Cooking Courses News

Cookery experts sought for NHS project

Cookery experts are current being sought to share their knowledge, skills and passion as part of programme sponsored by NHS Norfolk which aims to provide cooking courses dedicated to simple, healthy and cost effective food.

It is hoped that trainers for the not-for-profit Joy of Food scheme will inspire others while offering advice and practical support on simple ways to enjoy a more balanced and varied diet.

The cookery courses, which are currently taking place on a regular basis throughout the county, aim to demonstrate how to use a wide range of techniques and ingredients.

Whilst a number of trainers have already volunteered, more trainers are required especially in west Norfolk. Each volunteer is being asked to commit to a minimum of one three-hour session per week. Anyone can apply to become a trainer, from keen amateurs to professional chefs; the only requirement is a love of cookery and a genuine passion for food.

Trainers will be required to teach small classes in community venues, such as village halls, pub kitchens and children’s centres.

A spokesman for the project explained that they are aiming to recruit individuals who possess a good knowledge of food and cookery and who are comfortable standing before a group of people and passing on what the know. The trainers will also be passionate about cookery and be keen to inspire others.

Organisers are planning to launch more specialist cookery courses to supplement the basic workshops. These are expected to include courses devoted to chicken, fish and bread making as well as a workshop dedicated specifically to cooking on a tight budget.

A public health official for NHS Norfolk explained that a well-balanced diet plays a really important role in helping to prevent poor health. It is hoped that the programme inspire a variety of different people who have never taken responsibility for cooking their own meals.

Cooking Courses News

Dinner parties on the wane as The Good Life disappears

One of the main reasons that people from all walks of life entertain the idea of cookery courses is purely and simply because, after one Stella or glass of Chardonnay too many, they have publicly announced at a social gathering – “Come around to ours – we’ll knock up a four-course gourmet meal for ten, no problem.”

In the sober light of day, when one of the two of you remembers the self-laid gauntlet you accepted, you think you’d better start to learn how to cook for such a feast. But a recent survey suggests that, despite your good intentions, you may just be better off booking a table for ten at your local Indian restaurant and picking up the tab yourself.

A recent article on the Great British Chefs blog suggests that the home-hosted dinner party is becoming a thing of the past. Without the benefit of a cookery class or two to deliver the culinary know-how, the time and effort that goes into cooking for so many when you’ve not got the experience soon descends into an ill-tempered chore – and that’s without looking at the supermarket bill for the tab of ingredients, alcohol inclusive or not.

Two thousands UK adults were polled by the bespoke cooking ingredients company VeryLazy about their attitudes towards hosting dinner parties. Surprisingly, only a third said that they enjoyed the experience with 25% categorically stating they avoided them altogether due to the emotional stress that’s attached to the once-popular social activity. If you’ve ever watched The Good Life, your heart would often go out to Margot after Jerry invited “Sir” and a whole host of international clients around for such an event at the drop of a hat. It seems that little has changed as Penelope Keith’s character would go into instant meltdown at just considering the menu, ingredients and, obviously, the state of Tom and Barbara’s back yard.

Whereas money was not often the case for the Leadbetters, the survey by VeryLazy intimates that the tough financial times have put the collybosh on self-hosted dinner parties to some extent. Another reason cited by Rob Cottam, the brand’s head development chef, is that we’re all so hyper-connected these days, finding the hours to set aside to source, prepare and cook the ingredients that go into dinner parties is not so easy as every spare minute is a premium to look at other more pressing aspects of our day-to-day lives.

He summed it up succinctly, saying that dinner parties are indeed a brilliant excuse to devote time to those things most important to us – friends, family and food. If you find yourself in a pickle and have promised to lay on a gastronomic fayre fit for royalty, but are unsure of how to go about it, why not check out our cookery courses to see if they can at least take the headache of sorting the menu out, even suggest the beer and wine to go with.

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Cooking Courses News

Cookery courses now popular way of enteraining clients

Cooking courses are becoming an increasingly popular form of entertaining clients and staff with many businesses looking for an alternative to the more traditional activities such as golf, clay pigeon shooting and rugby.

