart of Birmingham, the Loaf Cookery School’s hands-on approach helps novice cooks find their feet and become more confident with food. Their courses cover a range of cuisines and methods: from butchering techniques and making bread to ethnic cuisines and building earth ovens.
Courses from £60pp—visit loafonline.co.uk
Mastering the Orient
Yuki’s Kitchen, London
If Japanese cuisine gets your taste buds tingling, look no further than Yuki’s Kitchen in Crystal Palace. The detailed evening classes run by Yuki Gomi—world-class chef and food writer—demonstrate the art of Japanese gastronomy. Master the essentials in cooking techniques while using the freshest ingredients. Yuki’s renowned Sushi at Home class reveals the ease with which this traditional dish can be made within a domestic setting. Classes also cover Japanese street food, the art of ramen and countless other umami-filled delights.
Courses from £60pp—visit yukigomi.com