The Cambridge Cookery School is one of many cookery schools that have seen a growth in demand. Accountants, Solicitors and Industrialists are all reaching for their chopping boards in an effort to improve business relationships.

Many in the industry accept that the growth in demand is due in no small part to the increasing popularity of cookery programmes on television.

Tine Roche, who is the founder of the Cambridge Cookery School, estimates that 60% of her revenue is now corporate. The sessions can be structured with either team building or entertainment in mind and level of competitiveness can be decided by the corporate host.

The cookery courses can be tailored to suit the needs of the corporate host.

The Edinburgh New Town Cookery School offers a team building class where the participants cook a three course dinner or lunch, which they then enjoy with a glass of wine in our the school’s dining room. The event usually takes around 3 ½ hours and can be booked in the evening or during the day.

The cookery school also organises sessions where wine is the central theme. This can take the form of Wine and Food Pairing Dinner or a Wine Tasting, with the expert knowledge of a wine tutor. The events follow a specific theme, for example, based on a grape type, time of year or specific country. Whisky Tasting can also be arranged with specialist tutors.

The Lavender House Cookery School in Norfolk has recently introduced Chocolate Workshops for corporate clients. These sessions include a chocolate demonstration followed by a hands-on workshop. Also included in the package are lunch, recipe sheets and chocolate truffles to take home.

For more information on corporate cooking courses please visit our website.

Cooking Courses News

Cooking courses help stroke victims

Five stroke victims have regained their zest for life following a 10 week series of cooking courses at Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food in Bradford.

Each member of the class, had a their own specific reasons for signing up.

Since suffering a stroke 7 years ago, 42 year old Rachel Charlton had relied solely on her mircowave. “I discovered healthy choices and new tastes on the cookery course and also regained my self-confidence in the kitchen.”

53 year old Maxine Gabbitas had a stroke in 1992 which left her with mobility challenges that lead to her gaining weight. “I need to maintain a tight control on my budget and the cookery courses helped me cook meals that were economical as well as healthy.”

Since her stroke in 2010 Bobby Wood experienced taste changes. She said: “With my taste now returing the cookery course gave me the opportuniy to try new flavours and textures.”

A spokesperson for The Stroke Association, explained: “The cookery courses have given everybody a genuine boost in knowledge and confidence, everybody has taken something positive out of the experience.

“The Ministry of Food taught us a great deal whilst they also learnt about some of the obstacles that victims of strokes need to tackle in the kitchen.”

The Ministry of Food Centre in Bradford is one of just four in the United Kingdom. For further information please visit thier website.

For additional information concerning The Stroke Association, please click here.

Cooking Courses News

Housing association uses cooking courses to build confidence

The Regenda Group has introduced an innovative new programme which uses cooking courses to help develop the life skills and confidence of its residents.

Regenda believes that many of its residents are keen to improve their lives but lack either the confidence or the knowledge to succeed. The cookery course aims to help by challenging the participants to learn basic cookery skills during interactive workshops and also encouraging them to join personal improvement sessions.

The first cookery course was held at Limehurst Village Trust in Oldham. Twelve local residents completed the twelve-week programme which focused on teaching hands-on cookery skills alongside topics such as menu planning and health and safety.

The courses made use of neuro-linguistic coaching and programming techniques to give the participants a number of tools to help them in their everyday lives.

One of the participants explained that the course surpassed their expectations. As well as learning to cook they learnt how to combat their fears in a sustainable way. They went on to explain that the course helped them to bring out their confidence and led them to feel happy with a desire to pass on what they have learnt.

This sentiment was echoed by other participants who found the course so useful that they have formed a group to undertake community wide projects.

With support from Regenda the participants have developed a constitution and are now planning to apply for local funding to support community projects.

The group hopes to help develop the Limehurst Village allotment site. It plans to encourage local residents to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

The Regenda Group describes itself as more than just a Housing Association. By developing innovative community projects and using its expertise in shared-ownership it aims to help make the North-West a nicer place to live.

Cooking Courses

Restaurant joins forces with college to offer Indian cookery courses

Indian restaurant Mai’da has joined forces with Blackburn College to offer cookery courses aimed at tackling the shortage of Indian chefs in the area.

The recent tightening of immigration laws and the subsequent struggle to recruit chefs has forced many Indian restaurants across the country to focus on training UK based chefs in the art of Indian cookery.

The college has worked closely with Mohammad Ali, the owner of Mai da, to develop a year-long full-time NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery.

The course will focus and key techniques such as tandoori cooking, spice blending, roti making and marinating as well as food hygiene. The students will also work in the Mai do kitchen whilst being supervised by the restaurant’s head chef.

The course currently has six students but if it proves successful, both the restaurant and the college would hope to expand the programme.

Mr Ali is the owner of successful restaurants in both Bombay and London and also supplies Indian food to Singapore and Emirates airlines.

He is really pleased to be working with Blackburn College at the forefront of developing Indian cookery courses in the UK.

Mr Ali explained that the current government’s policy of reducing the number of skilled workers entering the UK has been a major cause of shortage of Indian chefs.

He also believes that Asian parents are steering their children away from the food industry and towards professions such as law, accountancy and medicine.

A spokesman for Blackburn College explained that the trainee chefs have so far demonstrated a high level of motivation and a real eagerness to learn. The students who successfully complete the course will be awarded with a diploma that will hopefully give them a real sense of achievement and pride.

Cooking Courses News

Specialist cooking courses: bread making courses

Bread is amongst the oldest of our prepared foods with evidence to suggest that Europeans were baking it around 30,000 years ago.

It is eaten throughout the world and is probably one of the most satisfying foods to prepare and cook – there are few things that beat the smell and taste of freshly baked bread.

With its enduring popularity it is easy to understand why so many people want to make their own. For those looking for improve their bread baking skills there are numerous cooking courses throughout the United Kingdom.

There are a variety of different providers but, in our view, the following are amongst the best.

Nottingham, The Manor School of Fine Cuisine

The Manor School of Fine Cuisine was founded in 1987 and offers visitors a wide range of cookery courses. It is based in the Nottingham School of Cookery and is proud of its friendly, informal and relaxed learning environment.

The cookery school places a strong emphasis on food provenance and makes excellent use of the fantastic produce available locally.

The one-day bread making course aims to demonstrate how simple and rewarding it can be to make your own bread. It will provide students with the skills to enable them to make fantastic breads such as Irish soda bread, organic granary loaves and focaccia.

The day will begin with some fundamental bread techniques before progressing onto bread shaping and more advanced doughs later in the day.

Bath, The Bertinet Kitchen Cookery School

The award-winning cookery school was opened in 2005 by French baker and chef, Richard Bertinet. It offers specialist bread-making and baking courses for professionals and amateurs alike as well as a wide range of cooking courses for food enthusiasts of all abilities.

If you’re really serious about bread then the five day bread-making course may be for you. The week long course will be taught by Richard Bertinet and will begin with an introduction to bread making on day one. This will be followed by Italian breads, French breads, sweet & dark and slowdoughs, and sourdoughs on day’s two to five.

The course will include lunch on each day, all ingredients and materials and a copy of Richard’s acclaimed book – ‘Crust’.

Cooking Courses News

Hostel residents receive cookery courses

Residents at the Salvation Army hostel in Newcastle have been receiving cookery courses as part of a community initiative backed by Jamie Oliver.

The ten week course has been provided by staff from East End Health and has focus edon teaching the residents the fundamentals of how to cook meals for themselves.

The staff from East End Health have all been on the training courses at the Ministry of Food to enable them to teach simple cookery skills to people who are looking to create meals on a tight budget.

One of the community food trainers explained that the team visit places such as schools, hostels and community centers to teach pensioners, single mums, youngsters and anybody else who is interested, the fundamental skills required to prepare meals for themselves.

East End Health are the only organisation that deliver the Ministry of Food cooking courses in the area and they’re the only orgaisation in the country that provides the training using an outreach model.

One resident, who has been living at the Salvation Army hostel since the spring, was quick to acknowledge the success of the initiative. He explained that as well as enjoying the cookery course, he has learned a great deal and will hopefully have the opportunity to put his knowledge into practice before too long. Another long term resident admitted to finding the course ‘quite relaxing’.

Residents who successfully complete the course will be presented with a certificate which should improve their chances of securing future employment.

A spokesman for the Salvation Army was also pleased with the impact that the cooking courses had made. He explained that they have been really popular with the residents who are learning life skills that they will find really useful when they leave the hostel.

Cooking Courses News

Yorkshire schoolchildren offered free cooking courses

Bettys Cookery School is offering free bread making courses to Yorkshire schoolchildren in celebration of its ten year anniversary.

The cookery school was founded in 2001 by Lesley Wild; the chairman of the Yorkshire based family business Bettys & Taylors. Lesley’s was to share the company’s passion for great food with its customers and members of the local community, especially schoolchildren.

The free bread making courses are being financed using an allocation from the profits of Bettys & Taylors. It is all part of the school’s commitment to the importance of healthy food, community based education and promoting the life skill of cookery.

During the last decade the cookery school has also taught almost one hundred and fifty ‘Young Chef’ courses designed to give young people aged between eight and sixteen, a basic introduction to cookery.

The manager of the cookery school, Richard Jones, explained that the community schools schemes were established ten years ago as a means of working in partnership with schools to inspire children to get enthusiastic about food. He explained that bread has always featured in these schemes and is an excellent way of capturing the children’s imagination.

During the cooking courses the children are taught the ancient technique of kneading. They are shown how to shape the bread into ‘scrolls’ or ‘plaits’ and also how to decorate the bread with poppy or sunflower seeds.

Whilst the rolls are ‘proving’ in the oven the children are taken on a tour of the cookery school. This is followed by a tasting workshop where shop bought bread is compared, usually unfavourably to their hand made rolls.

Mr Jones believes that the cookery school has a social responsibility to be involved in the local community as well as helping to identify the bakers of tomorrow.

Cookery School Cooking Courses News

Celebrity Chef Earns Victory In His Ethical Fishing Crusade

In the most significant reform of the fishing industry for almost forty years, fisherman will be prohibited from throwing dead fish back into the sea.

Maria Damanaki, the EU Fisheries Commissioner, announced in July last year that the controversial practice which results in millions of tonnes of perfectly edible fish being wasted each year due to quota rules – will be phased out.

The announcement has been seen as a victory for celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who’s much talked about ‘Fish Fight’ crusade, which called for more ethical fishing, attracted more than 700,000 supporters and forced the matter in to the public eye.

Fearnley-Whittingstall explained that the current method is bankrupt, a fact that is demonstrated by the mandatory discarding of four million tonnes of fish each year. His campaign attracted many celebrity supporters including Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais and Richard Branson.

The EU Commission has assured fisherman that the new rules will mean that they can once again enjoy a ‘decent living’, explaining that the planned reform of the quota policy would return fish stocks to sustainable levels within four years.

Damanaki claimed that we need to act now to ensure that all of our fish stocks return to a sustainable level for both existing and future generations. Fisherman should continue to fish and be rewarded with decent earnings, but only under this important precondition.

Under the current system fisherman can throw back as much as eighty per cent of their entire catch either because of the quota rules or because the fish isn’t the right size. If the new system is adopted then fisherman will be required to land their catch in full.

Member of the European Parliament will have twelve months to consider the proposals before they are adopted as law in the new year.

Fearnley-Whittingstall is probably best known for the River Cottage television series which focused on his attempts to become a self sufficient smallholder in rural Dorset.

He is divides his time between a number of different projects including television, journalism and real food campaigning. He also owns the River Cottage Cookery School at Park Farm which provides cookery courses with an emphasis on simple dishes and seasonal ingredients.